The Virginia Opossum: Oakland County’s Mysterious Marsupial

18 Dec
WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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What animal lived during the age of the dinosaurs, gives birth 13 days after a honeymoon, has thumbs on their hind feet and is falsely accused of being, a big ugly rat? If you guessed Didelphis virginiana, the Virginia opossum, you are right. The opossum is the only marsupial found in North America; Oakland County is home for hundreds, if not thousands of these amazing omnivores. The Virginia Opossum has fifty teeth (the most of any mammal) and feeds on almost anything and everything. They will hunt, kill and eat mice and rats and relish rotting road kill and crunchy cockroaches. Bird eggs, berries, beetles, frogs, fish and fruits of all sorts are also on the delicacy list. Don’t forget to add snakes, slugs and snails too. To put it simply, if it produces a scent, the opossum will eat it. Continue reading

Squirrels: Master Nest Builders & Feeder Raiders

10 Dec
WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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This time of year, the squirrels of Oakland County are full speed ahead, with the notable exception of the seldom seen thirteen-lined ground squirrels that snooze the winter away underground in deep hibernation. Squirrels need to stay in the full speed ahead, always alert mode, if they expect to live until spring. Coyotes, red and gray foxes, red-tailed hawks, feral and domestic cats, and the great horned owls that hunt at dusk all pay attention to squirrels as a winter food source. Frequenting bird feeders, one of these hungry predators can easily find a bounty of busy squirrels.
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Coyotes in our Midst: Keep Them Wild!

3 Dec Coyote

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Coyotes present a clear and present danger—-to the furry, little, meaty meadow voles that live under the snow in meadows and lawns of Oakland County. Canis latrans, the eastern coyote, is very much at home in the parklands, woodlands and even the suburban and urban areas of Oakland County. Coyotes are elusive, adaptive, curious, and intelligent. They manage to hold their own and often thrive when living in close proximity to humans. Coyote sightings within city limits and along the trails of suburban parks in winter are not at all unusual. They are adapting to our ways and behaviors and have adjusted in our midst far more quickly than we have been able to fully learn about their ways.

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Turkey Tales on Oakland Trails

26 Nov

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Coyotes, foxes and great horned owls take keen interest in the wild turkey flocks that inhabit the oak-rich woodlands and brushy fields of the wilder side of Oakland County. When luck and hunting skill is on their side, this trio of stealthy predators often feasts on fine, feathery dinners.

These images of a coyote hunting and a wild turkey in the same field were captured by an infra-red activated wildlife camera in northern Oakland County.
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November: A Great Month for Hiking

19 Nov

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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November trails are mosquito free. The air is rich and crisp. Crowds are gone. In November, leafless woodlands are home to peaceful solitude and delicate beauty. Go for a hike on the trails of our county and you just may embrace the timeless words of Henry David Thoreau, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

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In the Dawn’s Early Light

12 Nov

 WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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In the dawn’s early light, an almost magical mist rises from peaceful lakes, reminding us of nature’s raw beauty reflected in the cold days of late autumn. Continue reading

TAMARACKS: Trees of Smoky Gold

6 Nov

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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The wind-swept, snow-laced dawn of November did not bring a total end to the magnificent kaleidoscope of colors that bathed October woodlands in the raw beauty of seasonal change. The brilliant leaves of sassafras, red maple and sugar maple are now huddled together on the forest floor offering shelter to tiny creatures underneath. Oak leaves are now brown and crackle in cold winds, but they do not fall to the ground until spring, for that is their way. Yet, in our healthy wetlands, a tree of subtle and brilliant beauty has reached peak color and seemingly illuminates the landscape at sunrise. Again at sunset, the view calls to mind shimmering lanterns of smoky gold.  The tamarack tree (Larix laricina), also known as the American Larch, went virtually unnoticed and unsung, until now. Continue reading

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