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Category: Door to Nature

  • Door to Nature: Ascomycetes in the Spring

    There are only a few mushrooms worth seeking in the spring woods. The black morel is one that sometimes appears before the yellow or brown morel, and both of these are edible in limited amounts. One year, two friends from Suamico visited, and we picked 16 pounds of yellow morels in one day. We divided […]

  • Door to Nature: Frogs and Toads

    Late April is when my late husband, Roy, and I used to venture down a trail in The Ridges Sanctuary to listen for the croaking wood frogs in one of the swales. Their calls can be compared to raspy, quacking ducks, or, as Roy used to say, they sound like the old cartoon character Mr. […]

  • Door to Nature: Sugar Maple Tree Sap

    A favorite slogan of mine is, “May is the month for morel mushrooms.” But now I also like “March is the month for maple syrup.”  Friends who live in Sturgeon Bay tap 200 sugar maple (Acer saccharum) trees each year in late winter. The best sap run occurs on sunny days when the temperature rises […]

  • Door to Nature: Winter Finches

    Spring is an exciting time to go bird-watching. We await the arrival of many species returning from the south in April and May, showing their colorful breeding plumage. Autumn is a rewarding bird-watching season as well, but it’s a more challenging time to identify migrating birds because adults have subdued, post-breeding “attire,” and the immature […]

  • Door to Nature: SOS

    I have noticed a female sharp-shinned hawk catching birds in my front yard since last November. I can tell she’s a “sharpie” by the squared-off end of her tail, and by her head, which is smaller than that of a Cooper’s hawk. She is also distinctive in that she has several small patches of white […]

  • Door to Nature: Winter Bird Feeding

    Forty years ago, when we moved into our new home in the middle of the county – within a large upland hardwood forest with only a few scattered hemlock trees – the habitat was quite different from the Lake Michigan conifer woodland where we had lived previously. Our home was 180 feet higher in elevation and was […]

  • Trees and Mushrooms: How Are They Connected

    It was in the autumn of 1993 when my late husband, Roy, and I set out on a four-week driving trip to see the mountains and giant trees of the Pacific Northwest. We had both taught classes at The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay and were eager to see some of the places that […]

  • Winter Bird Feeding

    I watched a male pileated woodpecker carve out a large hole in one of the tall basswood trees south of my front yard. It was big enough for him to get his entire head and neck inside. There were probably some tasty insects hidden there. Birds that are nonmigratory know where to find natural food […]

  • Edible and Poisonous Wild Mushrooms

    Author’s Note: This article is not meant to encourage anyone to eat wild mushrooms. Ignorance and carelessness are the major reasons why people suffer poisoning and sometimes death. Wild mushrooms have their particular growing season and are dependent on adequate soil moisture to develop. Many mycophagists (people who eat fungi such as mushrooms) know the […]

  • Christmas Bird Counts Coming Up

    It’s time to begin planning for the annual Christmas bird counts. The Sturgeon Bay count goes on all day, Saturday, Dec. 17, and the Brussels count is all day, Sunday, Dec. 18. People who can identify birds well and maintain feeders may count at their homes if they live within the 15-mile-diameter counting circle. Contact […]

  • Unusual Fall Migrating Birds

    A local birder reported seeing a single cattle egret in a field in central Northern Door in late October this year. Birders are always on the lookout for unusual species that may be visiting briefly on their southward migration in the fall. When my late husband, Roy, and I lived at The Ridges Sanctuary’s Upper […]

  • DOOR TO NATURE: All Hail the Kinglets

    I was teaching a class at Björklunden in late September and took my students to several parks and preserves to study mushrooms and other nonflowering plants. There were some birders in the group, and we heard the high-pitched calls of golden-crowned kinglets at Toft Point. I am glad that I now wear hearing aids because […]

  • 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 […]