• Great Blue Herons and other Large Waterbirds

    The most widely distributed and best known heron of our country, the largest and most majestic of these fascinating waterbirds, is the Great Blue Heron. In looking back to my high school years in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, 1944 – 1947, some of the most memorable adventures were spent in the old Chippewa wooden and canvas canoe that […]

  • Monarch butterfly Roy Lukes

    Roy Lukes: The Fascinating Relationship Between Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed Plants

    There is a fascinating relationship between a group of plants and an insect weighing about one-50th of one ounce, an insect that is protected by an ordinance in Pacific Grove, Cal. Some Canadians call the insect “King Billy” because the orange and black colors of the tiny creature were those of King William of Orange. […]

  • The Fossils of Door County

    If there was one time when I really got turned onto the mystery and fun of searching for, finding and learning about fossils, it was when I was working for the Kewaunee Highway Department during the summer of 1950. A crew was building a new road somewhere north of Luxemburg and the quarry from which […]

  • Birds of Color

    We in the north live in a monochromatic world most of the winter. Black, white and gray are the dominant colors, with leafless trees and snow-covered landscapes. Even many of the birds are black and white, such as the Chickadees, Juncos, Nuthatches and most Woodpeckers. Our only really colorful birds here all year are the […]

  • The Marvelous Mayflowers

    A very small wildflower genus with gigantic popularity will soon be carpeting many of the deciduous woods of eastern Wisconsin. Its genus and best common name are the same, Hepatica.

  • Roy Lukes

    The Mourning Dove

    What a delightfully peaceful atmosphere the Mourning Doves provided for us while we were growing up in the small city of Kewaunee, Wisconsin. They’d perch on the power lines high above our backyard and sing non-stop, a gentle “oh WHOoo who who.” It was when I was cutting the large lawn at my mother’s cousin […]

  • Roy Lukes

    Wild Cherry Tree

    With Door County being one of the prime tart cherry producing areas in North America, most people tend to overlook the most common wild cherry trees that are native to our county and state. All of the three main species – Black Cherry, Chokecherry and Pin Cherry – produce fruit relished by quite a few […]

  • Roy Lukes

    Looking for Moths

    The world of darkness for a majority of people keeps them indoors, mostly in the comfort of their homes or perhaps at a restaurant, theater or concert hall. It took several great nature writers and naturalists to introduce me to the insect wonders of darkness. The two people to whom I owe my deepest thanks […]

  • Cowslips and Cow’s-lips

    This morning I went down to the swamp bordering Hibbards Creek, which flows under Fairview Road a few miles from home, to look for gold and found some – Marsh Marigolds, the golden symbol of spring.

  • Len Villano, fawn

    Wild Baby Animals

    It was immediately following the melting of winter’s snow of 1940 that my cousin Buzz Besadny and I were hired to rake the huge lawn and clean the flowerbeds at one of the large homes in south Kewaunee. Both of us felt we were being greatly underpaid for the difficult job; as it turned out, […]

  • Roy Lukes

    Feeding Birds in the Winter

    Feeding wild songbirds in winter can be very rewarding and also challenging. Year-round feeding can be doubly gratifying, which is what Charlotte and I have been doing for many years. To be perfectly honest, we don’t supply these creatures with food thinking we are helping them remain alive and healthy. We realize our desire to […]

  • Roy Lukes

    Knee Deep in Frogs & Toads

    It was in 1906 that Mary Dickerson (1866–1923) had her outstanding book, The Frog Book, published. It proved to be so popular that Dover Publications came out with its own copyrighted publication in 1969. Of the dozen or more references available on frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians, this is still the book I refer […]

  • Roy Lukes

    The Dazzling World of Dragonflies

    It was in 1937, as a fourth-grader in the Kewaunee Public School, that we began studying more about our great state of Wisconsin. I was happy to learn about our state bird, the American Robin; our state tree, the Sugar Maple; and our state wildflower, the Common Blue Violet. The thought of choosing a state […]

  • Roy Lukes

    Bloomin’ Trees & Shrubs

    Relatively few people realize that all trees produce flowers. Trees require flowers in order to produce seeds, simple as that. Most people can see and recognize apple and cherry blossoms. However, birches, maples and elms, whose blossoms are wind-pollinated and don’t require the help of insects for transferring pollen, have very inconspicuous flowers that are […]

  • The Evergreen Trees of Winter

    I was very fortunate as a boy growing up in Kewaunee that my dad loved trees so much, especially the evergreens. Several little White Spruces, most likely uprooted from my dad’s home farm woods, were planted in several locations. The one growing on our south front lawn was small enough that we young squirts could […]

  • Roy Lukes

    Wildflowers of Autumn

    A county where wildflowers can be enjoyed for around seven months of the year must be very special, and Door County is such a place. Even though spring is often rich with wildflowers before the dense, leafy canopy of the woods develops, blocking out most of the sunlight, far more species can be seen elsewhere […]

  • The Lady’s-slipper

    The great majority of Door County residents will be surprised to learn that the strikingly magnificent Large Yellow Lady’s-slipper Orchid is Door County’s official flower, and in the early 1980s the Door County Board of Supervisors voted these plants and their habitats to be protected by law. Idealistically, I thought when the law was approved […]

  • The Porcupine

    The porcupine, a mammal native to Wisconsin, is the second largest rodent in North America. It doesn’t hibernate and, with luck, may be seen in wooded areas throughout the year. In all likelihood it is dog owners who have become most familiar with this clumsy, slow-moving creature, frequently referred to as a genuine nuisance. What […]

  • Roy Lukes, chickadee

    Black-capped Chickadee

    If one were to conduct a popularity contest regarding the wild birds of the forest, attempting to determine the one that is most widely-recognized and enjoyed, which do you suppose it would be? My vote would go to a pert, friendly, little feathered gymnast, the one the American Indians of this region called “ch’geegee-lokh-sis,” the […]

  • Nature’s Recyclers

    This past June my wife Charlotte and I came across a cup fungus which we at first considered to be a new species, #552 for Charlotte’s Door County list of mushroom species. She knew she had never seen one like it in the county in the past, nor had I ever photographed one either. Even […]