Return to Fox Corners

Fox Trio by TP Mann Photography

Back on June 1st, I shared a photo of two fox kits by TP Mann. As you can see, they’ve grown! He writes:

On a beautiful breezy summer evening I was able to watch these young foxes out by their den. A group of birds over and behind me were getting the full attention of this trio along with the old man and the camera.

See more & lots of other great photography on his Flickr!

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A stroll through the woods

Just another stroll through the woods… by Kevin Povenz

Here’s a beautiful scene Kevin captured back in 2015 at Grand Ravines North Park in Ottawa County. See more in his Sunrise/Sunset album & have a great day!

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American White Pelicans Expanding Michigan Range

American White Pelicans on Lake Huron by kare hav

American White Pelicans on Lake Huron by kare hav

The photographer writes that it’s hard to believe that there’s pelicans in Michigan, but here they are. In an in-depth Great Lakes Echo feature, Eric Freedman writes that American White Pelicans are expanding their breeding range in Michigan & North America:

The species “is undergoing a dramatic expansion of its breeding range in North America,” the study published in the journal Ontario Birds said. “The nesting on Lake Erie, so far from the colony sites in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, seems unusual. Why such a large dispersal from the nearest breeding colony 550 km (340 miles) away?”

Now they’re spreading eastward.

…That distance “is and is not unusual,” said study co-author D.V. Chip Weseloh, a retired Great Lakes waterbird specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. “Pelicans are strange birds and will range far and wide hundreds of miles to feed,” a feat documented with radio transmitters.

With its 9-foot wingspan, the American white pelican is one of North America’s largest birds and feeds primarily on fish, according to the Audubon Society.

The overall population declined through the first half of the 1900s but has grown substantially since the 1970s. It’s protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List categorizes it as a species of least concern.

Lots more in the Echo!

View more in Kare Hav’s Pt. Lookout/Augres gallery on Flickr.

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Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest underway

a Belle Isle deer by Race Bannon

a Belle Isle deer by Race Bannon

The Detroit News Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest rewards outstanding photos of Michigan, its people and animals, with nine prizes of as much as $300 doled out at the end of the summer:

Each week, judges from the Detroit News photo staff will select 4 photo finalists, 16 total in each category over the entire contest period. At the end of the contest, The Detroit News photo staff judges will select one winner in each category. One People’s Choice winner in each category will be chosen by an online public vote, Aug. 20-24. Each of the six winners will receive $300.

At the end of the contest, three Awards of Excellence will be chosen by the Detroit News photo staff from the remaining finalists of all three themes, and will receive $100 each.

The Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest is open to non-professional photographers age 18 and older. All photos must have been shot in Michigan, with no significant alteration by a software program. More specifics can be found in the official contest rules.

Race gave me a heads up about the contest, so I went back to a favorite photo of mine that he took 15 years ago. See more in his My Belle Isle gallery.

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At Home with the Fox Twins

Taking in the Surroundings by TP Mann

Taking in the Surroundings by TP Mann

I know I’m running the risk of becoming an adorable animals photo blog, but darn are these little foxes cute! Here’s a little about baby foxes and what to do if you encounter one from Friends of Wildlife in Ann Arbor:

There are two species of fox in Michigan, the Red and the Gray. The Red prefer meadow areas and the Gray favor woods.

As with most wildlife, the kits are born in early spring. The vixen (female fox) chooses a hollow log, an empty woodchuck hole or a roadside culvert for the nursery. This nest site provides her young protection from predators, especially coyotes. The male fox helps with the rearing by bringing the vixen food while she nurses their young and keeps the kits warm. Then later in the kits development both parents teach them how to forage for food.

The foxes diet consists mainly of small rodents, moles and bugs. The benefits that foxes afford farmland, orchards and the general public is their consumption of these invasive pests. It is an absolute miss conception that fox eat cats, dogs or small children.They are very curious creatures but avoid contact with domestic animals and humans.

When fox kits are first born, their eyes and ears are closed, they remain secluded in their den with their mother. As they develop, at about one month, they start venturing out to play, attacking twigs, leaves and their siblings, but never far from the protection of the den.

If you do find an infant fox, please contact them for further instructions and see their website for information about other species!

See more in TP’s Sites Along the Breezeway photo album.

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Say hello to North American river otters on World Otter Day!

Otters by Brent West

Otters by Brent West

Today (May 27) is International Otter Day, created by the International Otter Survival Fund to raise awareness of their work protecting, conserving, and caring for otters everywhere. Environment Michigan shares five great things about Michigan native otter, the North American River Otter:

1. They’re good fishers
Otters spend most of their life around water, and fish typically make up the majority of their diet. These members of the weasel family travel vast distances along waterways and over land to fish other areas. They’re good explorers, often setting up multiple dens away from their homes to find the best fishing spots.

2. They’re good swimmers
River otters’ sinuous, streamlined bodies and long tails propel them through water with ease. They can turn on a dime while swimming, and hold their breath underwater for up to eight minutes. With populations in nearly every state in the U.S., their thick, warm and waterproof coats allow them to swim in very cold environments.

3. They have fun
River otters are playful animals, and as far as we can tell, they’re often having a good time — swimming, fishing, sliding, wrestling, chasing each other, and just generally having a blast. We hope to be so lucky this summer!

4. They play a key role in aquatic ecosystems
River otters need clean, watery habitat with plenty of prey, so they are a key indicator of the health of a waterway. River otters are not found in highly-polluted watersheds.

5. When we appreciate river otters, we also appreciate clean water
In the face of pollution and uncontrolled development, river otters were once eradicated from many portions of the country. Conservation, re-introduction efforts, and national legislation like the Clean Water Act have helped bring them back from the brink.

