Fawn Finding Forest Fast

Fawn Finding Forest Fast, photo by jdehmel

We’ve all heard of f-stops, but look at this fawn f-GO!! Here are a couple of fun fawn facts from Outdoor Life:

  • Fawns average 6-8 lbs. at birth
  • Fawns are capable of walking within a few hours
  • Does usually remain within 100 yards of their fawns
  • A 3-week-old fawn can outrun most danger
  • The average number of spots on a fawn is 300

View Jeff’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

More Michigan fauna and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Foxy Friday

Fox Crossing

Fox Crossing, photo by Mark Miller

What an incredible catch by Mark!

View his photo bigger and see more of this little lady in his slideshow.

PS: More about red fox in Michigan from Michigan in Pictures.

Fledge Season & Great Horned Owlets

Great Horned Owlets

Great Horned Owlets, photo by Kevin Povenz

April is the season for owls to fledge, or learn to fly. The Raptor Education Group from over in Wisconsin has a page about owlets that includes what to do if you come across one of these cute balls of fluff on the ground:

Great-horned Owls do not build their own nest. Instead, they choose an old nest of a crow, hawk, or even a squirrel to call their own.

When the young owls are 6-8 weeks old, they begin to venture from their nest. This is before they can actually fly. Nature’s method provides owlets opportunities to develop their leg muscles that will very soon be catching their own prey. In a natural setting owlets that appear to have fallen from their nest actually have fledged. In a natural wooded area, bushes and smaller trees provide a ladder of sorts and allow the chicks to climb to a higher perch until they can fly. When owls nest in a city with concrete below them rather than a soft forest floor, problems arise. That is also the case with a well-manicured park or lawn setting that has nothing that can function as a ladder for the tykes.

…If you find a young owl, leave it where it is, unless it is in imminent danger. Give us a call and let us help you decide if the adults are in attendance and the chick is just fledging naturally or if there is something wrong with the little one. Remember, owls are nocturnal for the most part and are not easy to see during daylight hours. Mom and dad could be very close and yet be so well camouflaged they are hard to see.

Michigan in Pictures has a feature on Great Horned Owls with a lot more about these birds!

View this on black, check out more from Kevin on Michigan in Pictures and definitely have a look at his great Birds of Prey slideshow.

Frog Sex: It’s Complicated

Frog Sex Its Complicated

BACKYARD NATURE, photo by John E Heintz Jr

April is the time when we start to hear some of Michigan’s 13 species of frogs and toads making noise. While the green frogs pictured above were confusing their Frogbook friends in July, most of the distinctive spring frog calls are males advertising that they’re looking for love. The Michigan frog & toad page from the DNR explains:

As temperatures rise in early spring, frogs begin to move to their breeding sites. The actual timing depends on the warmth of the air and water, and the humidity, but there is noticeable order in which the various Michigan species become active and begin voicing their breeding calls. For example, in southern Michigan the raspy voice of the Western Chorus Frog is usually heard first, often in late March, followed quickly by the highpitched peeps of the Spring Peeper. In a few days the woodland swamps are filled with the quack like calls of the male Wood Frogs, while in another week in open marshes the low snores of the Leopard Frog are barely heard over the squeaky songs of newly arrived Red Winged Blackbirds.

The first warm rains of April bring American Toads out of the woods to the breeding ponds, where the air is soon filled with their melodious trills. Several of our frogs postpone their breeding activities until later in spring, when air and water temperatures are higher. Included in this late group are the Gray Tree Frog, Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, and Green and Bull Frogs.

Frogs are far more often heard than seen. Most frog sounds are the advertisement calls of the males, intended to attract the females for breeding. Frog voices may carry for long distances, especially the higher pitched calls of the smaller species. The males increase the loudness of their calls by ballooning out their throats or special sacs at the sides of their throats, creating a kind of resonating chamber. Only males produce advertisement calls, but both sexes may give shorter warning calls or screams when danger threatens. Males can also produce distinct calls that warn away rival males that approach their calling or breeding sites.

