Pileated Woodpeckers on a Whim

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpeckers are North America’s largest species of woodpecker. These beautiful forest birds have a wingspan of up to 30 inches and measure from 16 to 19 inches in length, with a size and shape that’s most noticeable when they cling to the trunk of a tree.

Their eye-catching triangular red crest that sweeps off the back of their heads is a perfect identification clue, even for a novice birder. As for the name “pileated,” it refers to the species’ red crest, and is derived from the Latin word pileatus which means “capped.”

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Jerusalem Artichokes: Not Just for Bees!

Bee and Jerusalem artichoke blossom

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Honey bees know a good thing when they see one. They found the ten-foot-tall object of my quest first — a cluster of brilliant, yellow, eye-catching flowers that bloomed during the first week of October. The bees were harvesting the bright orange pollen of Jerusalem artichokes for their near final foraging flights of the season. That was almost two weeks ago. I returned a few days ago for the tubers.

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The Hunt is On: Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods mushroom

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Autumn has arrived and signs of the new season are everywhere. Gusts of wind send black walnuts and acorns plummeting earthward. Goldenrod and asters entice honeybees to their final foraging missions. Tree leaves are transforming from summery shades of green to fiery crimsons, brilliant yellows, and warm almost-glowing golds. They are all great signs of summer’s end but I’m most excited about a certain fantastic fall fungi. Are you ready to hunt the Chicken of the Woods? I am.

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