• Door to Nature: Ready for Spring

    A report came in on Feb. 17 from a birder in Brown County that the first horned larks and an eastern meadowlark were seen along a rural road east of Bellevue. He also said that the horned larks were seen mostly near the shoulders of the country roads. I keep daily weather records of temperature, […]

  • Door to Nature: Ash Trees and the Emerald Ash Borer

    It was during the last Sturgeon Bay Christmas bird count when I noticed that several trees in the Logan Creek wetland along Sunny Slope Road had much of their bark missing. They appeared to be infected with the emerald ash borer, an aggressive insect from Asia. The dreaded invasion was first seen in 2002 near […]

  • Door to Nature: Eastern Screech Owl

    It was five years ago when we had our last polar vortex – during that winter when most of the Great Lakes were nearly totally frozen. I remember how cold it was from January on, and the wind and blowing snow made driving quite hazardous at times. In January 2014, precipitation was 28 inches of […]

  • Door to Nature: The Valentine Bird

    A recent inquiry came from a friend who lives just north of Sturgeon Bay saying that she’d heard the song of a cardinal and wondered whether it was a sign of spring. I answered telling her that it certainly could be – but remember what happened last year when winter returned in April. The male […]

  • Door to Nature: Buteos of Door County

    I occasionally see a red-tailed hawk sitting on a power pole or on the electric wires along Highway 42 about a mile north of Carlsville. These birds used to be more plentiful, as were other large hawks, but their numbers have decreased during the past few decades. The red-tail is the most common open-country hawk, […]

  • Door to Nature: The Dogwood Family

    Few native shrubs in northeastern Wisconsin are as easy to identify in a winter landscape, even from a distance, as the red dogwood. The crimson-red stems visually announce their beauty along practically every lakeshore, in moist thickets, in marshes and along the margins of swamps. The name “red osier dogwood” is what many people call […]

  • Door to Nature: The Rare American Elm Trees

    I grew up in Milwaukee and remember our shaded residential street lined with tall, graceful American elms. Their wide crowns met and arched high above the avenue, giving it the look of a gothic cathedral ceiling. Then the dreaded Dutch elm disease struck, and the trees were cut down, leaving stark, bare, bright, sunny pavement […]

  • Door to Nature: Predators of Feeder Birds

    I fill the front-yard bird feeders about an hour before sunset each day so the birds will have “supper,” and I know there will be enough food left in the morning for the early risers. How would you like to spend a cold, windy, snowy night sleeping outdoors? Granted, there are some winter campers who […]

  • Door to Nature: Great Horned Owl

    Which species of bird lives and nests in more counties in the continental United States than any other? The answer is the great horned owl, and that may come as a surprise to many people. It is a bird that is most active at night and does not visit feeders like some other species, except […]

  • Door to Nature: Christmas Bird Counts

    This year was my 47th consecutive year of organizing Door County Christmas bird counts. My first one was in 1972: the year Roy and I were married. Roy worked at The Ridges Sanctuary as well as teaching full time in several schools. I had a part-time job working as a dental hygienist in Sister Bay. […]

  • Door to Nature: Snow, Ice and Jack Frost

    Photography by Roy Lukes One of the great joys of living in the North Country is watching a “mega-flake” snowfall. It was in mid-February 1985 when such an event began. The flakes were huge, flat and fell with very little wind, making them drift down like chicken feathers, as our good friend Ted Kubicz described […]

  • Door to Nature: Christmas Trees

    This is the time of year that Roy and I would look for a nice medium-sized natural tree to bring home and decorate for Christmas. Our schedule was such that, with organizing two Christmas bird counts and preparing the Door County autumn season final bird report, it often became mid-December before we had time to […]

  • Door to Nature: Evening Grosbeaks

    Roy and I first met in late August of 1971 at The Ridges Sanctuary when a friend invited me to go on one of the guided hikes. In previous years I had only visited Door County in summer and this was my first hike at The Ridges. Roy and I began communicating and I journeyed […]

  • Door to Nature: Winter Clean-up Crew

    A few days after the first measurable snowfall of autumn this past Nov. 9, I was driving home from Ephraim, going south on County A, and I saw an adult bald eagle fly over the road and then veer to the right. I slowed down when I reached the spot and there, about 10 feet […]

  • Door to Nature: Thanksgiving is Cranberry Time

    There are a number of traditional foods associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. Roast turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce are the most common. Cranberries have a long history in this country. Native Americans introduced them to the early settlers of New England. In fact a Pilgrim cookbook dating back to 1663 had, perhaps, […]

  • Door to Nature: Eastern Cottonwood Tree

    This autumn gave us many colorful vistas of sugar maples, white ash, American beech, paper birch and red oak trees as their leaves changed from summer green to brilliant crimson, orange and yellow. Most of the deciduous trees have lost their leaves with the strong winds and rain during the past month. Now many stand […]

  • Door to Nature: Feeder Birds Change with the Seasons

    Now that we’ve had a few light frosty mornings the bird and plant ecosystem is changing. The American goldfinches are late nesters and were absent from my yard during much of September to mid-October. That’s when the adults were going through their postnuptial molt. Now the feeders and yard are teeming with lots of them. […]

  • Door to Nature: A Trip to See ‘Birds in Art’

    I remember good friends who lived in Wausau, Wis., and enjoyed visiting Door County and The Ridges Sanctuary back in the mid-1970s. They invited us to stay with them in September 1976 so that we could go to the opening of the new Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, up the hill in the eastern part […]

  • Door to Nature: Insects Get Ready for Winter

    October is the month of many changes. It begins with hopes of enjoying colorful autumn leaves, and before the month is over many have been blown off the trees. During a recent nature class that Don Quintenz and I were teaching at Björklunden, Lawrence University’s northern campus, we examined some goldenrod galls. These are commonly […]

  • Door to Nature: Frogs and Toads in Autumn

    I taught a class with Don Quintenz at Lawrence University’s northern campus, Björklunden, the week of Oct. 1 – 5. Our students spent much time hiking and exploring many natural areas, parks and preserves to examine the plants, trees and mushrooms growing there. On several occasions we heard the far-reaching “peEEP peEEP” song of the […]