Female frogs and toads may lay hundreds or even thousands of eggs. These are usually attached to underwater vegetation or left floating in large masses at the surface. During egg laying, the male clings to the female’s back and fertilizes the eggs. The small, dark eggs are protected by layers of a jelly like substance. They may be in rounded masses (as in Wood and Leopard Frogs), loose clusters (Gray Tree Frogs), long necklace like strings (Toads), thin surface films (Bull and Green Frogs), or deposited singly or in small clusters (Spring Peeper). Many frog eggs are eaten by predators such as fish, turtles, and aquatic insects, or are lost to drying or destruction by micro organisms.

Read on for more and also read more about the frog life cycle from All About Frogs.

Check this out on black and see more in John’s BACKYARD NATURE slideshow.

More frogs & toads and more of our “Best Friends in Nature” series on Michigan in Pictures!

Black Bear in Michigan


Bear, photo by Majestic View Photography

Here’s a few of the many Michigan Black Bear Facts available from the DNR:

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. During the past twenty-five years, the status of the Michigan black bear has been elevated from pest to prized game species. Today, Michigan’s only bear species is protected by law and managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

What are the physical characteristics of the black bear?

Most black bear in Michigan have dark black fur. Brown color variations are more common in western states. The size of a bear depends on its age, sex, diet, and season of the year. Adult female bear are generally smaller than adult males. In Michigan, female bear range from 100-250 pounds, while adult males weigh between 150-400 pounds. Adult black bear measure about three feet high when on all four feet and about five feet when standing upright. A bear is considered an “adult” when it is capable of reproducing, which generally occurs at three to four years of age in Michigan. In the wild, bear can live 20 to 30 years.

What is the home range of a black bear?

A bear’s home range is the area that provides sufficient food and cover for the animal to survive. Black bear are solitary animals, but family groups such as a sow and her cubs may be observed. Male black bear live in an area about 100 square miles in size, while females live in smaller areas of 10-20 square miles. Home range size is affected by food availability, the number of other bear in an area, and human development. As more people move to northern Michigan, the amount of undeveloped bear habitat declines.

What is the diet of the black bear?

In one word – everything. Black bear are considered opportunistic feeders, taking advantage of many seasonally available foods. Bear eat succulent, new green vegetation in the spring after they leave their dens. Colonial insects, such as ants and bees, may make up over half of their diet in late spring and early summer. Black bear experience rapid weight gain in years when wild berries, which are high in sugars and other carbohydrates, are available beginning in mid summer. Nuts and acorns, because they are high in fats and protein, are the best fall foods for bear when preparing for their winter’s sleep. If given the chance, black bear will supplement their natural diet with human garbage, pet foods, birdseed, or any foods placed to feed or attract other wildlife.

Read on for more, see the State of Michigan’s Black Bear section and also check Ursus americanus American black bear from the UM Animal Diversity Web for comprehensive information & photos.

View Dan’s photo out on black  and see more in his Animals slideshow.

More animals on Michigan in Pictures.

Winter Study: Observing Wolves & Moose on Isle Royale

Isabelle being chased by her assailant

Isabelle being chased by her assailant, photo by isleroyalewolf.org

A couple of weeks ago a reader sent me a link isleroyalewolf.org. The website documents the interactions of the island’s wolf & moose population as their decades long dance unfolds on this remote, wilderness island. Their overview explains:

Isle Royale has offered many discoveries… how wolves affect populations of their prey, how population health is affected by inbreeding and genetics, what moose teeth can tell us about long-term trends in air pollution, how ravens give wolves a reason to live in packs, why wolves don’t always eat all the food that they kill, and more. The wolves and moose of Isle Royale also frequently reveal intimate details of their daily life experiences and they have inspired numerous artistic expressions. If we pay attention, they all tell us something important about our relationship with nature. These insights and discoveries are all presented here for you.

Building on the graph above and to develop a deeper understanding, here is more on the history of wolves and moose on Isle Royale. Moose first came to Isle Royale in the early 20th century, and for fifty years, their numbers fluctuated with weather conditions and food abundance. Wolves first arrived in the late 1940s by crossing an ice bridge from Canada. The lives of Isle Royale moose would never be the same.

