Black-capped Chickadees: Forest Warriors or Suburban Feeder Flirts?

A Black-capped Chickadee perches on the author's hand.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Black-capped Chickadees are well adapted to life in the woodlands of Oakland County, and are equally comfortable living a suburban lifestyle. The secret of their success is adaptability and inquisitiveness, and during the cold months, a few tricks bestowed upon them through eons of evolution.

Chickadees may be found in any local habitat that has trees or woody shrubs, from our expansive State Recreation Area forests managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, to small brushy areas in our urban areas. During times of heavy snow, they often hunker down in sheltered swamps such as those at Lakeville Swamp Nature Sanctuary and Timberland Swamp Nature Sanctuary, two of my favorite Oakland County swamps managed by the Michigan Nature Association. When extreme cold grips the landscape, they may hunker down in abandoned woodpecker nesting cavities, knotholes on the leeward side of trees and occasionally excavate their own shelters in soft rotten wood. Continue reading

Trail Safety On The Dawn Of Winter

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Winter hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing on the Wilder Side of Oakland County might best be described with just two words: Pure Pleasure. Tracks in fresh snow present an enticing storybook of wildlife activity. Cooper’s Hawks zip through woodlands. Turkeys share trails we trek, and the musical whispers of winter are enlivened by Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches. A fleeting view of a mink by a frozen marsh, an eastern coyote or red fox slipping silently through the woodlands falls into the realm of possibility for those that walk slowly, stop often, lean motionlessly against a tree and then just look and listen. Continue reading