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BIRDIES are Here……in DROVES!!!!!!

November 15, 2013

FinchThis has been a very interesting experience for me. After many, many years of leading Hikes and IDing birds, Volunteering for Bird Habitat re-newels, and generally enjoying spotting and watching for Birds out in the Field, I finally decided to start up Bird Feeders and Bird Habitats in my own yard.

One of the Feeding Trees

One of the Feeding Trees

When I first started a couple of months ago, I had absolutely NO results. Not a single bird showed up to sample any of the delectable treats I was leaving for them. I checked with local neighbors, who have been feeding the Birds for years in my area, and they told me that this was the slowest year for Birds coming to their Feeders, that they had ever experienced.

So I made a Post to all you HM people about this problem and concern I was having with the total lack of response to my Feeders and Bird habitat I was creating in my yard.

I received so many responses from you HM Hikers, it took me almost a week to sort through all the great advice.But it was sure worth it, and I now Thank all of you for your wonderful suggestions and directions in what to do.

I now have one of the most extensive Bird Sanctuaries in S.E.Michigan. 🙂 🙂 I have now erected over 8 different types of Feeders, from open Tray style, to Nut-filled tubes. I have Suet blocks and special Saffron seed feeders. I also have installed a Water-Bath at ground level, which has turned out to be extremely popular with ALL visitors.

m6cOhcq-L2VJh5P9bW_CciwBesides following the advice from all of you experienced and helpful HM members, I came across a Wonderful book thatSiskin has been, and will continue to be my “GO TOO” book on Bird Feeders and Backyard Bird habitats. It’s called the “Backyard Bird Feeders BIBLE”, by Sally Hayes. What an unbelievable Book. It covers everything from store-bought food, to creating your own mixes. I have followed much of the advice in this Book, and have come to find that the best advice I received from you HM people, where the advice most given in this Bird Bible.

All this Food, Water and other Goodies has also attracted other critters. 5 very old, fat Fox Squirrels, and one very small youngster. A unique Red Squirrel (what a treat), and 3 Chipmunks. I enjoy the Chipmunks, Red squirrel and small Fox Squirrels. But those large adult Fox squirrels are just plain Bullies and gluttons. By using some Pepper sprayed on the trees and ground, and chasing some of these squirrels with my Witches broom, :-), I have managed to keep the peace amongst all the critters so far.

All but one. A night visitor, who just wants to pull down feeders and destroy whatever he can get his hands on. A very large Possum. Still working on

No Trouble....Baby Squirrel

No Trouble….Baby Squirrel

a fix to deal with this guy. I do not wish to harm him, but he better behave or he will leave me with no alternative. Suggestions?

So……with weeks worth of patience, all the great advice from all you helpful HM Bird people, and an example of just about every food known to Bird-dom, the Birds are arriving in droves on a daily basis. The proper habitat, Trees and Bushes, not to mention plenty of cover, has attracted almost every species in the area. Now the neighbors are wandering by and wondering why they see flocks of Birds circling the property. 🙂 Finches of all colors, Sparrows of every type, Jays, Cardinals, various Woodpeckers, Juncos, Red-breasted and white breasted Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, and even Pine Siskins. This is just the tip of the Bird list so far. New species discover the Sanctuary almost every day.

I am installing a couple of audio/video cameras to listen and watch the activity. Mostly to listen to all the sounds. And believe me there are many sounds. Next Spring I will be constructing a small Pond and waterfall, complete with Frogs, Turtles and even better habitat for even more Bird species.

Once again, I would like to say Thank You for all the suggestions and advice you HM Birders gave me in helping to put together the start of what will be an ever-growing Bird Feeding Sanctuary, here in Rochester.

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What Happened to the BIRDS????

November 3, 2013

A few weeks ago a made a Post requesting advice from all the HM members, on how to best attract Birds on my property. I received so many wonderful suggestions and ideas. So I went out to my nearest “BIRDS UNLIMITED” store and purchased all types of Bird feed and Feeders, and placed them all around my yard.

I have Suet blocks, Nut Feeders, general seed Feeders, you name it. I will make a separate Post on all the suggestions I received and all the research I did afterwards, in search of quality Bird Feed and Feeders. For now, I wanted to focus on something odd that has happened.

Well……I set up all these various Feeders around the Yard. The property has White Pine Trees and Apple Trees and many other species of Trees and shrubs. An all-round habitat for almost any kind of Bird. YET…….after more then two weeks, I have almost no visitors. No Birds at all.