Every winter since 1958, a team of researchers has spent numerous weeks at Isle Royale observing the lives of these wolves and moose and reporting back. Now they offer a website with photos and detailed reports, a fascinating tale that I encourage you to follow. Today’s photo is from the edition I began with – It’s Complicated. A snapshot:

Isabelle’s signal was surprisingly close. By the time we saw her, she was running for her life, north along the beach of Rainbow Cove. She was being chased by Pip’s two companions. Pip was nowhere in sight. While those two wolves have been eating regularly, Isabelle may not have had a decent meal in weeks, perhaps longer. Isabelle’s half-mile lead was reduced to nothing in just a few minutes.

Definitely read on for photos and a gripping account of these wolves battling and follow the whole 2013 Winter Study as it unfolds (sign up for their email).

More wolves on Michigan in Pictures.

Pairs Skating, Swan Edition


pairskating, photo by mozy54

Lynn writes that she didn’t see this pair in the national ice skating finals. Check it out on black and see a couple more shots of these swans in her slideshow.

More birds on Michigan in Pictures!

The Michigan Moose Lift

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Michigan Moose Reflections

Moose Reflections, photo by yooper1949

NOTE: I’ve edited this post because the State of Michigan removed it from the internet. Thank you archive.org for saving it via The Wayback Machine so I could share it in its entirely!

Remembering Michigan’s Historic Moose Lift from the Michigan DNR says:

On Jan. 20, 1985, separate convoys carrying men and equipment set out from Michigan on a mission to reach the 3,000-square-mile Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

Over the next two weeks, this team of wildlife biologists and veterinarians from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, working with a team of Canadian specialists from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, would locate, capture, transport and release a number of wild moose to form the nucleus of a new population in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

It was an unprecedented, historic operation. The wind chill at times approached 100 degrees below zero. Utilizing helicopters, tranquilizing dart guns and slings, some moose were air-lifted as far as 14 miles from the capture area to base camp.

At base camp, each animal was subjected to thorough medical testing and was fitted with a sophisticated radio collar, before being lifted into a shipping crate and placed onto a transport truck for the non-stop 600-mile overnight journey back to Michigan.

The remarkable effort was called “moose lift.” A total of 29 moose (10 bulls, 19 cows), ranging in size from 750 to 1,250 pounds, survived the arduous journey.

Crowds assembled each day at the release site north of Lake Michigamme in Marquette County. Despite temperatures well below zero, a welcoming committee of U.P. residents always showed up to greet the new “American” citizens.

As we mark the 20th anniversary of the first moose lift, the most common question that arises is, “How are the moose doing now?”.

“The department’s goal was to produce a self-sustaining population of free-ranging moose, and we have that,” said Dean Beyer, wildlife research biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Since the first moose lift in 1985, and a similar effort two years later when another 30 moose were released in the same area, the DNR has closely monitored the reintroduced moose population.

“At first, the size and growth of the herd was determined through a simple process–similar to balancing a checkbook,” Beyer said. “Because all moose were radio-collared, biologists could monitor each animal and tell when it died, and they could follow cows to record any births. The population could be tracked simply by adding the number of calves born and subtracting the number of animals that died.”

As the population grew, the new animals in the herd did not have radio collars.

“Over time, maintaining an adequate sample of radio-collared animals for the population would not be feasible,” Beyer said.

So in 1996 and 1997, the DNR conducted aerial surveys, which are the most common method of estimating moose numbers. Unfortunately, the population estimates from the aerial surveys were lower than estimates from the population model.

“At that point we knew we needed to conduct a more intensive study of the reintroduced population,” Beyer said. “And we also wanted to determine a more accurate picture of what’s reasonable growth for this population.”

With the help of the Michigan Involvement Committee of Safari Club International, which also provided the single largest financial contribution to the first moose lift, the DNR began a more intensive study of the reintroduced population in 1999, in cooperation with Michigan State University.

“Our research team is developing a technique to estimate the size of the population by estimating the probability of seeing moose from an airplane given the group size; behavior, whether the animal is standing or bedded; and the amount of canopy cover,” Beyer said.

When the moose were reintroduced into the western Upper Peninsula, biologists hoped the population would grow to 1,000 animals by the year 2000. Although that objective was not reached, results of the current study indicate the population is growing, on average, between five and ten percent each year. The research also has shown that poaching, moose/car accidents, brainworm and wolves are not major factors influencing the moose population at this time.

