Frigid February Feeder Frenzy

A male Cardinal perched on a tree with frost-covered red berries and branches

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Woodlands fell silent as winter’s grasp tightened and temperatures plunged to single digits. However, blue sky mornings added beauty as birds hunted for frozen berries and feasted at feeders while our coldest weekend of the year approached. Birds actually manage quite well on their own without human handouts, but bird feeders offer never-ending sources of entertainment, enjoyment, and education. They become center stage for kaleidoscopes of brilliant colors, insight into the ways of nature, and sometimes fast-moving drama.

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Bridging the Trails Gap: Van Tassel Pedestrian Bridge

Steel bridge over wide creek in winter

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Michigan is the #1 Trail State in the nation with 2,623 miles of rail-trail conversions and thousands of miles of other linear multi-use pathways. The word “rail-trail” is coming into more common usage and is defined by the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy this way:

“Rail-trails are multipurpose public paths created from former railroad corridors. These paths are flat or gently sloping, making them easily accessible and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Rail-trails are ideal for many types of activities–depending on the rules established by the local community–including walking, bicycling, wheelchair use, inline skating, cross-country skiing and horseback riding.”

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Nature’s Way Almanac 2021

4x3 tiles in a collage of nature scenes

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“January observations can be almost as simple and peaceful as snow, and almost as continuous as cold. There is time not only to see who had done what, but to speculate why.” A Sand County Almanac (Leopold, 1949)

We are two weeks into the new year, and with increased hours of daylight, we have more time to both observe and to speculate about the “whys” of nature’s way. For some of the answers, naturalists look to phenology: the study of how the life cycles of all animals and plants change in response to seasons and varying conditions such as temperature, length of daylight, soil moisture, and climate change. Here’s a look ahead to a new year of nature’s way in the world of phenology.

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Beavers: Oakland County’s Best Dam Builders!

beaver habitat sign

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The days are short, and darkness comes all too soon. The dawn of winter draws near. We may feel sleepy at times, but there is no long winter nap awaiting the beaver (Castor canadensis,) the largest rodent of North America. Contrary to the belief of some, beavers do not hibernate. Beavers are true architects of the wildlife world. Although these highly-skilled engineers are almost never seen in winter, the evidence of their activity is everywhere, from the most rural sections of our county to the wooded banks of the Clinton River in the city of Pontiac.

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