I started to talking with neighbors and friends in the Rochester area, and they too have noticed that there has been very few Birds visiting their Feeders as well. Puzzling indeed? Many locals have told me they have not had a single Bird of any type, come and Feed. I realize we are just past the Migration time for Birds heading to their Winter grounds, or even shifting to their Winter food sources, but…….No Birds at all? Very odd?

I went and visited some of the local Parks and finally found some Birds. But very few and only in very selected areas. High food and water source areas. But these backyard Feeders,complete with Bird Baths and Water Feeders too, are attracting almost no Birds. And this seems to be something that just started happening this year, from August onward. So what is happening here?

Is this taking place all over the state? Up North as well? Please let me know and give some feed-back on what might be happening with our Birds. Like I mentioned. This is not held to any one species. It is across the board. All Birds seem to be hiding or have gone somewhere. What Happened Here??????

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Never to Young

October 14, 2013

I was reading a short Facebook post from a friend and it contained a picture of a youngster with a HUGE smile on her face. The post went on to say that now, her niece can ID a Mallard duck and Turkey. Probably something she will never forget.

All I could think of after reading this post was the many times my parents took me out to the forest and Parks, and the trips I made with the Scouts, as a youngster. These things I still remember to this very day. They have also influenced my entire life in so many different ways.

It is never to early to take the young ones out to the Parks. I can remember an early HIKE with Hiking Michigan, in which a couple brought their 1 year old. The Dad carried the youngster in a harness back carrier. I was walking behind him, and watched as the young one just stared at everything we passed and just “Cooooed” at the Birds, Trees and Flowers. You could feel the joy just coming from this child.

I am sure she remembers these Hikes her parents took her on, one way or another. Or at least she remembers the feelings she experienced in the calming and beautiful forests she was being exposed too. Because her parents took the time and made the effort to take her there. They’re Never to Young. 🙂

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FALL COLORS

October 8, 2013

FallLeavesIt is starting to be that time of year again. When the Trees & Bushes loose their greens and change to a colorful array of reds, yellows, oranges and pinks. There are specific reasons this takes place each year. The weather of course, is the trigger. But the scientific reasons are much deeper then the mear temperature changes at this time of year. Check out our sheet on, “WHY LEAVES CHANGE COLOR”.

What also makes this Info sheet interesting, is that with the knowledge on just why the leaves change, and what Trees & Bushes produce what colors, you can almost select the Fall colors you wish to observe. If you know where there are old Oak trees, you have a good chance of seeing some brilliant red and orange colors in the leaves. Create your own Fall Colors Tour. 🙂

WhyLeavesChange

We are very lucky here in Michigan, with some of the very best Fall colors anywhere. A few of my personal favorites in Southeastern Michigan are listed in our Info sheet called……“FALL COLOR TOURS”. The sheet describes some of the best places for Fall Colors in S.E.Michigan.

By understanding some of the reasons why the leaves change color, and what trees produce what specific colors, you can go to places in the area that will please your Fall Colors experience.

ColorsTour1

For instance……..Highland Recreation area (HAVEN HILL and the NATURAL AREA) have examples of almost every tree that grows in our state. This means you will see almost every Fall color imaginable there. Seven Lakes State Park is another example of a place that has so many different tree species, that you can see almost any co,or you desire there.

In Macomb county, Metro Park, Wolcott Mill, has many old Oak and Maple trees, since the area was settled so long ago. The deep reds and yellows there, are magnificent in these older trees. In the Park and on the old Farm roads that surround the Park, you will enjoy some outstanding colors.

There are of course, many beautiful places through out Michigan to view Fall Colors. Our Info sheet on the “FALL COLORS TOUR”, will help you get started in Southeastern Michigan, with some of the very best.

Here are a few Southeastern Michigan Park Maps to help you roam a bit deeper into the Fall Colors. The maps are free and all are recently GPSed and updated.

HIGHLAND Recreation Area (Haven Hill/Natural Area)

SEVEN Lakes State Park (Near the city of Holly)

WOLCOTT Mill Metro Park & Farm Center (Macomb county)

PONTIAC Lake Recreation Area (off of M59/Highland road, near Highland Rec.)

ORTONVILLE Recreation Area (NE of the city of Ortonville)

If you are looking for more Park maps, stop in at the Hiking Michigan web site, and visit the PARKS MAP Page.

 

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The Simple Things

September 10, 2013

I have been reading the postings of a Nature friend, Kim Clair Smith, who writes a Blog called, NATURE IS MY THERAPY. She has been talking about the simple things in Nature. Those things that in many cases, just pass us by. The Frog in a pond. Parenting birds, taking care of their youngsters. All the things going on around us almost every day, if we only look for them.

