Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Michigan Mammals Week is July 10-16!

It’s Michigan Mammals Week next week! That means State Parks across Michigan will be holding special programs featuring our furry friends. These programs are free to the public, but you may need to pay to enter the park. If you have a Recreation Passport, you’re all set!

Check out the announcement below for details and to discover the program that’s right for you and your family.


July 5, 2017

Contact: Karen Gourlay, 248-349-3858

Celebrate Michigan Mammals Week at Michigan state parks July 10-16

TExplorer Programshe Michigan Department of Natural Resources will highlight the wonders of Michigan’s mammals during Michigan Mammals Week July 10-16 in a handful of Michigan state parks. The family-friendly programs are free for campers and visitors.

The annual program provides a fun and educational experience for the whole family. The week of hands-on programming will take place in 31 Michigan state parks and will feature hikes, animal tracking programs, games and much more.

Michigan Mammals Week and many other programs are led by state park Explorer Guides and park interpreters who work in the park and present a variety of outdoor education opportunities in more than 30 Michigan state parks Memorial Day through August. These enthusiastic, nature-minded folks lead hikes, activities and programming that shine a spotlight on each park’s unique resources.

To find a program in your favorite park, visit and click on the link “Michigan Mammals Week” under Special Programs and Activities. To see all available Explorer programming throughout the summer, view the interactive map or alphabetical list of parks.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to


Of Oaks and Acorns

The Wildlife Benefits of Acorns and Oaks

The time of year has come during which, when I’m reading in the evening in the silence of my home, I hear a sharp thwack! on the roof, followed by an increasingly quieter bump bump bump bump.

blue jay, acorn, oak, mast

Ah yes, the annual attack of the oak trees has commenced, signaled by the sound of acorns storming the roof. And so it goes, for hours, for days. Future generations of oak trees are looking for a little spot of soil to call their own, but ending up—many of them, anyway—in the rain gutters of my house.

We all know that from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow, but we should add that from tiny acorns also grow deer, gray squirrels, red squirrels, chipmunks, wild turkeys, crows, flying squirrels, rabbits, opossums, blue jays, quail,  raccoons, wood ducks—more than 100 U.S. vertebrate species eat acorns. In autumn and winter, the acorn is the cheeseburger of the forest ecosystem—fairly easy to find and nicely packaged. They are one of the most valuable food resources available for wildlife.

Acorns as Food

Like wine, acorns come in two basic types: red and white, depending on the type of oak they come from. About 90 of the world’s 400 oak species are native to the United States. White oaks, which grow leaves with rounded lobes and drop acorns every year, include species such as the chinkapin, swamp chestnut oak, live oak and post oak. The red oaks (sometimes called black oaks), which bear leaves with pointed lobes and drop acorns every other year, include scrub, willow, southern red, blackjack and black oak.

oak, acorn, mast

Also like their red and white counterparts in wine, a fine red acorn with hints of fiber and overtures of carbohydrate will include more tannin than will a white acorn. This difference in tannin, an astringent chemical common in plants, affects how wildlife use acorns. Although acorns from the red group of oaks tend to be higher in fat, protein, calories and fiber than do acorns from white oaks, the astringent quality (think of how you pucker up when you bite into unripe fruit) of red acorns makes them less palatable to wildlife, both due to taste and digestibility. Ergo, animals vacuum up acorns from the white oak group with more gusto than they do the reds.

However, acorns from white oaks germinate shortly after nestling into the earth, while reds lie dormant for months, meaning that reds will be available as a food longer. Wildlife will turn to nuts from the red-oak group in winter and into spring, when the white varieties are gone.

Acorns can compose more than 75 percent of a white-tailed deer’s diet in late fall and early winter. Deer and other animals, including black bears, alter their distribution patterns in response to acorn production. When an acorn crop is especially good, deer may produce more twin fawns, thanks to improved nutrition. A failed acorn season can cause wildlife populations dependent on acorns to decline.

Acorn Generations

A single oak tree can produce thousands of acorns in one season. My patio in autumn can become covered with acorns, like a carpet of crunchy ball bearings, and a walk in the backyard can turn into a gauntlet of pelting acorns, stinging to head and shoulders. The blasted acorns are everywhere.

