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.
Tag Archives: nature
running through the grass
tail held high, fast as lightning
brownish blurry stripes
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.
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.
This is a spring and winter view of the same lake in Michigan. This time of year the lake is starting to thaw, and the different types of birds will soon be back. The little specks in the distance in the top photo are actually ducks.
I am re-posting this as a belated Groundhog Day post:
Groundhogs, Woodchucks, and Marmots
Woodchucks, otherwise known as Groundhogs, are actually a type of Marmot. Woodchucks and Marmots are classified as rodents, in the same family as squirrels, and actually look rather like large, roly-poly squirrels. The Woodchuck is a solitary animal that lives mainly in the eastern and central states, Canada, and part of Alaska. They can weigh from 4.5 – 14 pounds. Marmots are generally more sociable and some of them live in colonies and/or hibernate together. They live mainly in the mountainous western U.S., Canada, and Alaska, and can weigh from 5 – 20 pounds. There are many different kinds of Marmots, such as the Yellow-bellied Marmot, the Hoary Marmot, and the Olympic Marmot. Woodchucks and Marmots eat different types of grass, green plants, and fruit. Because of their special diet, they are not able to find food in the winter, as they do not store food like squirrels and do not eat twigs and buds like rabbits do. Instead they hibernate for many months at a time, up to half the year, depending on location. Even though some people do not like the holes in the ground that Woodchucks make, their digging activities can actually be beneficial to farmers, because it aerates the soil.
The fact that the Woodchuck is not found in the West, as well as the fact that the winters there are usually warmer, are probably at least part of the reason why Groundhog Day is more popular in the East. Groundhog Day (February 2nd) is roughly halfway between winter and spring. Legend has it that the Groundhog will emerge from its burrow on this day and if it sees its shadow (sunny weather), the Groundhog will become scared and run back in its burrow, therefore predicting six more weeks of winter. However, if it does not see its shadow (cloudy weather), it will stay outside and there will be an early spring. There are many regional weather-predicting Groundhogs across the U.S. and Canada. For instance, every year Woody the Woodchuck gives her annual prediction at the Howell Nature Center in Howell, Michigan. The problem is, they are only accurate about half the time or less, since it is hard to see how the weather on Feb 2 would really impact a weather pattern six weeks in the future. Another issue is that in much of their range, they are still hibernating and would not be coming out of their burrows until March or April, on account of their being nothing for them to eat. However, it does not stop people from having a lot of fun on Groundhog Day. One of the best things is it gives some publicity to a rather shy animal that not a whole lot of people see, since Woodchucks and Marmots usually run to their burrows at the first sign of disturbance.
Here are some websites to visit:
For more information on Woodchucks:
For more information on the history of Groundhog Day, as well as a list of weather-predicting Groundhogs throughout the U.S. and Canada:
For more information on the Yellow-bellied Marmot:
For more information on Woody the Woodchuck:
John O. Whitaker, Jr., National Audubon Society Guide to North American Mammals (New York: Chanticleer Press, 1996).
I am re-posting some scenes of an ice covered lake in Michigan.
I am re-posting some photos from the last couple of years. This is lake in northern Michigan. In the first photo, the ice formed early, trapping the fall leaves. In the second photo, the ice is just starting to cover the lake.
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 some years ago of a lake in Michigan. It was a beautiful sunny day, with just a few clouds in the sky. There is a small campground by the lake, and there are often ducks and geese as well.
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 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.