April 17, 2014
Last year I cited the Michigan Natural Features Inventory entry for Great Blue Heron Rookeries. It remains the definitive source, so I guess a rewind is in order:
The great blue herons in Michigan are largely migratory, with almost all leaving the state during the winter months. Most leave by end of October and return in early to mid-March.
The great blue heron is mostly a colonial nester, occasionally they nest in single pairs. Colonies are typically found in lowland swamps, islands, upland hardwoods and forests adjacent to lakes, ponds and rivers. Nests are usually in trees and may be as high as 98 ft. (30 m) or more from the ground. The platform like nests are constructed out of medium-sized sticks and materials may be added throughout the nesting cycle. Nests are usually lined with finer twigs, leaves, grass, pine needles, moss, reeds, or dry gras. The same nests are refurbished and used year after year…
Most great blue herons return to southern Michigan heronries in mid-March although a few may remain through the winter if there are areas of open water. Courtship and nest building commences from early April in southern Michigan to early May in the extreme northern portions of the state. Both sexes are involved in the nest building process with males primarily gathering sticks from the ground, nearby trees, or ungarded nearby nests. Males pass sticks to females who then place them on the nests.
April 14, 2014
There’s an eclipse of the full moon tonight! It begins at 2 AM Eastern time with the total eclipse lasting 78 minutes and starting about 3 AM. While the forecast is not great, it looks like there’s a chance that those brave souls who trade sleep for a shot at viewing the eclipse won’t be disappointed.
Eastern Daylight Time (April 15, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 1:58 a.m. EDT on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 3:07 a.m. EDT
Greatest eclipse: 3:46 a.m. EDT
Total eclipse ends: 4:25 a.m. EDT
Partial eclipse ends: 5:33 a.m. EDT
If you’re up in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, they are having a star party tonight. If anyone knows of other viewing gatherings, post them in the comments! If the eclipse ends up getting clouded out locally, you can always take to the net and watch via the live stream from the Griffith Observatory. As I wrote about last week, this eclipse is the first of four total eclipses without a partial in between known as a Lunar Tetrad.
This photo is of the ghost forest on Sleeping Bear Point created when sand of the world’s largest shifting sand dune covered living trees.
April 11, 2014
In “A sad day” for Michigan bats: White-nose syndrome found in 3 counties, Michigan Radio reports:
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today confirmed the presence of white-nose syndrome in three counties: Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac.
White-nose syndrome is blamed for the deaths of six million bats in 27 states and five Canadian provinces since 2006. In some places where the fungus outbreak has taken hold, 90% of the bats have died.
“We anticipated that this day would come. It’s not unexpected. But it’s still a sad day,” says Dan O’Brien, a state wildlife veterinarian. “Once this fungus gets into a bat hibernacula it’s going to be there, current evidence suggests, for a long time.”
The fungal disease could have a big impact on Michigan’s economy. Wildlife biologists estimate bats have a roughly $1 billion impact on the state’s agriculture industry by eating harmful insects.
“At this point, there is no effective treatment for WNS and no practical way to deliver the treatment to millions of affected bats even if treatment existed. Rehabilitation of bats is prohibited in Michigan because of the potential for the exposure of humans to rabies,” said O’Brien. “The best thing the public can do when they find a dying or dead bat is to leave it alone and keep children, livestock and pets away from it.”
Bat die-offs can be reported through an observation report on the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/wildlife or by calling the DNR at 517-336-3050.
More animals on Michigan in Pictures.
April 7, 2014
April 2, 2014
Although this photo is from a year and two days ago, reports are starting to roll in of crocus sightings. That’s good enough for me – set a course for Spring, Warp 6!
In the Month of March the average temperature for these cities were well below normal. March was 10 degrees below normal in Houghton Lake and 11 degrees below normal in Gaylord. This past March was the 3rd coldest on record in Alpena, and in both Gaylord and Houghton Lake it was the coldest on record!
March 28, 2014
I feel like the one on the left says everything I have to say about snow, cold and Winter. Here’s three facts from the DNR’s Michigan Black Bear Facts page – click through for more:
What is the status of black bear in Michigan?
Approximately 15,000 – 19,000 black bears (including cubs) roam the hardwood and conifer forests of northern Michigan. About 90 percent of the bear live in the Upper Peninsula, while the remaining ten percent are mainly found in the northern Lower Peninsula. However, it is becoming increasingly common to see bear in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. …
When do bear breed?
