Turkey Tales and Tidbits from the Wilder Side

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

No one seems to think about turkeys very much until the turkey’s internal temperature soars to 180 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s surrounded by sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, cooked greens and a pumpkin pie. Invite me to your Thanksgiving table and I won’t ask about the wishbone; I will try to engage the gathering in a lively conversation of snoods, wattles, caruncles, dewlaps, spurs and beards. Continue reading

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

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Raccoon: The five toe imprints of raccoon paws make the track easily identifiable

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

Trail Safety On The Dawn Of Winter

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Winter hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing on the Wilder Side of Oakland County might best be described with just two words: Pure Pleasure. Tracks in fresh snow present an enticing storybook of wildlife activity. Cooper’s Hawks zip through woodlands. Turkeys share trails we trek, and the musical whispers of winter are enlivened by Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches. A fleeting view of a mink by a frozen marsh, an eastern coyote or red fox slipping silently through the woodlands falls into the realm of possibility for those that walk slowly, stop often, lean motionlessly against a tree and then just look and listen. Continue reading