Category: Door to Nature

  • 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 […]

  • Crawling Before They Fly

    A turning point in my life with nature occurred when I was about eight or nine years old. My two older brothers and I had gone to spend the day playing at our grandparents’ home, which was “down the hill” from our house in Kewaunee. They had a wonderful yard and garden rich for exploring, […]

  • The Love of Nature, a Way of Life

    You have a problem:  song birds kamikaze into your front window. What do you do? Chances are you call Roy and Charlotte Lukes for the answer:  suspend over your window a string with a few turkey feathers tied at intervals. It works. Roy and Charlotte are the go-to couple for people in Door County who […]

  • Tramp with the Golden Crown

    A plant that Mother Nature scatters to the rich and poor alike, a notorious weed that has so many ways of getting ahead of us, is unquestionably recognized by more people than any other flowering plant in the world. It’s the “tramp with the golden crown,” the “lion’s tooth,” the scourge of suburban homeowners, the […]

  • Owls

    Few birds have received more admiration throughout history than those priceless wonders designed for darkness, the owls. Look around you and chances are good that an owl peers down at you in some form of art, or perhaps as a toy or a piece of jewelry. One of the several highly-admired owls in our home […]

  • Old-Growth Forests

    Growing up in the small town of Kewaunee, especially during my high school days from 1944 to 1947, taking long weekend hikes in our favorite woods was an absolute tonic, a necessity, for a few of my best friends and me. The privately-owned mixed hardwoods bordering the Kewaunee River on the north and west sides […]

  • Wildlife of the Niagara Escarpment

    Wisconsin has cuesta (pronounced “kway-stah”) formed topography. A cuesta is a land elevation with a gentle slope on one side and a steep cliff on the other. Undoubtedly Wisconsin’s best known, understood and used cuesta is the entire landmass of Door County itself, stretching from the bay of Green Bay on the west to Lake […]

  • Spring Ephemeral Wildflowers

    I began to learn and enjoy spring wildflowers in early childhood in one of my dad’s favorite woods bordering the Kewaunee River, close to his home farm near Slovan. These are still among my favorites today; included are the Hepatica, Trout Lily, Large-flowered Trillium, Bloodroot, Spring Beauty, Dutchman’s Breeches, several different violets and Wild Ginger. […]

  • The Wild Turkey in Door County

    The historical range of the Wild Turkey in Wisconsin, as documented by Schorger in 1943, did not include Door County. These large birds were found mostly in the southern third of the state and their highest abundance was in the southwestern corner. By 1860 they were very uncommon and were completely extirpated by the late […]