With this in mind, I sat in my backyard and observed a very intricate Spiders web in a nearby tree. I examined it in great detail. It was beautiful! The detail and intricacies were wonderful. I kinda became mesmerized by this web, and just sat there for quite some time, just staring at it.

Dew-Covered-Spiderweb

All of a sudden, a small Fly hit the web and became entangled in it. Out of a hidden corner of the web, darted a Spider, at lightening speed. It grabbed the Fly, wrapped it up and quickly carried it off into his hidden corner of the web.

The whole thing took only about 2 minutes, but it was amazing. Then it all returned to what it was, once again. A beautiful web perched in a tree, just waiting. Just sitting there in all it’s detail and beauty.

I realized that most of the many Nature experiences I have witnessed in my life, have been simple ones. Yes, I have stood on the edge of Canyons, rafted whitewater and Hiked thousands of miles over the years. But the most wonderful and beautiful experiences have been those which have been the simplest of Mother Natures gifts. It has been the patience and time taken to wait, just watch and listen, and then be rewarded with something wonderful. To be a part of what takes place behind our backs, most of the time.

Take the time to see, watch and listen outdoors. It can be in your own backyard. It is just a matter of taking that time and having the patience to observe and wait.

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New Michigan RAPTORS ID sheets

August 4, 2013

BirdSilloettesMost of the time, when we spot a Raptor in Michigan, it ends up being a silhouette of the bird flying overhead or soaring. Sometimes we get lucky and get a close enough view of the bird, to observe colors and distinct markings. So we put together an updated silhouette ID sheet for Michigan Raptors.

It is a great way to start to become familiar with what Raptors are in the area, allowing us to get closer and actually see the details of these magnificent birds. Michigan has seen an big increase in Raptors these last few years. At Stony Creek Metro Park HIKING Trails, there was an Eagles nest and a Osprey nest withing a 1/2 mile of one another.

Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food primarily on the wing, using their keen senses, especially vision. They are defined as any bird that kills its prey with its talons. Their talons and beaks tend to be relatively large, powerful and adapted for tearing and/or piercing flesh. In most cases, the females are considerably larger than the males. The term “raptor” is derived from the Latin word “rapere” (meaning to seize or take by force) and may refer informally to all birds of prey, or specifically to the diurnal group.

The diurnal birds of prey are formally classified into five families:

  • Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures
  • Pandionidae: the Osprey (sometimes classified as subfamily Pandioninae of the previous family)
  • Sagittariidae: the Secretary Bird
  • Falconidae: falcons and caracaras
  • Cathartidae: New world vultures including condors.

The nocturnal birds of prey – the owls – are classified separately as members of two extant families of the order Strigiformes:

  • Strigidae: (typical owls)
  • Tytonidae: (barn and bay owls).

Types of Birds of Prey

* Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests.
* Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish, and builds large stick nests.
* Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.
* The true Hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.
* Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as “hawks” in North America).
* Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.
* Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families, each occurring in only the Eastern Hemisphere (Accipitridae) or the Western (Cathartidae). Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.
* Falcons are small to medium-size birds of prey with long pointed wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae, rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Instead of building their own nests, falcons appropriate old nests of other birds, but sometimes they lay their eggs on cliff ledges or in tree hollows. Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.
* Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly with extremely little audible turbulence due to special feather structure and have particularly acute hearing.

Download our recently updated Michigan Raptors silhouette sheets here:

MICHIGAN RAPTORS

Michigan-RAPTORS-ID1Michigan-RAPTORS-ID2

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New & Updated ID sheets Coming

July 25, 2013

Starting this weekend Hiking Michigan will be releasing both updated Nature ID sheets and brand new INFO sheets for everyone. We will be starting with a very updated and detailed MI. RAPTORS ID sheets. New Raptors listed and much more info to ID these Birds in the wild and just soaring overhead.

Our next updated ID sheets will be our favorite, the ANIMAL Tracks ID sheets. We have added and third ID sheet to this PDF file, as well as more Tracks, including some common Bird tracks we see along many creek shorelines.

The next sheet will be one we have been working on since Springtime. Our MI. Spring Wild Flowers ID sheets. These have completely revamped and detailed, with the help of our goof friend Kim and her excellent Spring Flower pictures.

These are  just a few of what will be posted and available to be downloaded starting this weekend from the Blog, Facebook Page and Web site. We hope you enjoy the new sheets and find them helpful while enjoying the Outdoors.

