Wild Turkeys: A Time to Strut, A Time to Gobble!

16 Apr

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Wild Male Turkey

Tom turkeys (adult male turkeys) are strutting their stuff in the woods of Oakland County and proudly displaying their multi colored feathers that glitter with metallic shades of copper, bronze, gold and red.   And when hens (female turkeys) respond – game on!

Wild Turkeys - Park

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Restoring Nature and Wildlands with Fire!

10 Apr Parks - Fire

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“From the beginning, earth, wind, fire and water were the four major forces of nature which shaped the diverse mosaic of life that is our world. Lighting was the initial match that ignited fires. Fire was probably one of the first products of nature that humans learned to control. When humans learned to initiate fire, its occurrence became more widespread.”  Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Parks - Fire

Prescribed fires differ greatly from wildfires. Wildfires are accidental and uncontrolled. Prescribed fires, sometimes referred to as controlled burns, and are set intentionally after careful study with specific management goals in mind and with the safety of people and property major considerations. When the correct weather and wind conditions are present the Michigan Department of Natural Resources conducts burns on state land, and many parks in Oakland County conduct their prescribed fires. These fires usually take place in early April before the landscape greens up.

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EASTERN BLUEBIRDS of OAKLAND (with tributes from Thoreau)

1 Apr Eastern Bluebird

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“A man’s interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the flora and fauna of a town.” Henry David Thoreau

Eastern bluebirds have at long last announced the delayed arrival of spring to Oakland County with flight and song. Their brilliant royal blue backs and rusty brown breasts add rich warmth to fields and meadows laced with remnants of crusty ice and slushy snow. Perhaps these beautiful members of the thrush family responded to the words of Thoreau:   “His soft warble melts in the ear, as the snow is melting in the valleys around. The bluebird comes and with his warble drills the ice and sets free the rivers and ponds and frozen grounds…the leading edge of spring.”

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Song of the Sandhills

26 Mar Sandhill Cranes

Wilder Side of Oakland County

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“A dawn wind stirs on the great marsh. With almost imperceptible slowness it rolls a bank of fog across the wide morass. Like the white ghost of a glacier the mists advance, riding over phalanxes of tamarack, sliding across bog-meadows heavy with dew. A single silence hangs from horizon to horizon.” Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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“High horns, low horns, silence and finally a pandemonium of trumpets, rattles, croaks and cries that almost shakes the bog with its nearness, but without yet disclosing whence it comes. At last a glint of sun reveals the approach of a great echelon of birds. On motionless wings they emerge from the lifting mists, sweep a final arc of sky, and settle in clangorous descending spirals to their feeding grounds. A new day has begun in the marsh.“ Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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Once Upon a Time in Oakland County…

26 Mar Featured Image -- 846

Originally posted on Oakland Schools ~ Michigan:

…It’s a REAL STORY (not a Fairy-Tale) That You Need to Read!

“It is going to be a story about something that has been the fabric of American life and opportunity for centuries. It is a story about American ideals, about equal opportunity, about American ingenuity. It is a story, about public education and all it has attempted to provide as it has grown, improved, been challenged – and its ongoing effort to survive those challenges.”  – Dr. Vickie Markavitch, Supt. of Oakland Schools

CLICK ON IMAGE below to flip through this picture book — and discover the real-life story unfolding RIGHT NOW in public education.

Oakland Schools

Click on Image to Read the Story

(VIEW this NEW eBook to see how this tale is affecting our book’s cast of Oakland County characters!)

The storybook is from Dr. Markavitch’s State of Oakland County Schools Address on March 19, 2014…

View original 47 more words

March of the Marsupial!

19 Mar

Wilder Side of Oakland County

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Breeding season is risky. To find a mate Didelphis virginians must scurry across open fields, cross busy highways and negotiate tortuous creek banks flanked with slippery ice in a world full of predators.  Cars, owls, hawks, raccoons, coyotes, fox and domestic dogs all take their toll.  And then, just 12 days after a hastily arranged honeymoon 12 – 20 helpless babies no bigger than honey bees must attempt a difficult fur-clinging climb from the birth canal to the pouch and struggle for the 13 teats as mom waddles about in her solitary ways.  If more than 13 are born to this amazing creature with 50 teeth and a prehensile tail they will not survive.  This is not a creature of myth.  This is the Virginia opossum, a species that thrives close to homes in Oakland County and is found in every Oakland County Park.

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Opossums are not   ‘big rats’.  They are not even rodents.   They are marsupials (pouched mammals), and one of their closest cousins is the kangaroo.   Opossums have stalked the earth for 70 million years and are the only marsupial found in Michigan.  Hollow trees, abandoned woodchuck burrows, the underside of suburban decks or even abandoned dog houses are perfect den sites.

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Many suffered from frost bite and others perished in winter; their tails, ears and toes are all furless.  But for those that survived until spring, the county transformed into a world of plenty.  As omnivores they eat anything they find or can kill; the list is long and includes bugs, beetles, berries, worms, bird eggs, fruits, snakes, frogs and road kill. Road kill consumption is a dangerous practice for when frightened opossums freeze in place or flop over flat adding themselves to the roadside collection of entrees.  Although chiefly nocturnal, during the early days of spring warmth they are sometimes seen grubbing about under bird feeders or meandering on still snow covered but sunny trails.

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Text and photos by Jonathan Schechter, Nature Education Writer, Oakland County Parks.  www.destinationoakland.com

Skunk Cabbage – Snow Melting Wizard of the Woods!

14 Mar Skunk Cabbage

Time again to take a look at the wilder side of Oakland County!

I have been an unabashed admirer of skunk cabbage ever since I was a six-year -old  barefooted swamp- tromping adventurer in the backwoods of rural Connecticut.  Much has changed over the years, but as the first wafts of warm air excite us and chickadees sing their prelude to spring, I am once again in search of skunk cabbage, now armed with a compass, camera and an old mercury thermometer. There is far more to the wonders of skunk cabbage than meets the casual eye.

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