According to Beyer, the herd ranges over approximately 1,800 square miles in Marquette, Baraga and Iron counties. Moose also are found in several parts of the eastern U.P., most notably around the Tahquamenon River.

“Moose in this region have not been studied in detail,” he said.

Although records from the early explorers show that moose were common throughout Michigan, by the late 1800s moose numbers were very low. Moose soon disappeared from the Lower Peninsula and only a small number survived in the U.P., perhaps supplemented by animals coming in from Minnesota and Canada.

Thanks to the vision and hard work of many DNR biologists a generation ago, moose are once again establishing themselves as a premiere Michigan mammal.

Several U.P. communities, in fact, now vie over the self-proclaimed title, “Moose Capital of Michigan.” Mascots, motels, restaurants, candy and even ice cream are named after the mighty moose. Its image is common on billboards, television, artwork and printed materials. But most importantly, moose are alive and well, and rambling about in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula once more.

Here’s a great video about the Moose Lift – highly recommended!

The last DNR moose survey pegs the UP’s moose population at about 500 with another 750 on Isle Royale.

Carl took this shot on Isle Royale in September. Check it out big as a moose and see much more (including some more moose shots) from one of Michigan’s coolest parks in his Isle Royale slideshow.

More moose on Michigan in Pictures!

Bald Eagle in Michigan

Eagle turning

Eagle turning, photo by Deirdre Honner

I think this is one of the best bald eagle photos I’ve ever seen. The Michigan DNR’s bald eagle page explains that before European settlement, bald eagles probably nested in all regions of Michigan.

In the early 1900s they were described as being “generally distributed,” but “nowhere abundant.” A decline through the early and mid-1900s was probably related to slow but consistent loss of suitable habitat and available food, and predator control by humans. These eagles are so disturbed by the presence of humans near their nest that they may be induced to abandon the nest, or even chicks that have already hatched. By 1959, the species was considered, “largely restricted to the northern half of the state.”

…Nests are usually constructed near seacoasts, lakes or large rivers to be near their most common food supply: fish. Although they are quite capable of catching their own, sometimes even wading in shallow water to stalk fish like herons, they have often been seen stealing fish from other birds such as osprey. When fish are not available, such as in winter, eagles will also feed on waterfowl, small mammals (up to rabbit-size) and carrion (even road-kill).

During Michigan winters, bald eagles are seen throughout the state (almost all counties), while they nest mainly in the Upper Peninsula (especially the western portion) and the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula. These eagles don’t really migrate, they just move south enough to stay ahead of the ice and congregate near open water. Immature birds may move further south.

Lots more about bald eagles at All About Birds and you can also view recent Michigan bald eagle sightings.

Check this out background big and see more including a shot of the eagle in flight  in Deirdre’s slideshow.

More Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Hiking Isle Royale: Trails, Wolves and Minong Mine

Minong Mine

Minong Mine, photo by nasunto.

Nina went to Isle Royale in September and has been posting accounts on her awesome blog Black Coffee at Sunrise. This photo of Minong Mine appears in Day Five, which features a detailed description of their encounter with a pack of wolves:

Since the vegetation along the narrow trail was dripping with dew and leaning inward, it wasn’t long before we were both soaking wet from hip to ankle. Ten minutes after leaving our campsite, the ground became marshy and we found ourselves walking a long stretch of protective plank bridge. Just before reaching the stream crossing, the trail curved to the right and Craig suddenly stopped in front of me, turned around and said very calmly, “Uh…a whole pack of wolves…”

His voice trailed off as he turned back around to face forward again. I thought he was trying to be funny since I couldn’t yet see what was around the corner. After inching forward another foot or so, he turned to me again and the look on his face was priceless. “I’m not kidding,” he said. “There are at least five wolves on the trail ahead of us.” The next few moments were the most surreal and exciting I’ve ever experienced.

Read on at her blog for the rest of the account or see them all in her Isle Royale section.

Be sure to check this out bigger or in her Isle Royale set (slideshow).

You can learn a little bit about Minong Mine and see a picture of a 6000 pound copper nugget right here.

Check out many more Isle Royale photos on Michigan in Pictures.