I’m re-posting this photo of an American Toad in the yard. It was just hiding in the grass and didn’t mind that I took a photo of it. This is the dark green color phase, the other color phase is dark brown.
Category Archives: nature
Book Review: Audubon Eastern Birds
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region by John Bull and John Farrand Jr., is a really nice field guide for getting an overview of the kinds of birds you are seeing in your backyard or at parks. There is an explanation of the range maps and types of birds at the beginning, and there are beautiful color pictures of the birds in a special section, organized by type of bird and color. I especially liked the section on owls. They also show both male and female birds when they have different coloring. The next section is a section of bird descriptions and range maps that correspond to the bird photos. There is also a description of their calls, but sometimes it can be a little hard to transcribe bird songs. You just have to make sure that you keep the page numbers straight, because the number of the “plates”, (photos of the birds), are different from the page numbers of the bird descriptions, and you just need to make sure you have the right number, or you’ll turn to the wrong page. All in all, I think this is an excellent book, but I would like it if the descriptions of the birds were more detailed. There is also an Audubon Western Birds book as well.
I am reposting a couple of photos from last year. The first one is a photo of a Red Squirrel, and the second one is an Eastern Chipmunk. We get these animals a lot where I live. The Red Squirrel prefers pinecones while the chipmunk prefers acorns.
I took this photo of a Painted Turtle several years ago in Traverse City. It is the state reptile of Michigan. A lot of people don’t know that in addition to a state bird, there is also a state reptile. This is one of the most common turtles throughout Michigan. This photo was taken near a small pond, as turtles need to spend time around water.
This is a picture I took a few years ago of a Leopard Frog on Big Bear Lake in Michigan. This is only the second time I have seen this frog. It was just sunning itself by the lake as I was walking by, and I just happened to see it. It is quite a striking frog, but I think the spots probably work well as camouflage.
Book Review: Field Guide to Tracking Animals in Snow
by Louise R. Forrest, illustrations by Denise Casey
This is a little late in the season, but we just got a bunch of snow last week, so it is still relevant. This is a nicely laid out book that contains information about all of the mammals in North America, and also their track patterns. It could also be used as a way to track animals in sand or mud as well. The text is accompanied by beautiful drawings, and there is an introduction at the beginning of every section that covers information on that family of animals. Also at the beginning is a very detailed introduction on the different track patterns that are formed in the snow.
Reference: Field Guide to Tracking Animals in Snow, Louise R. Forrest, Stackpole Books: Mechanicsburg, PA, 1988
Spring Wildlife Sightings
Recently four female deer walked through our yard and into the woods. It was nice to see them after the winter. I also have been seeing a group of about fifteen wild turkeys. Even when it was snowing, they were there walking through the snow. Also, there was a male wild turkey in the woods that was making the gobble, gobble noise at dawn and dusk, like a rooster. I think that it was doing this to mark its territory. We have recently gotten several inches of snow, so it does not quite look like spring yet.
This is a photo I took a couple of years ago of a Red Squirrel on a white pine tree. Red Squirrels prefer white pine trees to other trees because they like the pine nuts. As you can see, they are not really red, but are more of a reddish-brown. They are also very active and like to chatter a lot. I have more information on them here: https://studiobluespruce.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/red-squirrels/
This is a picture of leaves frozen in the ice of an inland lake in Michigan. It is the same lake in the photo Pine Tree by Frozen Lake . I think its really interesting the way the leaves got stuck in the ice like this, I’ve never quite seen it this way before, but we had an early freeze last year.
This is a photo of a mostly frozen inland lake in Michigan. There is a white pine tree overlooking the lake. This photo was taken last year, as we are having rather warm temperatures this year.
For the past couple of months, we have been having a flock of Wild Turkeys in the area that includes females, males, and some younger turkeys. It is a large flock, probably about twenty turkeys in all. Usually the flock around here consists of female turkeys and their young, so it was a surprise to see so many males. The males are about twice as large as the females, and they fan their rear feathers some, so it is easy to tell which ones they are. The turkeys spend a lot of time in the woods looking for things to eat under the leaves (probably insects and larvae). Even if you can’t see them, you can tell they are there, because they make scratching and clucking noises. They are very peaceful birds, and very enjoyable to watch.
This is a photo I took of a black squirrel with an unusual white tail. There were two squirrels like this that were coming around for over a year, but I don’t see them anymore. By the way, the black squirrel is really a variation of the gray squirrel, but is often found farther north.
This is a photo of an American Toad hiding in the grass in the yard. It is a very large toad, and darker in color. Their color can range from brown to dark green, depending on the temperature. They can live for several years. There is another toad that is less common, called the Fowler’s Toad.
These were photos that I took few years ago of a white-tailed female deer and her fawns. The pictures are a bit blurry because the deer were moving at the time.
This is a photo of a Rosy Maple Moth that I found resting on a wall near my house during the daytime. It had a fuzzy yellow head, pink and yellow wings, and rose-colored feet. This has definitely been the most unusual moth I have ever seen. Soon after I took the photo, it flew away.
This is another photo of a foggy lake in Michigan. There is a small island in the lake that you can see straight ahead in the distance, through the fog.
This is picture of a foggy lake in Michigan, with mallard ducks in the distance.
I have been seeing a Red Fox family by the woods. There is an adult fox and also two young kits, they look about the size of an average puppy. Sometimes I hear them barking at night as well. The pups were playing around some and at one point they went off into the woods. So after waiting a bit I decided to follow them, but the adult fox barked at me, so I turned back so I wouldn’t disturb them. Red Foxes are not actually red, but are more like a tangerine color this time of year. Then in the fall they turn more of a rusty auburn shade. We also have another kind of fox here called the Gray Fox, and that fox is a silvery gray on top with brown underneath and yellow-orange on the sides.
We have been getting a lot of owls around here in recent months. The two most common kinds are the Great Horned Owl and the Barred Owl. The Great Horned Owl is a very large owl that makes the sound that most people associate with owls: hoo, hoo, hoo-hoo. The Barred Owl is almost as large and makes a highly unusual sound that can almost sound like a barking dog. It roughly sounds like hoo, hoo, hoo-aw! I tend to hear these owls either right around dusk, or late at night. The most unusual owl I have heard is the Saw-whet owl. It is a very small owl, smaller than a robin, and makes a high pitched tooting noise that sounds like: toot, toot, toot. It really doesn’t sound like an owl at all. All of these owls are hard to spot because their coloring (grayish-brown) blends in so well.
Reference: John Bull and John Farrand, Jr., National Audubon Society Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region, revised edition (New York: Chanticleer Press, 1994)
This is a photo of a winter sunset on a lake in Michigan, taken a few years ago.