Woodchuck Weather: Groundhogs dash hopes of early spring

Woodchuck by Tate King

Woodchuck by Tate King

America’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, performed his ceremonial weather forecasting duty this morning & predicts six more weeks of winter. Closer to home, the Howell Nature Center shared a Facebook Live (below) of Michigan’s own prognosticating groundhog, Woody. Sadly, her forecast matched Phil’s so I guess winter will be with us for a while.

Tate got this shot of a woodchuck not hogging the ground at all back in March of 2007. You can see another on his Flickr.

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Groundhog Day 2017: Gifted & Talented Edition

woodchuck-groundhog-day

WOODCHUCK, photo by John Heinz, Jr.

This has to be the best Groundhog Day picture EVER!!I have no doubt in whatever prediction this little guy or gal makes! Forget about old-fashioned shadows – today’s groundhog makes use of sophisticated pine-bough analysis to come up with their forecast!!

Michigan’s official groundhog is Woody of the Howell Nature Center. She will strut her stuff tomorrow morning beginning at 7 AM – all the details on their Facebook event.

View John’s photo bigger and see more in his massive Michigan Animals slideshow (seriously – John is like Dr. Doolittle – check it out!)

Groundhog Warning!

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl, photo by Kevin Povenz

Any Michigan groundhogs out there probably better just stay inside and check to see what Woody the Woodchuck from the Howell Nature Center predicts. Word is already in from Punxsutawney Phil that we’re in for an early Spring!

You can learn all about Michigan groundhogs/woodchucks and Woody, Michigan’s official groundhog and snowy owls on Michigan in Pictures. One thing about snowy owls that you may not know is that due to their remote existence, they typically don’t have the same fear of humans that other owls exhibit.

Kevin took this gorgeous photo on Saturday near Sault Ste Marie and writes:

Yes I was laying down on my belly in the snow to get this shot. Not the sharpest of shots as there were weeds between me and this snowy and was hard to focus. Should of used manual focus, but I loved the moment. He just kept looking at me probably thinking “what the…?”

View his photo bigger and see more in his Birds of Prey slideshow.

Happy Groundhog Day, Michigan!

Michigan Groundhog
Young Groundhog, photo by John E Heintz Jr

Happy Groundhog Day everyone! We’re hoping that folks in the southern part of the state are digging out all right!

Michigan has native groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, whistle-pigs, or land-beavers. You can learn all about them from the University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web under Marmota monax (woodchuck) which says (in part):

Woodchucks have numerous common names, including ground hog, and whistle pig. The word “woodchuck” is a misinterpretation of their Native American name “wuchak”, which roughly translates as “the digger”. Groundhog Day occurs when Punxsutawney Phil, a captive woodchuck held in rural Pennsylvania, is awakened from hibernation in order to determine if he will see his shadow. According to the legend, if he sees his shadow there will be 6 additional weeks of winter. If he does not see his shadow, legend predicts an early spring.

The legend of Groundhog Day is likely due to the fact that woodchucks often re-enter hibernation after emerging from their dens prematurely.

We all know about Punxsutawney Phil, but have you heard of Michigan’s Official Groundhog? Her name is Woody, and she lives at the Howell Conference & Nature Center and unfortunately is battling a severe respiratory infection so her alternate Murray will stand in if she’s unable to perform her official duties at 8:15 today.

Woody correctly forecast six more weeks of winter weather on February 2, 2014, much to the chagrin of close to two hundred shivering attendees of that Sunday morning’s Groundhog Day festivities.

Last year’s prognostication, her sixteenth, was made crystal clear by her outright refusal to even leave her home. With temperatures at the Nature Center hovering in the low 20′s and several inches of snow on the ground, the clairvoyant chuck’s behavior was interpreted as just another sign of her wisdom.

Read on for more.

View John’s photo bigger and see lots more backyard wildlife in his ANIMAL PHOTOGRAPHY slideshow.

A Michigan groundhog for Groundhog Day

Standing Guard

Standing Guard, photo by James Marvin Phelps

Today (February 2nd) is Groundhog Day, the day halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The most famous groundhog in the world, Punxsutawney Phil, didn’t see his shadow this morning. Apparently, Michigan has its own official woodchuck weather forecaster, Woody. She lives at the Howell Nature Center and also didn’t  see her shadow. If you put your trust in celebrity rodents, that means we’re in for an early spring.

Michigan has native groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, whistle-pigs, or land-beavers. The University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web entry for Marmota monax (woodchuck) explains in part that:

Woodchucks are stocky in appearance and often stand up on their hind legs, making them look tall. Their pelage varies greatly in color but ranges from gray to cinnamon to dark brown. Their body is covered with white-tipped guard hairs giving them a grizzled appearance. Their paws vary in color from a typical black to dark brown in most subspecies. However, one subspecies has paws that appear pink. Their short bushy tail is often black to dark brown and is 20 to 25% their total body length. They weigh from 2 to 6 kg, range from 415 to 675 mm in total length, and have tails that range from 100 to 160 mm in length. Although males and females are the same color, males are larger than females. Woodchucks have white teeth, which is uncharacteristic of rodents, and a dental formula of 1/1, 0/0, 2/1, 3/3, for a total of 22 teeth. They have rounded ears that can cover the external auditory canal which prevents dirt from entering the ear canal while burrowing.

…Woodchucks are diurnal, solitary animals … Woodchucks are burrowing mammals and generally construct summer and winter dens. These dens generally have several entrances (including an escape hole) and many chambers and tunnels. Woodchucks usually feed twice daily during the summer, with each feeding session lasting no more than 2 hours. They are often found sunning themselves in the middle of the day during summer.

…Abandoned woodchuck dens are used by a number of different species, including rabbits, skunks, raccoons, opossums, foxes, weasels, ground squirrels, river otters, chipmunks, meadow voles, short-tailed shrews, house mice, pine voles, white-footed mice, lizards, snakes, and arthropods.

You can read more and see photos at ADW and also at Wikipedia.

James took this photo at the Lake Erie Metro Park in August of 2009. See it bigger and see more in his Michigan Groundhog slideshow.

More Michigan animals on Michigan in Pictures.