TRAIL NEWS:
  • Standing water on all trails. The view of buttercups from the North Bridge is beautiful.

What’s Happening: Pike and Suckers

Dr. Karen Murchie of The Shedd Aquarium, stands in Big Creek, a site for her Sucker Research.

April Showers bring May flowers, and at Crossroads at Big Creek, April showers bring fish! and the final session of the 2024 FISH TALES LECTURE SERIES…Presenting the Science of Great Lakes Fisheries.

We’ve already seen a few pike in Big Creek, but the Sucker Run! Long before there was a Crossroads, the Big Creek Sucker Run was a thing. Generations have stood on the shore…or right in the creek…. to marvel as these fish make their annual pilgrimage up Big Creek to spawn.

Swimming Up to Spawn

The suckers are here. Staging…waiting for the right conditions to move upstream.  We know this because of Dr. Karen Murchie, Research Director at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Dr. Murchie works with community scientists to aid in data collection for a multiyear research effort at 17 sites in three states (including one at Crossroads) to study sucker movement.  According to Murchie, “Suckers have an important ecological role to play because they’re making these early-spring mass migrations into the tributaries and contributing nutrients that kick-start the food web.”

Dr. Murchie will present the lecture; “Suckers on the move – what we’ve learned from tagging and tracking” describing the latest results on the movement of white suckers from their spawning stream in Door County into Green Bay using acoustic telemetry tags. She will have a lot of new information to share.

Not surprisingly at our 2:00pm Science Saturday program, learners of all ages will explore  “Pike and Suckers” beginning with indoor lessons followed, weather permitting, with a hike to the sucker monitoring station at Big Creek. All are welcome at this free educational program.

Fish Spotting

Because we never know quite when (or even if)  a run will start, scheduling is impossible. Instead, we will be offering after school naturalist-led “pop-up” hikes to the creek. Follow Crossroads on Facebook or check the Crossroads web-site for “day-of  announcements” of these Sucker Viewing hikes.

Crossroads visitors are excited when our otherwise placid Big Creek is transformed by melting snow and spring rains into a rushing, babbling brook and hundreds, probably thousands, of suckers swim upstream to spawn.

Suckers seem to travel in loose groups, so one minute it can be quiet; then suddenly, the water is churning with fish.  The name sucker is given to this type of fish because its downward facing mouth, in form and function, resembles the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner.

Suckers are bottom feeders, omnivorous bottom feeders. They suck up anything they can find—-small insects, crayfish, algae, and plant matter. They eat anything and just about everything eats them when they are small. Prey fish species …walleye, trout northern pike…. eat young suckers, and so do turtles, birds and mammals. Young suckers are an important link in the food chain.

Birds, Bees, Frogs and More

But April is not ALL about fish.  We also care ( a lot)  about  frog choruses, dancing woodcocks, and pollinating insects and flowers.

Door County Library, in collaboration with The Door County Master Gardeners,  Door County Seed Library and Crossroads will offer a three-part series of webinars by nationally-known and Wisconsin-based horticulturist Melinda Myers. The free webinar “Container Gardening Throughout the Year” will be screened at Crossroads on April 10, at 6:30pm and is free and open to the public.

On April 16 at 6:30 pm the Door County Beekeeper Club plan a special meeting for the purpose of helping new beekeepers. Speakers Len Arsenault, Max Martin, Mark Lentz will explain beekeeping equipment and recommend the supplies needed to get started, how to locate and set up your apiary, and how to install the bees in a hive. For beekeepers that lost a hive over the winter, they will cover cleaning the boxes and preparing to re-populate the hive. A variety of equipment will be available for people to examine.

As always, our trails are open all day every day, free of charge. Check the Crossroads website calendar for upcoming events and details.


Upcoming Activities

Wednesday, April 10

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Livestream Presentation: “Container Gardening Through the Year”

Watch this live-stream presentation of gardening expert Melinda Myers to learn how to use container gardens to boost the color and seasonal interest in any size landscape, garden, balcony, or deck. With your budget in mind, we will explore attractive combinations of trees, shrubs, flowers, edible plants, and those that attract pollinators. Plus, you’ll learn strategies for extending your enjoyment year-round by transforming all or a port portion of the container planting with the changing seasons. Sponsored by the Door County Library in collaboration with The Door County Master Gardeners, Door County Seed Library and Crossroads at Big Creek. Meet at the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon


Thursday, April 11

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Fish Tales Lecture Series: Suckers on the Move

Dr. Karen Murchie, Director of Freshwater Research of Shedd Aquarium, will present “Suckers on the move – what we’ve learned from tagging and tracking.”  Murchie will describe what has been discovered about movement of suckers using hydroacoustic tags in  Green Bay tributaries. The presentation will be held in-person at 7:00 pm in the lecture hall at the Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve, 2401 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Zoom and Facebook Live links will be available and offered in Door County Library website. Events calendar.


Saturday, April 13

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Habitat Healers: Plug Planting Day

Help heal the earth! Volunteers of all ages are invited to help with our land restoration efforts. This week we will be planting plugs! Wear clothing and footgear that can get dirty and wet and bring a water bottle. Instruction, equipment, and gloves provided along with cookies and lemonade at the end! You are welcome to sign up below to let us know you will be there but there is no need to register in advance and all ages are welcome. Meet at the Workshop at 2041 Michigan Street.


2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Science Saturdays: Pike & Suckers

Big Creek is locally famous as a spawning stream for northern pike and for suckers. Learners of all ages will learn a little about the natural history of these fishes, and weather permitting, will hike to the creek to make on-site observations. Dress for the weather. Free and open to the public. Meet at the Collins Learning Center, Crossroads, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon Bay


Tuesday, April 16

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Door County Beekeepers Club “Bee Installation and Equipment”

Door County Beekeeper Club plan a special meeting each spring for the purpose of helping new beekeepers. Speakers Len Arsenault, Max Martin and Mark Lentz will explain beekeeping equipment and recommend the supplies needed to get started, how to locate and set up your apiary, and how to install the bees in a hive. For beekeepers that lost a hive over the winter, they will cover cleaning the boxes and preparing to re-populate the hive. A variety of equipment will be available for people to examine. Free and open to the public. Meet at the Collins Learning Center, 2041 Michigan, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

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