Which raises a point you may find interesting. Wild things have two strategies for ensuring that they produce enough offspring to keep the species going—individuals of some species mature fast, produce a lot of young, and die soon (think mice or rabbits); in other species, individuals mature slowly, reproduce slowly, but live long (think of African elephants, with their two-year gestation period usually resulting in a single calf, with females beginning to breed in their mid teens and preferring to mate with males older than 40, and adults sometimes living into their 70s). Long life tends to equal low birth rates, because the individuals have time over the years to produce at least two offspring that mature and reproduce. An oak tree may live for centuries, but they produce hundreds of thousands of acorns, suggesting that despite their size and durability, oaks don’t have a high reproductive success rate. The reason, of course, is all those animals feeding on the nuts. The mighty oak tree is a sitting duck.


oak, acorn, squirrel, mast

Oaks are not alone in producing nuts attractive to wildlife (and people; American Indians ate acorns). Pecans, walnuts and other nuts, along with acorns, belong to the food group ecologists call “mast.” Studies of mast abundance help predict how well species such as deer and squirrels will do in a given year.

Of course acorns are not  the only things oaks contribute to wildlife survival. The trees also offer shade and shelter, leaves and twigs for building nests and even for eating, and participate in the globe’s exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide as well as in how water moves through an ecosystem.

If you want to provide oaks for wildlife, depending on where you live (get advice from local nurseries) you might want to plant bluejack, southern red or water oak for their high-fat acorns, says the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or blackjack, willow or southern red oak for high-calorie acorns.

Become a Wildlife Gardener with National Wildlife Federation. It’s free and you’ll get great wildlife gardening tips and learn how to certify your garden as an official habitat.

What To Do With Babies?

The temperatures are warming up, trees are beginning to leaf, flowers blooming, and animals are coming back or waking up.

It’s springtime in the northern hemisphere!

And with spring comes babies. Lots of them. But the increased wildlife numbers around us also increase the chances we will encounter a young animal seemingly abandoned or injured. This can especially be true of birds and deer fawns. It is in our nature to want to help them, after all they’re all alone right? Well, maybe not as much as you may think.

When it comes to mammals and birds, many species will leave their young unattended for long periods of time. This is not out of neglect, but out of survival. Repeat visits by adults may actually draw predators to their baby’s hiding place. But rest assured, the adults don’t wander too far. Most often they are much closer than you think.

But what if you come across a young animal that seems injured or in distress? What do you do? Should you do anything at all?

This blog entry by Wild Birds Unlimited has a flow chart of simple questions that may help you in determining the correct course of action.


Please Forward: What to do if you find a baby bird

Wild Birds Unlimited, East Lansing, MI

Monday, May 6, 2014

Please forward to your friends and print the article below for future reference:

Spring is a busy time for a lot of animals as new families are created. If you encounter young animals that look distressed, take a few Baby Bird careminutes to assess the situation. Wild animals rarely abandon their young.

If you find a baby bird that is too young to fly, put it back in the nest if possible. The mother will appreciate the help.
However, if you find a baby bird that is old enough to fly, but isn’t, chances are it is learning. If you look, you will see the mother nearby. Leave these older birds alone and let them learn to fly undisturbed.
If you’re still not sure what to do with a baby bird or a bird that is injured, CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference.
The following is a small list of the local rehabilitators:

  • East Lansing, MI ♦ 517.351.7304 ♦ Cheryl Connell-Marsh ♦ birds and small animals
  • Lansing, MI ♦ 517-646-9374 ♦ Tiffany Rich ♦ white tailed deer, squirrels, raccoons; Vet. Tech. on center.
  • DeWitt, MI ♦ 517.930-0087 ♦ Wildside Rehab and Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
  • Eaton Rapids, MI ♦ 517-663-6153 ♦ Wildside Rehab and Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
  • Holt, MI ♦ 517-694-9618 ♦ Carolyn Tropp ♦ Waterfowl, small birds and mammals
  • Howell, MI ♦ 517-548-5530 ♦ Howell Conference and Nature Center ♦ All wild animals except bats, skunks, starlings, raccoons, pigeons, or house sparrows.
  • Bath, MI ♦ 517-819-0170 (day) 517-641-6314 (evening) ♦ Denise Slocum ♦ Small mammals

For a complete list of Michigan Licensed Rehabilitators visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at:

Or to search for a local wildlife rehabilitation group by zip code at:

Please forward to all your friends and family and print this out for future reference.
Original article from Wild Birds Unlimited