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Urban Wildlife

A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach

A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach

LAKE MICHIGAN -  Even a dog has to take a break from all the excitement of his backyard kingdom.  On this sunny summer day, George, my husband, and I head to the beach.  Our friends, Nancy and Don, own a cottage on Lake Michigan, and they have invited the three of us to spend the day at the beach.

This is George’s first visit to Lake Michigan.  The waves were a little intimidating at first.  He would sniff the water, but he would not allow himself to get wet.  He wouldn’t even dip his paw into the water to check it out.  Then something caught his eye.  George noticed the beautiful white birds walking along the water’s edge.  He tried to get close to these interesting critters, but they would simply fly off.

Silly me, I thought seagulls only lived by the ocean, and then I moved to Michigan and discovered the Big Lake is home to a thriving population of seagulls.  I have since learned that seagulls or gulls will live al

All Five Eggs Have Hatched

All Five Eggs Have Hatched

These past few weeks I’ve been carefully watering my hanging petunia plant. I try to make just a little noise to warn the mother bird that it’s time to water my plant. The mother bird, a red headed finch hears the noise and flies out of the nest, bolting to the electric wires above. She watches, chirping at me the whole time.  I remove the basket from the hook and place it on the cement step to carefully water the petunia plant away from the nest to protect the eggs.

Urban Wildlife - Critters who taunt George - Meet Nutty

Urban Wildlife - Critters who taunt George - Meet Nutty

George is one of the most good-natured dogs you will ever meet.  I feel bad for him when “Nutty” and his squirrelly friends taunt him.  I think they realize they are safe around George since he is not very fast on his feet.  We have two types of squirrels living in our backyard: several Fox Squirrels and one American Red Squirrel.

Fox Squirrels are the largest squirrels in Michigan.  They are sometimes confused with the slightly smaller Eastern Gray Squirrel.  The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is Fox Squirrels have reddish-orange bellies, while their cousins, the Gray Squirrels, have white bellies.

Urban Wildlife - Meet Hawkeye

Urban Wildlife - Meet Hawkeye

Hawkeye” is the most feared creature in our urban forest.  I think the critters fear him even more than “Kitty”, the neighborhood’s gray tabby.

The critters (birds and the four legged kind) must have a sixth sense.  They will be happily eating and all of sudden they all scatter.  Several seconds later, Hawkeye will fly over the backyard or land in a nearby tree.

I think Hawkeye is a Cooper’s Hawk.  The most common urban hawk is the Cooper’s Hawk, which can be confused with the smaller look-alike Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Urban Wildlife - Meet Tommy and Henrietta

Urban Wildlife - Meet Tommy and Henrietta

George and his Backyard Critters – Meet “Tommy” and “Henrietta”:

“Tommy” and “Henrietta” are the wild turkeys who live in the neighborhood and visit our bird feeder once in a while. We don’t see the turkeys very often, maybe it’s because they can go 14 to 20 days without food.

Michigan turkeys disappeared in the late 1800’s. In the 1950’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced turkeys in southwestern Michigan and later in the northern part of the state.  Today, there are about 200,000 wild turkeys roaming around Michigan.

Two of those turkeys live in our Forest Hills neighborhood. They are the Eastern Wild Turkey variety.

And There Were Five

And There Were Five

Remember my Bird Nest Dilemma story not too long ago about my hanging petunia plant with a small nest and 4 tiny eggs in it. Well, Tuesday, May 24, I took my hanging plants down to water them and, SURPRISE – there are now 5 tiny eggs.  As you can see in the picture, the bottom left light pink translucent egg must have been recently laid.  I’m not a bird enthusiast and I don’t know if this is a common birthing procedure but if not, this mother bird must have been quite alarmed to discover she had another baby on the way, a few days later.  I, as a woman & mother, would be truly surprised to have another baby, days after I delivered the first one!

It's That Time, Again!

It's That Time, Again!

Last weekend, my husband & I drove up to our woods property in Big Rapids to water some trees that we planted and we walked around hunting for morel mushrooms. We noticed that the vegetation was not right for the mushroom season but my husband found 3 partially dried up mushrooms. Mushroom hunting has always been a favorite of mine, even though I don’t have that x-ray vision, like some do who find grocery bags full of morel mushrooms. The few that I discover are a delicious treat!