Visit our web site DOWNLOADS Page and get many PDF files for Free. Many useful ID and Outdoor INFO sheets there for your knowledge and enjoyment.  HM DOWNLOADS PAGE

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Observe Closely & Ask Yourself a Question

July 18, 2013

What is more important to you? A healthy Environment, or a new Water Slide at one of OUR State Parks? Diverse Habitats through out OUR State Parks, or still even more Interconnected, Linear BIKE Pathways? (now being called Trails) A wide range of various Natural Resources interacting with one another to keep all of OUR State Parks, healthy and working naturally the way it should work on it’s own? Or OUR money being spent on resurfacing Tennis courts in small, obscure Towns along the new BIKE Pathway system?

MichNo matter how you may feel about these things, there is only one answer for all of it. The focus needs to return to having a Healthy Natural Resources base, through out OUR State. WHY? Because everything else will fail without this base foundation of a healthy ecosystem, everywhere in OUR State Parks.

You cannot build another Linear BIKE Pathway, if the environment it passes through is a Monoculture (plants & Trees that are primarily Invasive species, and almost NO natural interacting plants & Trees) A new Water Slide installed into a Lake that is full of more Invasive Species, with the only fish being those that are dumped into that Lake annually by OUR Department of Natural Resources. That is just about as Plastic and surreal as it gets.

Really now……ask yourself those questions. It all boils down to a solid and healthy foundation. Just like almost everything else in the world. Just like a Structure of any sort. You MUST have a solid foundation to build on, or else at some point in time it will all come crumbling down.

MI.Born2Do we have our Invasive Species under control in our beautiful Michigan? Do we have the various diseases and ill health problems that plague our Trees, Waterways and diverse Habitats, under control? Or are we just cutting sick Trees down, selling the Timber and calling the problems fixed? That is how OUR DNR now deals with Tree problems and Tree deseases. Pitiful Natural resources management. One of the biggest CONS being perpetrated on us Michiganders is the Volunteer Game.  Organizing Michigan’s best Volunteers to remove Invasive Species, without telling any of them that what they are accomplishing is next to NOTHING. because the Invasive Species problem is so enormous, that just having Volunteers doing the work and not having an entire department at OUR DNR dedicated to constant Invasive Species removal and control, has very little effect on the problem as a whole. Yet most of the work is being performed for Free, by the wonderful Volunteers….Michigan residents, and not OUR DNR.

These are not MY personal opinions. Nor are they exactly what I would like to see done. But they are what MUST BE DONE, and NOW…..in a very BIG WAY. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter what you or I may want. It is up to what is NEEDED. OUR Michigan Environments NEED our dedicated HELP, RIGHT NOW. Noy just the ghreat Volunteers that maontain most of thye Foot Trails, or the Volunteers and Scoputs who remove the majority of Invasive Species, all while OUR DNR is off trying to control our Recreational Experiences. Like we are all stupid and cannot figure it out on our own. All this money going at Pathways, Recreational control, financing Non profit groups, all need to come to a dead stop, before we have nothing left to enjoy. I am not exaggerating at all here. It is that bad and needs immediate help and to be changed, right away. Tell this to Ron Olson the head of the Recreation Division at the DNR. Or Jim Radabaugh, the head of all Trails in our state. These two are most responsible for what is taking place..Get rid o0f them, and the blood sucking Non Profit groups, feeding off of the DNR and our money, will fail and go away, because they cannot survive without the help from Parks & Recreation at OUR DNR.

Isn’t the bottom line, a beautiful and healthy environment we all want? If You HIKE…..doNL-Sanctuary-Trail you not want to see Critters and flourishing habitats? If You BIKE…….do you not want to see healthy environments and flourishing habitats? If you Hunt, Bird, geocache, etc…..do you not want to have a healthy eco system and habitats to travel through and enjoy?

If we need such control of our personal Outdoor Recreational experiences, lets create a separate State Agency dedicated to the Recreational FUN of the people of Michigan. This way the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) can get back to doing what they used to do and be responsible for what they used to nurture and take care in OUR State. A Healthy Natural Resources based ecosystem and beautiful Habitats through out the entire State of Michigan.

Please make the choice. demand the proper actions, and not just ignore the bad behaviour of the Agency we have entrusted with our Lands & Waterways in OUR State of Michigan. Our DNR and local Parks & Recreation.

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20 Scout mnemonics that can save a life

July 9, 2013

I follow a Scouting Blog from an Eagle Scout named Bryan. It is one of the most straight forward and informative Blogs I am signed up for. Bryan is an excellent writer and selects subjects that are always useful and interesting.

Check out his latest posting on easy to remember tips for saving lives out in the Field. Many have rhymes to help you remember what to do. An EXCELLENT posting.

These 20 easy-to-memorize Scout mnemonics could save a life.

