Category: Door to Nature

  • Door to Nature: Fascinating Moths and Caterpillars

    It was late August 2002 when my late husband, Roy, was using his first digital camera while photographing an unusual caterpillar. The creature was feasting on wild grape leaves, which are abundant here in Door County. After doing some research, we learned that the caterpillar was the pandorus sphinx, a very large, strange-looking creature. Most […]

  • Door to Nature: Molting Stress on Birds

    A few weeks ago, my bird feeders were like O’Hare Airport. Well, not exactly, but there were so many rose-breasted grosbeaks, woodpeckers and blue jays landing and taking off that it was difficult to supply enough food for all the hungry adults and newly fledged youngsters. Now, with most of the breeding season over, the […]

  • Door to Nature: Morel Mushrooms

    I remember seeing a brochure once that proclaimed, “May is Morel Month in Michigan,” but that’s true for most places where these fungi grow. It really depends more on weather, soil moisture and the preferred habitat of these sought-after gems. Someone we knew years ago hunted wild turkeys in southwestern Wisconsin each spring and found […]

  • Door to Nature: Spiders Do Much More Good Than Harm

    Discovering an unusual spider on a perennial plant in my front yard led me to send a photo of it to Mike Draney, a UW-Green Bay professor of entomology and a spider expert. He replied that it was a nursery web spider, and seeing its swollen body, he said it was loaded with eggs. He […]

  • Door to Nature: Bugs and Beetles

    More than a million kinds of insects have been identified in the world – more than all other animals combined. These creatures’ vast array includes some of the more common types, such as beetles, butterflies, moths, bugs, flies, bees, wasps and dragonflies. Anyone who refers to all insects as bugs will be surprised to learn that, […]

  • Door to Nature: The Swedish Twinflower

    There are many plants in The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor that are boreal, which means they grow in the world’s far-northern conifer forests. This fabulous sanctuary contains many of these flowers because the winds blowing in from Lake Michigan bathe the land with cool moisture, creating almost a subarctic climate. Among these flowers is […]

  • Door to Nature: Horse Chestnut Trees

    There is an ornamental deciduous tree that is quite spectacular when it blooms in the late spring, and its compound leaves provide dense shade during hot, summer days. It’s the horse chestnut tree. It is not as widely grown as it was during the last century, but it can still be seen in many parts […]

  • Door to Nature: Migrating Birds and Climate Change

    Our winter weather this past year was more dry and a bit milder than normal, but that was not the case in the South during February. Most of the states from Texas and Oklahoma to the Carolinas and up to Kentucky were hit with a long period of freezing weather that caused power outages and […]

  • Door to Nature: Bird Conservation Events in May

    Global Big Day – the annual, worldwide birding event – will be held May 8, and anyone with internet access can participate. It is a way to conduct a one-day census of bird species and numbers throughout the world’s birding community. Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, developed the online eBird organization through its Cornell Lab for […]

  • Door to Nature: Early-Blooming Trailing Arbutus

    It is one of the most-anticipated events here in the North Country: the blossoming of the first wildflowers. A few in that category – the skunk cabbage and the trailing arbutus – are secluded and not very abundant. A good friend, Larry Warren, sent me several beautiful photos he made of trailing arbutus in full bloom on […]

  • Door to Nature: The April Sky Dance of the American Woodcock

    This is the time of year to look for that special place where a male woodcock performs his spring mating ritual. Find a field or a large opening near a wooded area; wait until 22 minutes after sunset on a warm, clear, calm evening; then listen for the “peenting” sound of the male on the […]

  • Door to Nature: The Great Blue Heron

    Have you ever heard of a “flying wheelbarrow”? That’s the term I learned when starting my adventures in bird-watching. It refers to the great blue heron, flying with its head and neck tucked into its chest and the two long legs sticking out the other end. The curved neck appears somewhat like the front wheel […]

  • Door to Nature: Spring Birding

    March is the month when many birds return to Door County. The greater hours of daylight and higher level of the sun cheer us all and change  birds’ activity to beginning to set up a breeding territory and seeking a mate. The blackbird group is one that makes an early appearance – some species often by […]

  • Door to Nature: The Ears and Horns of Owls

    If you know anything about birds, you’ve probably heard of a great horned owl. But does it really have horns? No. But it does have feather tufts that can stand up and resemble small horns. There are two other species with common names that are a bit unusual: the long-eared owl and the short-eared owl. […]

  • Door to Nature: Winter Seed Pods

    The thin covering of snow so far this winter is allowing some plants to show their seed structures above the surface. Often they go unnoticed prior to winter because they blend in with the other plants and woodland debris on the ground. The conspicuous remains of many plants are a pleasant reminder of the forthcoming […]

  • Door to Nature: The Well-known Mallard

    Which duck would you say is the most common – and perhaps the first one you learned to identify as a youngster? I remember, as a child, our family trips to the Milwaukee lakefront to see the wildlife (the birds, not the people), and the mallards were the most numerous of any waterfowl there. At the […]

  • Door to Nature: Rare Winter Bird Visitors

    I subscribe to several local and statewide bird-observation networks through which members report unusual bird sightings by email. During two days in the middle of December, a very rare bird was reported visiting feeders and a heated bird bath on the south side of Sturgeon Bay. It was a Bullock’s oriole! This species breeds in […]

  • Door to Nature: Bird Beaks

    How would you survive if you had to pick up everything you wanted to eat by grabbing it with your mouth? For most birds, that’s their way of getting nourishment, so their beak is a vital part of their existence. The size and shape of a beak varies dramatically with each species, depending on what […]

  • Door to Nature: Winter Greenery

    A friend asked about some low-growing green plants that we saw on a recent walk with our hiking group. This time of year, most of the landscape is brown and seemingly dead, but there’s still a family of small, interesting evergreen plants to watch for: the clubmosses. Most people connect the word “evergreen” with the […]

  • Door to Nature: Spring Comes to the Upland Hardwoods

    During the past two years, April and May have not been very springlike, with more snow than we expected and very wet, cold weather. In fact, the cherry orchards didn’t bloom until Memorial Day last year — nearly two weeks late. I’ve been living in an upland maple-beech-hemlock climax forest for the past 37 years […]