Arctic Invaders Approaching Oakland County

Wilder Side of Oakland County 

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Two-foot-tall winged ghosts of the tundra are coming to town. Bird watchers, nature lovers, naturalists, and Oakland County Harry Potter fans are wishing for the rare opportunity to see the snowy owls of the Far North that have traveled thousands of miles south of their native Arctic home. These beautiful birds, adapted for life in the extreme cold, are the heaviest owl of North America and one of the largest owls on Planet Earth. Reports of snowy owls across the State of Michigan are rapidly trickling into the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and last week, acting on a tip from an avid birder friend in Lapeer, I set out for Tuscola County in the lower part of Michigan’s “thumb”  to search for snowy owls. In less than 90 minutes we located three – – two sleepy ones on rural roadside utility poles and one in a plowed farm field with prey in its talons. These are the owls that I photographed to feature in this special report. Continue reading

It’s Hot Outside – Don’t Leave Pets in the Car!

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As temperatures peak in the summer months, we are all at risk – including our pets. Did you know the temperature inside your vehicle can rise above 120 degrees in a matter of minutes? That’s even with the windows partially open. In just 15 minutes, your dog can suffer brain damage, heat stroke, suffocation or death.

Take a look at Oakland County Animal Shelter’s video to learn more.

If you see an animal locked inside a vehicle, we urge you to call your local police department or the Oakland County Animal Shelter immediately at 248-391-4100!

For more information, visit Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center’s website and follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.

Are You my Mother? Leave Wildlife in the Wild

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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This is the season of newborn fawns curled up in tall grasses, nests of cottontail rabbit babies hidden in freshly tilled soil and red fox kits and coyote pups sunning near their dens. Encounters with baby wildlife are soaring. Baby animals are cute and their vulnerability entices humans to pick them up and sometimes try to make them pets. Continue reading

Vernal Ponds = April Amphibian Action

Wilder Side of Oakland County

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As winter yields to spring, blue-spotted salamanders are roused into action. They emerge from their moist subterranean dwellings and embark on overland journeys to reach the same vernal ponds where their lives began. The vernal pond is a unique forest pond as it only holds water part of the year and is fish-free. The word vernal is derived from vernalis, Latin for spring. In another few weeks, these ephemeral ponds will teem with life, with some creatures so bizarre that they appear to be alien species.

SpringPeeper calling

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Secret World of Beaver Freezers: Life Under Ice


The Wilder Side of Oakland County


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Beavers are the largest, yet least seen, rodents found in Oakland County. Even though these creatures can weigh more than 50 pounds with their massive flat tails, it’s difficult to spot them because they are mostly nocturnal and semi-aquatic. They are without a doubt, the best dam builders in our county. During late autumn, beavers busy themselves preparing for winter by strengthening their dams, adding extra mud and sticks to their fortified lodges and most importantly, stocking their underwater pantries. Wildlife biologists like to call those winter food caches Beaver Freezers. Rarely does a human get to see these underwater food storage sites; for usually as the ice begins to freeze, it quickly turns opaque and snow blocks any view. Not this year. On the second day of January, I had the unusual opportunity to inch my way carefully out over crystal clear ice and capture images of the top of a beaver freezer in one of the 13 Oakland County Parks.

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