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What’s Most Important for Life on our Planet?

June 27, 2013

OrtonvillePondPANO

As a Society we have become almost obsessed with Political correctness, the latest fads, the ever changing dos and don’ts of everyday society interactions. All this while we ignore some of the Most Important things we NEED to survive on our planet.

CLEAN WATER: Something that everything we humans consider alive, including ourselves. Many creatures can even survive without Sunlight, but NOTHING can be alive here on Earth, without clean WATER. It should be considered our most important Resource. No one should be allowed to hurt, contaminate or effect the quality of Water….ANYWHERE on Earth.

The BIRDS & BEES: And I do not mean reproduction here. Although…..that is another subjectMoth-Bee-Flower in itself. But the Birds and the Bees are the creatures that pollinated the vast majority of our Plants & Trees. Without this pollination, most would cease to exist, and then so would we. The Birds add a secondary feature……Beauty. Beauty in their Songs, Flight and actions.

CLEAN AIR: Although there are still many living things that either do not need clean air for their survival, we humans do. This clean air also feeds the needs of most plants & Trees, who take in Carbon Dioxide and release wonderful Oxygen for us to breathe. This is just the very basics here. The interconnectivity of this, goes so very deep we could spend this entire Post talking exclusively about just that.

DIVERSE HABITATS/ECOSYSTEMS: Most people forget that in order to have the diversity our planet has, we need all types of different Habitats and environments. Deep Forests, open Meadows, Deserts, Lake & River country, and on and on. A “Monoculture” does not make for a healthy Planet, nor a healthy environment, thus, not a healthy place for most of the life here including humans. This is a HUGE problem. A tree, a few bushes, some grass and some flowers, is not a healthy world. We need all types of different environments, and they need to be healthy and flourishing for us to have a truly diverse and growing planet. This is directly connected to our next big Need. Or lack of.

INVASIVE SPECIES: In so many places around the world we have completely neglected the invasion of INVASIVE SPECIES. Plants, Insects, Birds, Fish, Trees, etc. that do not belong where they are at. We have had the audacity to believe, that we humans can control our environments completely. Have a pest problem? Just bring in a certain critter that will destroy that pest. And with no known natural enemies in that environment, what does that species do when all the Pests are gone? Many different things. All unpredictable and all destructive in every way. Here in Michigan, our number one biggest problem through out the State are Invasive Species. Things like the Zebra muscle, the Autumn Olive, Canadian Geese, and so many others I could fill up this page and 20 others with the master list.Many have gotten so far out of control, there maybe no way to stop them from becoming so dominant in an environment, that only them and a few other species will remain. Again…..One big “Monoculture” of an environment. 5 species making up an entire area of the State, rather then 4-5 diverse habitats with thousands of different species interacting with one another to produce diversity and a healthy planet for all.

INTERCONNECTIVITY is a big key to most of our planets problems. People forget that 5Moths-Thistle copyeverything is connected in one way or another. Without the Milkweed plant in an ecosystem, we loose out on Butterflies and caterpillars. These creatures feed Birds and other creatures, not to mention the huge food source they produce for the ground habitats themselves. This is just ONE PLANT. But remove it or destroy most of it’s population and it changes hundreds or thousands of things. This interconnected diversity is what makes our planet so Wonderful, diverse, Beautiful, healthy, and an extraordinary place to live.

I have actually sat in Outdoor meeting with so called environmental specialists who have stated they can control all of these things. REALLY?!  They believe tat whatever we as humans destroy or effect diversely, THEY can restore or rebuild or bring back to life. UNTRUE!!!!!!!!!!!  That is some of the most arrogant and stupid thinking I have heard spewed on unsuspecting general public I have ever heard. But this IS much of the new thinking out there, from the people we trust in taking care of our Natural resources. It is the GOD syndrome, followed by the Amusement Park notion. That all of the Outdoors can be used for some sort of FUN, amusement, Race, and if damaged, can be restored easily. Again….UNTRUE!!!!!!!!!!!

BarredOwlDo we want to fix our Politically Correct problems and ever changing Society interactions, then we need a starting point. How about a HEALTHY place to live. With that comes Beauty, Wonder, Diversity, Health and all the things you base a world on. Then moving to repair and/or fix PC?Society problems become much easier working from this health base. You do not have to be a “Tree Hugger” or super “Environmentalist” to want these things. It is common sense and real science that starts off this process. It will then take some understanding and Love to round it all off to become a Wonderful place for everyone to live. It takes a solid foundation to build upon, to be successful at creating something that will last for a few days,or forever. That foundation is our Natural Resources and a Healthy Environment.

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