Category: Door to Nature

  • DOOR TO NATURE: Wild-Mushroom Season

    This is the best time of year to search for wild mushrooms, but the five mushroom hikes that I’ve led since late August have been quite disappointing. That’s because the long, dry summer dehydrated the ground and the mycelium that produces mushrooms. The last good rain that I’ve had on my land came Sept. 12, […]

  • Door to Nature: Woodpeckers That Migrate

    The emerald ash borer, which has been invading and killing most of the large ash trees, has been a benefit to the woodpecker population. The birds find the beetles in the bark and strip off sections as they devour them. This invasive beetle was first found in southeastern Michigan only 20 years ago, and it […]

  • Door to Nature: Invasive Roadside Shrubs

    There are many weedy plants along the roadsides that county workers mow once or twice a summer. This mowing helps to spread the seeds along the shoulders of the roads, so we’ll never be rid of these nonnative plants. Some do provide seeds for migrating birds, however. There are other plants that develop along the […]

  • Door to Nature: Wildlife and Drought

    Some people may read the title and wonder what I’m talking about because parts of northeastern Wisconsin have had flooding rains within the past few months. That is not the case here in northern Door County, however. I keep weather records, including rainfall, every day. The total rain here in central northern Door County was […]

  • Door to Nature: The Brushfoot Butterflies of Late Summer

    I’ve written about birds for many weeks, but now much of the singing and mating have ended. I did hear a crested flycatcher call during my morning walk on Aug. 1, and I also heard an eastern wood-pewee and red-eyed vireo sing, but the other avian residents were quiet. Once the nesting season finishes, most […]

  • Door to Nature: Night-Herons

    Birdwatchers are familiar with the great variety of small songbirds that visit feeders and bird baths, but other nesting species here in northeastern Wisconsin are rarely seen. One of these is the black-crowned night-heron. This species usually breeds on the islands surrounding Door County or in dense marshes along the shores and appears mainly at […]

  • Door to Nature: Winter Birds of Prey

    The winter avian landscape is usually much quieter than the summer breeding season. Bird activity during the winter is mainly to find enough food and seek shelter from predators. With few insects available to eat, it’s important to provide seeds and suet for both the bird visitors from the north and the year-round residents such […]

  • Door to Nature: Royal Fall Wildflowers

    The exciting array of showy wildflowers that decorates northeast Wisconsin’s country landscape in all directions might be called the “royal purple and gold” of autumn.  One of my absolute favorites is the New England aster, which is in peak bloom by late September. Asters — sturdier and more successful than most wildflowers — are in […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: Chanterelle Mushrooms

    The best time to find a great variety of wild mushrooms is autumn. That’s because fungi increase their development as the growing season for all plants comes to an end. A few species have an earlier fruiting time, however. May is the best month for morels, and July is usually the prime month for seeking […]

  • Door to Nature: ‘Mosquito Hawks’

    Dragonflies are fearsome insect predators and dazzling fliers The summer skies over most wetlands can be laced with rapidly flying creatures that are difficult to identify. These are dragonflies that feed on many small, flying insects.  You cannot easily determine their identity unless they come to rest on a plant or object near you. Dragonflies […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: Flags and Irises

    Flag Day is June 14, and many American flags fly all over the country on Independence Day. This is also the time of year when you can find beautiful natural flags – in the form of the blue flag iris – blooming in many wetlands. This tall, native flower inhabits quiet waters such as small streams, shallow […]

  • Lily-Family Flowers

    This family of common wild and domestic plants is easy to identify because typical flowers are in parts of three or six, and the leaves are parallel veined. One of the most well known is the giant trillium of spring deciduous woodlands. This is the only flower in the group that does not have tepals.  […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: An Uncommon Common Merganser

    Charlotte Lukes retrieved this story from Roy Lukes’ 2009 Peninsula Pulse files to honor the late Chick Peterson of Ephraim. June is usually the prime time for young birds to be leaving their nests. There are about 85 bird species in North America that use cavities – either holes in trees or human-made nest boxes […]

  • Door to Nature: Fledgling Birds

    June is the month when most songbirds are mated and females are in their nests, incubating eggs. Males sing from trees nearby, encouraging their mates to be successful at hatching the eggs and remaining vigilant for predators.  During the 1970s, my late husband, Roy, and I used to conduct a breeding-bird survey for the federal […]

  • Bluebirds of Happiness

    Have you ever heard of the Bluebird of Happiness? Every time I see a bluebird, it makes me happy. Most people have never seen one close up, but if you maintain and monitor a bluebird trail, you know the joy of seeing these birds using your nest boxes. “The Bluebird of Happiness” is a song […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: Help Native Birds Survive

    There are many people who enjoy birdwatching and feeding songbirds that nest in our area. It is important to keep your feeders and bird baths clean and refreshed daily.  The bird flu that has devastated many poultry farms does not appear to affect small songbirds. There has been evidence of larger birds like bald eagles […]

  • Door to Nature: The Mimics of the Bird World

    Spring is when we look forward to returning songbirds and revel in the males’ territorial music as they claim nesting areas and try to attract females. The sandhill cranes can be heard from more than a quarter mile away if conditions are favorable. Smaller songbirds require less territory and are not as loud. Black-capped chickadees, […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: The Blackbird Family

    Blackbirds are not appealing to the average birder. They are considered a nuisance, especially if you approach their nest sites. The male flies at you with his sharp claws and beak to drive you away. We used to have red-winged blackbirds dominate our bird feeders and prevent access by other birds. Their piercing calls were […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: Tundra Swans

    Many years ago, March was the month when my late husband, Roy, and I would anticipate the return of flocks of whistling swans as they migrated back north from their wintering sites along the Chesapeake Bay.  You may remember that the name “whistling swan” was changed to “tundra swan” sometime during the early 1980s. I […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: My Winter Bird Feeders

    I have six feeding stations in the front yard that are getting lots of activity now that the land is snow covered and the air is cold. The feeders offer black-oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, dried cracked corn, millet seeds, shelled peanuts, suet cakes and marvel meal. The view from my second floor allows […]