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

Scent of Love Spices the Air: Romancing the Skunk

The Wilder Side of Oakland County

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A skunk captured under a deck in a live trap presents a removal challenge for the homeowner.

Courtship is well underway for Mephitis mephitis, the often maligned striped skunk, and that means the scent of love is in the night air. Romance for the skunk is a simple affair: wander about under the cover of darkness and search for a suitable mate. Yet, during these nocturnal searches, as winter slowly wanes, skunks may encounter other critters of the night: raccoons, coyotes, fox, cats and dogs. If these creatures do not give the hormonal-driven skunk, with a mission of mating on its mind, a wide berth, the skunk will swing into defensive mode. First comes a warning: the front paws pound up and down. Perhaps that message serves to say, “Do you remember me from last time?”

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