Breeding takes place in June and July and cubs are born in early January while females are in dens. A litter may consist of one to four cubs, with two or three cubs being most common. An adult female bear usually breeds every other year, but may mate in consecutive years if cubs are lost before mid summer. A female bear will generally breed for the first time at 2′/z years of age in the northern Lower Peninsula, and at 3′/2 years of age in the Upper Peninsula.
What are bear cubs like?
At birth, bear cubs weigh less than one pound, but mother’s rich milk helps them grow quickly. Mother and cubs emerge from the den in spring, with the cubs weighing up to ten pounds. Cubs are under the watchful eyes of their mother throughout the summer and fall seasons. As autumn nears its end, the female once again searches for a suitable den site for herself and her cubs. After emerging from the den the following spring, the adult female will stay with her offspring until she is ready to breed again in June. At that time, she aggressively discourages the companionship of these now yearling bear and they are forced to fend for themselves.
Lots more about American black bears (Ursus americanus) at the UM Animal diversity web. About the photo Ross writes:
Baby black bears being held during a bear den visit in late March 2014. These baby bears are being counted, measured, weighed and analyzed so researchers can understand more about the overall health of the black bear population in Michigan. Researchers are also tracking their movement as some bears shift into southern Michigan.
More animals on Michigan in Pictures.
March 26, 2014
Although the Soo Locks opened yesterday, UpNorthLive reports that for the first time in 20 years no ships passed through. Click through for a video story that includes footage from the Locks and an interview with Soo Locks Lock Master Tom Soeltner.
About the photo, the Coast Guard News writes:
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw steers the cutter through the fog as it passed through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., March 21, 2014. The Mackinaw along with the Coast Guard Cutters Morro Bay and Katmai Bay passed through the locks together en route to breaking ice in the St. Marys River and Lake Superior in preparation of the scheduled opening of the Locks, March 25. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.
March 25, 2014
Thing number 757 about Michigan that I think is cool: you can ride bikes on lakes.
…AHH Spring, when a young man’s fancy turns towards . . . riding around the lake ON the lake! Still very much frozen solid in western Michigan! Temps tonight well below freezing, a few inches of snow predicted, and people are riding on the ice on fat bikes! Have a good “spring” week Facebook and Flickr friends!
March 24, 2014
March 24 is Harry Houdini’s birthday and a great time to share the story of Harry Houdini and Jack Rabbit Beans via Waymarking.com:
We showed up at 9:00 am, after a two hour drive, to take a little tour of a few neon gems in Saginaw, MI. Our tour guide was local historian Thomas Mudd. This was the first one on our tour. After our tour, we spent the day looking around until it was time to go back for the night shots. According to Mr. Mudd, you can thank Harry Houdini for this sign.
Houdini performed the “Rabbit-in-the-hat-act” at the Jeffers-Strand Theater in Saginaw in the late 1920′s. He needed a volunteer and whoever helped him would get to keep the rabbit. A young girl named Phyllis R. Symons volunteered, and when the act was over she waited for her rabbit.
Houdini tried to get her off stage and told her he would give her something else afterwards. But she would not leave the stage until she received the rabbit. Houdini eventually gave her the rabbit, which in 1937 would become the symbol of Jack Rabbit Beans. Phyllis’ father, Albert L. Reidel, co-founded Port Huron-based Producers Elevator Co. It later became Michigan Bean Co., the maker of Jack Rabbit Beans.
Sadly, Phyllis could not keep the rabbit in town, so it got sent to her grandparents in Minden City. They too were unable to put up with the rambunctious bunny, and one day Phyllis and her parents paid a visit and found the rabbit on the menu. Phyllis was in shock that they could eat the rabbit. Albert Reidel thought it was funny.
March 22, 2014
Michigan Gardener’s plant focus on Snowdrops begins:
The very first bulb to cheerfully announce spring is the snowdrop. As the last winter snow melts, carpets of delicate white flowers emerge through last year’s fallen leaves. Snowdrops will reliably return year after year despite Mother Nature’s most challenging winters. The botanical name, Galanthus, comes from the Greek words Gala meaning “milk” and anthos meaning “flower.” They will thrive in the rich, moist soil usually found in the shade provided by deciduous trees. Few bulbs can tolerate shade, but snowdrops develop in the winter sun well before the leaves of trees and shrubs have expanded. Their flowers last for several weeks beginning in early March and persisting through the cool days of spring in early April. Once planted, Galanthus require no maintenance.
Read on at Michigan Gardener and bring on the spring!