Though river otters have returned to much of their historic range, their overall population today is estimated at only 100,000. To protect the river otter, we must protect our rivers, lakes, and streams from pollution and destruction. River otters give us just one more reason – a very cute reason – to stand up for our waterways.

Brett took this way back in 2010. See more in his Random photo album.

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Reflections on World Turtle Day!

Reflections (Turtles) by Glen Suszko

Reflections (turtles) by Glen Suszko

I know I said I was taking the weekend off, but May 23rd is World Turtle Day, one of my favorite days! It was created by the good people at American Tortoise Rescue to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.

Every year I’m happy to report that one of the most popular features on Michigan in Pictures remains Know Your Michigan Turtles that I wrote back in 2013 and have added to through the years with photos and articles about every one of Michigan’s 10 native turtle species including our most common one, the painted turtle.

The UM Animal Diversity web has pictures and information about Chrysemys picta (the painted turtle) and says that:

Painted turtles prefer living in freshwater that is quiet, shallow, and has a thick layer of mud.

Painted turtles are brightly marked. They have a smooth shell about 90 to 250 mm long. Their shell acts as protection, but since the ribs are fused to the shell, the turtle cannot expand its chest to breathe but must force air in and out of the lungs by alternately contracting the flank and shoulder muscles. The painted turtle has a relatively flat upper shell with red and yellow markings on a black or greenish brown background.

Painted turtles may live as long as 35 to 40 years, but most will not survive for this long

Glen took this photo last month at Stony Creek Metropark. Visit his Flickr for lots more photos!

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Michigan

Eye of Reflection by Joshua DuPuis

Eye of Reflection by Joshua DuPuis

I’ve always thought of this bird as an insult from Looney Tunes, but All About Birds from Cornell University explains that Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers:

…are fairly small woodpeckers with stout, straight bills. The long wings extend about halfway to the tip of the stiff, pointed tail at rest. Often, sapsuckers hold their crown feathers up to form a peak at the back of the head.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.

You can click through to All About Birds for more including videos & audio! Lansing-based Feed the Birds (who shares my Looney memories) adds:

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers arrive back in mid-Michigan in April from their wintering grounds in the southern U.S., Mexico, West Indies, and Central America.

I’ve seen evidence of their presence before on the trunks of the pine trees. Sapsuckers tap for sap as their main food source. On my trees the sapsucker seems to like to drill patches of several shallow rows across and several shallow rows down. These neatly organized patches of holes well up with sap that the sapsucker laps up with their brush-like tongue (not sucks). He also eats any bugs that happen to get trapped in the sticky stuff.

These predrilled sweet sap sources benefit hummingbirds, waxwings, and warblers as well when they need a quick, sweet bite while traveling.

Joshua took this photo of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Antrim County. Click to visit Joshua’s Flickr and use the > at the right of the photo to see several more shots of this lovely bird!

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Wood Duck Wednesday

Wood Ducks by Third Son

Wood Ducks by Third Son

The All About Birds listing for Aix sponsa (wood duck) says in part:

The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.

Wood Ducks thrive in bottomland forests, swamps, freshwater marshes, and beaver ponds. They are also common along streams of all sizes, from creeks to rivers, and the sheer extent of these make them an important habitat. Wood Ducks seem to fare best when open water alternates with 50–75% vegetative cover that the ducks can hide and forage in.

A few wood duck facts:

  • Natural cavities for nesting are scarce, and the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females. (click for info about building a nest box)
  • The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times up to 2 km (1.2 mi) away. After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 89 m (290 ft) without injury.
  • Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.

More including wood duck calls at All About Birds.

Third Son took this yesterday – see more in his Birds 2020 gallery & definitely do yourself a favor and have a look at his most popular pics!

Many (many) more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

The 2020 Michigan Morel Season is Underway!

Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta) by J Sommer

Yellow Morel (Morchella esculenta) by J Sommer

The online mushroom groups I’m in are already filling up with photos of happy people & their hauls of a popular Michigan springtime delicacy – morel mushrooms! The Michigan Department of Natural Resources  offers a Morel Mushroom Hunting page that features information about morels & morel identification, hunting tips, recipes, and also a map of the large burn sites in forested areas are ideal for morel mushroom hunting, especially in burned areas where jack, white or red pine once grew. Grassy and other non forest areas are not as likely to produce morels:

May is morel month in Michigan, but the actual fruiting period is from late April until mid-June, depending on where you are and what species you are hunting. Contrary to common belief, morels are not confined to the northern part of the state – some of the best picking is in southern Michigan.

MOREL HUNTING TIPS

  • Make your first several mushroom hunts, whether for morels or other edible mushroom species, with someone who knows mushrooms.
  • Buy or download a mushroom guide. A good guidebook is “The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide” by Alexander H. Smith, recognized as America’s foremost authority on mushroom identification, and Nancy Smith Weber. There also is a very good mushroom identification booklet available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.
  • Be prepared to cover a lot of ground and to experience disappointments when searching for morels. Some spots yield mushrooms year after year, while others skip several seasons between crops.
  • Don’t expect to find morels easily if you are new to the pastime. Because they blend into their background of last fall’s leaves and dead grass, they are hard to see even if you are looking right at them. Your “eye” for morels will sharpen with practice, and you will need to retrain it every spring.
  • Most important of all – know what you are eating! You will need to know the difference between a “true” morel and the “false morels,” such as beefsteak mushrooms, which are poisonous. (See morel identification information.)
  • For more information on morel mushroom hunting in Michigan, visit Pure Michigan or Midwest American Mycological Information.

J Sommer took this photo back in May of 2017 near Saginaw. See this photo and more in their Fungi gallery on Flickr.

There is a bunch more information about morels at the morel tag on Michigan in Pictures.