Raccoons: Masked Bandits of Oakland County

raccoon in tree branch

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

October brings falling leaves, ripening pumpkins, and roving raccoons. Raccoons are among the most widespread mammals of Michigan, and have adapted extremely well to life in Oakland County. These clever creatures can be found everywhere, from our farmlands and wildlands, to the city streets and suburbs of Rochester, Southfield, and Pontiac. Although raccoons are chiefly nocturnal, it’s not at all unusual to see one at dusk or in the dawn’s early light, as they prepare for winter’s approach by putting on pounds and searching for denning sites.

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Sights, Sounds, Scents and Signs of Spring’s Approach

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The confirmation of spring’s approach arrived on very long legs and boasted a bright red-capped head. It was just before sunrise when I spotted three statuesque Sandhill Cranes standing motionless on ice near a parking lot at Addison Oaks County Park. After a hilly, two-hour hike in a mostly snow-covered landscape, I returned to that melting patch of ice just in time to watch one of those red-crested, long-legged beauties of the wetlands stretching its wings in the morning sun. That sighting alone confirmed what the calendar already said: The final countdown to spring is well underway. Continue reading

Wildlife Tracking 101: Raccoons, Rabbits, River Otters and More!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Winter is the perfect time to search for wildlife tracks. No matter how bold or stealthy the wanderings of a wild creature might be, tracks in the snow expose identities – and sometimes create mysteries. Tracking in snow can be fantastically easy, as in the case of clear raccoon tracks near a bird feeder, or it can be deceptively tricky when tracks distort and expand during snow melt. A bare footprint of a human in snow turns into something that is Sasquatch size, and a house cat track might morph into a mountain lion. One thing is certain, winter wildlife tracks are fun to explore, and many park agencies have winter tracking programs. Check with your nature center or park agency for details! Continue reading