Tag Archives: nature

The Virginia Opossum: Oakland County’s Mysterious Marsupial

18 Dec
WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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What animal lived during the age of the dinosaurs, gives birth 13 days after a honeymoon, has thumbs on their hind feet and is falsely accused of being, a big ugly rat? If you guessed Didelphis virginiana, the Virginia opossum, you are right. The opossum is the only marsupial found in North America; Oakland County is home for hundreds, if not thousands of these amazing omnivores. The Virginia Opossum has fifty teeth (the most of any mammal) and feeds on almost anything and everything. They will hunt, kill and eat mice and rats and relish rotting road kill and crunchy cockroaches. Bird eggs, berries, beetles, frogs, fish and fruits of all sorts are also on the delicacy list. Don’t forget to add snakes, slugs and snails too. To put it simply, if it produces a scent, the opossum will eat it. Continue reading

Turkey Tales on Oakland Trails

26 Nov

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Coyotes, foxes and great horned owls take keen interest in the wild turkey flocks that inhabit the oak-rich woodlands and brushy fields of the wilder side of Oakland County. When luck and hunting skill is on their side, this trio of stealthy predators often feasts on fine, feathery dinners.

These images of a coyote hunting and a wild turkey in the same field were captured by an infra-red activated wildlife camera in northern Oakland County.
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November: A Great Month for Hiking

19 Nov

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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November trails are mosquito free. The air is rich and crisp. Crowds are gone. In November, leafless woodlands are home to peaceful solitude and delicate beauty. Go for a hike on the trails of our county and you just may embrace the timeless words of Henry David Thoreau, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

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Outwitting Fall Foliage Poison Ivy

1 Oct

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the days shorten and the nights cool, the woodlands of Oakland County are transforming into kaleidoscopes of color. Golden hues of sugar maple, the deep crimsons of sassafras and the scarlet-red shades of red maple are the dominant colors on nature’s autumn palette. However, there is one troublesome plant that hides in the showy mix, a plant dressed in alluring shades of red: Poison Ivy.

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A Head Start Program for Turtles

11 Sep

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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The Detroit Zoo (located in Royal Oak) is 90 miles south of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.  But for 27 young Blanding’s turtles that slid from warm human hands into the cool duckweed-coated backwaters of the Shiawassee at the end of August, that journey to freedom took two years. These turtles were saved from near certain consumption by raccoons when they were still yummy munchies in their eggs. Multiple agencies worked on the project, a reminder to all who appreciate the wilder side of nature that all things are connected.

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Poison Sumac: Our Wetland Beauty with a Dark Secret

3 Sep

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Erika Cole Pratt of Ann Arbor Parks admires a beautiful poison sumac tree in a Rose Township wetland.

Swamp walkers and wetland trail hikers need to keep a sharp lookout for one of the most beautiful plants of our wetlands: Toxicodendron vernix, better known as poison sumac. This scraggly, shrub-like small tree thrives in the swamps, bogs, marshes and other wetlands of Oakland County. It is one of the first plants to dress in spectacular autumn colors that can best be described as flaming orange with a dark red hue. Poison sumac, as alluring and beautiful as it may be, presents a far more prevalent hazard to hikers than an encounter with Michigan’s only venomous snake, the massasauga rattlesnake. In these early days of September, poison sumac stands out drastically among the trailside – let the color and leaf pattern be a warning of its clear and present danger.

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The Red Fox: Master of Adaptation

25 Aug

THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A red fox watches closely after he detects a human ( Jonathan) watching him in the Brandon Township woods they both share.

A red fox watches closely after he detects a human ( Jonathan) watching him in the Brandon Township woods they both share.

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes fluva) is found in every county in Michigan, and is very much at home on the wilder (and not so wild) sides of Oakland County. These rusty-red colored predators with bushy white-tipped tails and black legs are not restricted to large woodlands, parklands and fields. Sometimes, red foxes will den near suburban homes or even in industrial areas that offer good hunting and a hiding habitat.  Fox commonly hunt near golf courses, where rabbits are easy to find and have no place to hide. It’s all a matter of adapting to opportunity and adjusting to the ways of humans that dominate their landscape.

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