Category: Door to Nature

  • Roy Lukes


    Few people would sense a relationship between a species of juniper and the old-fashioned “two for a nickel” lead pencils, nor would they realize the importance of that same plant to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The light aromatic wood, used in the manufacture of pencils for many years, was derived from the Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana. […]

  • Roy Lukes: Cranberry

    There are few native plants with which I have had more fun through the years in my nature interpretation with people than the woody shrub the Native Americans called “sour berry” and the pilgrims nicknamed “ruby of the bog.” I point out the exquisitely small four-petaled pink flowers in June while informing the hikers, “Everyone […]

  • Roy Lukes: The Smoky Gold Tamaracks

    Typical of the oaks, there is a Red Oak near our front yard that is clinging on to it leaves tenaciously. I look at one leaf being twirled round and round by the wind and wonder how long it can be subjected to such constant stress before it finally comes loose and falls to the […]

  • Roy Lukes: Nuthatch in the Tuxedo

    If you can imagine a small bird lodging an acorn or a beechnut in a crevice on the trunk of a tree and “hacking” it open in order to get at the meat, then the name of “nuthatch” shouldn’t be as baffling as some take it to be. Indeed, there are a few Old World […]

  • Roy Lukes: Spiders Are Our Partners in Nature

    Even though people’s outdoor decorations related to the celebration of Halloween can’t compare with those of the Christmas season, nevertheless there occur some rather fascinating, albeit far-fetched concoctions devised for scaring passersby, or especially the little trick-or-treaters. Some feature enormous masses of gauzy spider web-like material draped over entire small trees or shrubs. Imagine how […]

  • yellow rumped warbler roy lukes

    Roy Lukes: Yellow-Rumped Warbler

    A migratory wave of tiny birds is moving through northeastern Wisconsin, reaching its peak in mid-October. Quite a few people who report them will catch glimpses of white outer tail feathers and will report them as northern juncos. A closer look would have revealed a yellow patch at the upper base of the tail. They […]

  • American Toad Eye Roy Lukes

    Roy Lukes: Get to Know the American Toad

    It happened this past Sept. 27 when Charlotte, our friends Beth and Don Bartoli from Kenosha, and I were hiking on Rock Island in Northern Door that our eagle-eyed friend, Don, found a large Garter Snake which had caught an American Toad. We marveled at the find, took some pictures of the hind legs of […]

  • White oak leaf. roy lukes

    Roy Lukes: The Mighty Oaks

    I like to think there was rejoicing among the wild animals recently after the strong winds. My guess is that many tons of acorns were shaken to the ground in our county, there to be eaten by at least two dozen or more species of wild animal among the nearly 100 known to consume acorns […]

  • Giant Puffball Roy Lukes

    Door to Nature: Puffball Mushrooms

      Every now and then I long for a quiet, sunny Saturday afternoon in early fall, about the time the Sugar Maple leaves are changing color, when I can return to one of my boyhood haunts in the woods. Reminiscing is so sweet when it can be done where happy-go-lucky experiences as a youngster were […]

  • white baneberry roy lukes

    Door To Nature: Wild Fruits and Berries

      Hundreds of people, hiking in the woods with me in early autumn of past years, have looked at a fruiting plant and asked, “What kind of a berry is that?” Frequently it turned out that the fruit was not a berry but rather a pome, drupe or drupelet. In the technical botanical sense, a […]

  • geese and gosling roy lukes

    Door to Nature: Canada Geese

    Every now and then something quite wonderful happens as I sit staring at my blank paper collecting my thoughts for a story. As usual this week I had scribbled the night before at least two pages of words, ideas and phrases laced with circles or boldly underlined “important” thoughts frequently connected by arrows or squiggly […]

  • 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.