Opportunities for encounters with the natural world are not limited to the trails of our parklands. The glacially created hills, open fields and meadows, forests, wetland habitats and agriculture practices of Oakland County’s 908 square miles provide excellent habitat for our abundant white-tailed deer population and the elusive eastern coyote; the apex predator of our county.
Deer and coyotes know no borders and most sightings are surprise encounters when they are out in the open very close to homes, crossing a frozen lake or a highway. During the deep snow days of winter deer visit bird feeders and coyotes scavenger for road kill within yards of homes. But some of the most exciting encounters occur in the woodlands; where they have the ability to hide in plain sight.
To survive amidst the almost one and a quarter million human residents of the county, large wild species must adapt to human presence and avoid detection. Coloration helps many creatures blend into the woodland environment and they often go unseen when not moving; but there is no question they note the passing of humans. Predators and their prey both use a motionless stance to avoid detection when danger is nearby. And if a human takes heed from their behavior and finds a place to wait and watch, they too are hidden in plain sight and the reward may be an up close view of the wilder side of Oakland County.
Text and photos by Jonathan Schechter, Nature Education Writer – Oakland County Parks www.destinationoakland.com