• Door to Nature: Walking Sticks

    Camouflage at its best A friend recently showed me a photo she took of a walking stick near her home. No, it’s not a cane to help one navigate rough terrain – it’s an insect. These delicate-looking creatures are not easy to find because their bodies act as camouflage against tree branches and twigs. We had […]

  • Door to Nature: Distinctive Sparrows in Fall Migration

    Birding friends of mine report warblers that they see passing through on their way south, and many were keeping track of the last hummingbirds to visit their feeders. Birdwatching at this time of year is a bit more challenging because, unlike during spring migrations, birds don’t usually have bright plumage, among other factors. Most people […]

  • Door to Nature: Eye-Catching Seeds of Autumn

    A good friend sent me a picture of a very unusual plant that she saw while walking on a trail in a northern Wisconsin bog. I had seen it years ago, so I remembered its identity. It was a plume of cotton grass. For my late husband, Roy, it was a favorite northern-area plant in […]

  • Door to Nature: Harmless Snakes Need Protection

    Just the mention of snakes can make some people writhe in fear or disgust. A bad experience may have made them feel this way, but the snakes that are native to Door County are all nonpoisonous and need to be protected and appreciated. I found a dead red-bellied snake on the brick path in my […]

  • Door to Nature: The Large Moths and Butterflies of Door County

    Few creatures are as gentle, harmless and beautiful as butterflies. They don’t chase, bite or sting you, and they cannot transmit diseases. I look at butterflies as winged flowers — radiant patches with golden freckles, lazily flying, fluttering, frolicking, basking in the sunshine. They are perfect examples of peace and tranquility. Indeed, butterflies are insects […]

  • Door to Nature: Tent Caterpillar versus Fall Webworm

    Some springs, like this year’s, had many small trees and shrubs partly covered with the dense webs of tent caterpillars, but recently I noticed different types of webs on some much larger trees along country roads. My good friend Dick Smythe, an insect expert, informed me that there are two different creatures constructing and living […]

  • Door to Nature: Spiders of September

    September is a great month to search for, photograph, learn more about and increase your admiration for spiders in the great outdoors. On a recent early-morning walk, I saw a lot of dew-covered spider webs suspended between tall grasses along the side of the road. They looked like a fairyland. Arise at dawn and venture […]

  • Door to Nature: Mushroom Hunting Season Begins

    Many people ask me whether I’m finding a lot of mushrooms, and usually I say that late summer and autumn are the best times to look for them, especially after a rainy spell. In July, 8.25 inches of rain fell in north-central parts of the county, and some nice chanterelles were harvested. Now parts of […]

  • Door to Nature: Gentle, Voiceless Creatures

    Few animals are as gentle, harmless, common and beautiful as butterflies. I am finally seeing some of the wood satyrs and northern pearly eyes that live in my woods because they were about two weeks late in emerging. It is so important to cultivate in youngsters an admiration and respect for butterflies and other small […]

  • Door to Nature: Is it Really Queen Anne’s Lace?

    The county roadsides are now abloom with the tall, white, umbrella-like flowers of Queen Anne’s lace. This plant – in the parsley family – has been around for many years and is considered a weed. It was about 32 years ago when my late husband, Roy, and I discovered huge fields of a very similar flower blooming […]

  • Door to Nature: Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks

    I truly enjoy bird songs during the breeding season, and among the bird varieties that have sung in my woods for the past 42 years, one of my favorites is the rose-breasted grosbeak. They nest in this primarily upland hardwood area every year and are regulars at the feeders. Now the first youngsters are out […]

  • Door to Nature: Fireweed Heals Burned Land

    One of my favorite wildflowers, the fireweed, will soon be blooming along roadsides and in open, fallow fields.  My late husband, Roy, and I used to enjoy vacations in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and one trip to Grand Marais was memorable. This small town on the south shore of Lake Superior has a park […]

  • Door to Nature: Flying Tigers

    Yes, there are tigers in northeast Wisconsin. Some that hunt their prey by day, others by night. Their eyesight is excellent when they are not running too fast, and they use their amazing speed and fierce jaws to bring down their victims. Fortunately, these are not four-legged mammals, but rather, six-legged insects: tiger beetles. Delve […]

  • Trilliums of the Eastern United States

    I grew up in Milwaukee and never knew what a trillium was until I moved to Baileys Harbor after my late husband, Roy, and I were married in 1972. The spring hardwoods in some areas are generously adorned with trilliums in the month of May. That summer was the beginning of a longtime nature-education experience […]

  • Door to Nature: Carnivorous Plants

    Many of you have heard of the Venus flytrap, but there are some other insect-eating plants growing right here in Door County. We are fortunate to have The Ridges Sanctuary: a place where you can see some of these unusual carnivorous plants.   The most abundant is the northern pitcher plant. The hollow, water-holding, reddish-green leaves […]

  • Door to Nature: Is That an Oriole or a Redstart?

    One of the most trusting and inquisitive songbirds that more people should come to know might rival even the American robin in numbers in our state. The male of this small, chickadee-sized bird has fooled many a novice birdwatcher into thinking they were seeing a miniature Baltimore oriole. Instead, they were seeing the American redstart. […]

  • Door to Nature: Thimbleberry Flowers and Fruit

    Many wild, white-flowered plants reach center stage during the last week of June in northeastern Wisconsin. The Canada anemone, Canada dogwood, highbush cranberry, oxeye daisy, red dogwood and thimbleberry are all decked out in their immaculate white. The species that we will keep clearly in mind throughout July, patiently waiting for its delectable fruit to […]

  • Door to Nature: Egrets and Herons

    I have recorded most of the migrating species of birds that travel through Door County during the official spring season, March 1 to May 31, since 2002. Many birders in our county post the dates of their sightings to our Doorcobirders email group, and some mail a report form to me. A number of birdwatchers […]

  • Door to Nature: The Mayapple Is a June Fruit

    It was 18 years ago when my late husband, Roy, and I were guests of friends who lived in southwest Wisconsin near the Kickapoo Valley. We explored this fascinating land and found many wildflowers blooming there that were not common in Door County. We saw large patches of mayapple plants that were totally new to […]

  • Door to Nature: Iris Flowers in Door County

    I remember the fabulous flower garden that the father of Roy, my late husband, had at his home in Kewaunee. Some of the plants that he shared with us were the light-blue-flowered cultivated bearded iris. He called them the Great Lakes variety. The Iris genus was named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, so […]