Eastern Bluebirds On the Dawn of Summer

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

With its brilliant royal blue back, and rusty-red brown breast there is no mistaking a male Eastern Bluebird. They are heralded as one of the first Oakland County birds of spring. Naturalists and writers have long associated the arrival of bluebirds with spring. On March 2, 1859, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The bluebird comes and with his warble drills the ice and sets free the rivers and ponds and frozen grounds.” It is now the 23rd day of June in 2017 and the heat of the summer has already arrived. Bluebirds keep warbling, not to melt ice, but to announce round two of their nesting season. The fact of the matter is clear, many of our bluebirds did not migrate and ate old berries and fruits all winter, with occasional visits to suet feeders.

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Tis The Season: Feeder Frenzy & Feeder Wars

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Deer, coyotes, red foxes, raccoons, skunks, rabbits, mice, opossums and Great Horned Owls. What do they all have in common? They are all “gastronomically grateful” for the existence of bird feeders. The same holds true for Cooper’s hawk, a fast flying accipiter that purses and eats other birds. Perhaps the most grateful creature of all purrs gently on your lap, but given half the chance, a house cat will wait in deadly ambush near a feeder. It’s all about adapting to opportunity, and bird feeders create opportunity, sometimes with unexpected consequences. The season of winter feeder wars and feeder frenzy has arrived. Continue reading

The Bog, the Swamp and the Dawn of Spring

The Wilder Side of Oakland County

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In these warming, waning days of winter, signs of spring’s approach are everywhere, but she leaves her most obvious door-knocking notices near our bogs and swamps. Henry David Thoreau wrote His soft warble melts in the ear, as the snow is melting in the valleys around. The bluebird comes and with his warble drills the ice and sets free the rivers and ponds and frozen grounds.” Those words are true today: the eastern bluebird flits above meadows of crusty snow and perches on branches and old fence posts at the edges of swamps on the wilder side of Oakland County. At this very moment, something seemingly odd and other worldly is happening in our swamps. It’s an event that always seems to occur just as the warble of bluebirds sweetens the day. Continue reading