Here is a picture I took a few years ago of a red squirrel on a white pine tree, we used to get these squirrels a lot. They are very cute and make a lot of chirring type noises. Now we get mainly gray squirrels, but we are not getting as many this year because of a shortage of acorns.
Category Archives: wildlife
This is a picture of the rosy-maple moth that I took one year. It is a very unusual looking moth to say the least, and I just found it sleeping during the day.
I am reprinting a book review from a few years ago, Butterflies of the Northwoods.
Book Review: Butterflies of the North Woods
Butterflies of the North Woods by Larry Weber is an excellent field guide for identification of butterflies. It is part of the North Woods Naturalist series, covering the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. How many times have you seen a butterfly flying by, and weren’t sure what it was? This field guide not only has excellent photos, but it also has a lot of information on the habits of butterflies, such as what food they eat and what food the butterfly caterpillars eat. It really helped me out, because we get a lot of brown butterflies with eyespots in this area that all look very similar. It helped me to differentiate between them, by comparing the number of eyespots, etc. Also included is an interesting section on the history of butterflies, such as: butterflies are really a type of moth that may have started flying during the day to get away from moth-eating bats. There is also information on day-flying moths that only look like butterflies. Also part of the series: Moths and Caterpillars of the North Woods, Dragonflies of the North Woods, and Damselflies of the North Woods.
Reference: Larry Weber, Butterflies of the North Woods, 2nd edition,(Duluth,MN:Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2006
This butterfly is called the Northern Pearly Eye and it is a common butterfly in northern Michigan this time of year. It is brown with black spots, and can easily be confused with other small spotted butterflies. The Northern Pearly Eye is a bit larger than most, and often has an erratic flight high in the air. Consult a butterfly guidebook in order to tell all the different species apart.
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.
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 Mallard Duck on Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, MI. It was a calm and peaceful day in the early evening, and I just saw this duck sitting in the water, and thought it would make a good picture.
This is a picture I took a few years ago of a hairy woodpecker pecking on a tree in Michigan. They like to get the insects from under the bark. You can see some of these pieces of bark on the snow. They are delightful birds that will make a sharp “Peeeek!” sound if they are startled. They are similar in markings to the Downy Woodpecker, but they are larger.
This is a photo I took last year in Michigan of an Eastern Chipmunk in a Rhododendron bush. They gather many seeds, nuts and fruit in preparation for their winter sleep. It is not a real hibernation though, because they wake up periodically to eat from their store of food. They do have a somewhat lower body temperature when they sleep, however. There are many different regional chipmunks in different areas across the country. It can be rather hard to tell them apart. I reviewed a guidebook last year, The Audubon Guide to Mammals, that has a section that covers different kinds of chipmunks.
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.
Book Review: Reptiles and Amphibians of Michigan
This is a field guide to the many reptiles and amphibians of Michigan. The pictures are really beautiful, and the version I have also comes with a CD of frog and toad songs that you can use to aid your identification. There are different chapters for turtles, snakes, lizards, salamanders, and frogs and toads. There are also interesting introductions to all of these animals, showing how they are an integral part of the ecosystem. All in all, I found this to be quite an informative book, one that would even be useful to people outside of Michigan, since a lot of these animals appear in other states as well. I learned about quite a few animals I had never heard of before. At first it might appear that Michigan is not the best environment for these animals, since they are cold-blooded, but they all hibernate for the winter (which is detailed in the book), so it works out fine. Some of these animals have unusual names, such as the Queen Snake and the Eastern Hognose Snake. Others have an unusual appearance, such as the Blue-spotted Salamander and the Northern Leopard Frog. Also of interest is that the Painted Turtle is the Michigan State Reptile.
Reference: Reptiles and Amphibians of Michigan Field Guide, Stan Tekiela, Adventure Publications, Inc., Cambridge MA: 2004
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.
This is a photo of a toad that decided to make it’s home in a small flower pot. It is in the flower pot at left, and it came back to the same flower pot for many days.