The Red Fox: Master of Adaptation

25 Aug

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A red fox watches closely after he detects a human ( Jonathan) watching him in the Brandon Township woods they both share.

A red fox watches closely after he detects a human ( Jonathan) watching him in the Brandon Township woods they both share.

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes fluva) is found in every county in Michigan, and is very much at home on the wilder (and not so wild) sides of Oakland County. These rusty-red colored predators with bushy white-tipped tails and black legs are not restricted to large woodlands, parklands and fields. Sometimes, red foxes will den near suburban homes or even in industrial areas that offer good hunting and a hiding habitat.  Fox commonly hunt near golf courses, where rabbits are easy to find and have no place to hide. It’s all a matter of adapting to opportunity and adjusting to the ways of humans that dominate their landscape.

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Back to School Vaccinations

22 Aug Back to School Vaccinations

The 2014 school year is fast approaching – which means back-to-school shopping, a back-to-school sleep schedule, and yes – back-to-school vaccinations.

The Oakland County Health Division offers immunizations for individuals of all ages at their offices in Pontiac and Southfield – and is urging families to get vaccinated as soon as possible. These vaccines can help to save your child’s life; the Health Division offers immunizations for 14 different diseases – from chicken pox, to pertussis, and many more.

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Duckweeds: Not Just for Ducks!

18 Aug

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Carpets of duckweed cover many small ponds and wooded wetlands.

August is the season of the duckweed, a wetland plant that thrives on the Wilder Side of Oakland County in sheltered bays, roadside ditches, wetlands and ponds. This small plant (the tiniest of our flowering plants) floats on the surface of still waters in great green mats, sometimes stretching from one side of the water source to the other.  Botanists boast that the surface area covered by duckweed can double in two days – which can be good news for waterfowl.

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COYOTES: Sensational Newspaper Articles Provoke Public Paranoia

12 Aug

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Coyote stalking meadow voles in a Brandon Township meadow. (Photo courtesy of Ron Lapp)

Coyote stalking meadow voles in a Brandon Township meadow. (Photo courtesy of Ron Lapp)

It happens every summer: sensational news reports vilify coyotes in Oakland County. The media transforms Canis latrans into something as foreign as an alien spacecraft landing. That style of reporting (in print and on television) creates bias by being short on facts and using such words as predatory and lurking.

Coyotes are predatory but the word predatory when placed before the word coyote creates fear.  Frogs, salamanders, hawks, robins and the beautiful eastern bluebird are also predatory. A phrase such as “The coyote was seen lurking in the woods” is often included in news reports. Lurking equates with sinister intent; you will never read, “A predatory bluebird was lurking at the edge of the woods,” in the newspaper.

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The Dog Days of Summer & Cool Cat Nights

6 Aug

Dog Days of Summer

The Oakland County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center has been hard at work all summer to save more lives. Since June 1st, the Center has helped more than 680 animals find or return to their forever home!

This Saturday, the Center is hosting its final summer pet adoption event. The Dog Days of Summer & Cool Cat Nights will be held on August 9th from 10am – 4pm at the Oakland County Animal Control & Pet Adoption Center in Auburn Hills (click HERE for location & contact information), and will be offering a special discount on adoptions.

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Chicory: More Than a Roadside Weed

31 Jul

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Chicory thrives along the side of many rural county roads.

Chicory thrives along the side of many rural county roads.

For the chicory plant, any part of Oakland County that does not come under the mower’s blade or is not bathed in herbicides becomes the “Wilder Side of Oakland County”. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is one of our most common, easily recognizable and delicately beautiful roadside weeds of mid-summer. But for me, and perhaps thousands of of others across the county, chicory is more than an abundant roadside weed. Chicory is a nutritious and highly versatile wild plant that holds a history of domestic use going back to a time before the American Revolution.

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OSPREY: Oakland County’s Amazing Fish Hawk!

25 Jul Adult osprey in flight near their cell tower nest.

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are experiencing resurgence in Oakland County.  The comeback story of these amazing raptors – they dive into shallow water to catch fish – is perhaps nature’s finest salute to the Wilder Side of Oakland County, and the habitat protection efforts of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).

The story begins back in 1972, when the Environmental Protection Agency banned the deadly insecticide DDT; before this ban, the osprey population was dire. Twenty-six years after the ban, the MDNR decided to re-introduce osprey to the lower half of Michigan. And now, the osprey’s population is growing at a healthy rate.

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