Eggs-citing things are out in the woods
ESCANABA – June is an egg-cellent month in Upper Michigan.
There are a lot of good eggs out there.
Some have already hatched and others will hatch very soon.
Have you adopted a family of nestling robins in your backyard apple tree? Or perhaps you’ve taken in boarders – a nest full of finches under the eaves of your house? Maybe a wren is residing in the birdhouse by the garden or blue birds might be nesting in the boxes on the fence line.
Eggs are everywhere these days. Some are very obvious, like the orioles long sock shaped nest hung in a tree or the cup of dried grass in the hedge filled with fledgling sparrows.
Birds of Michigan use just about every sort of territory and building materials to construct a nest and raise a family.
Ground nesters usually build the simplest of nests. Just a few pebbles or sticks on the ground make suitable nests for mallard ducks, geese, sand pipers, and night hawks. Their eggs blend into their surroundings.
The ruffed grouse, woodcock and wild turkey lay their eggs in a well camouflaged depression on the ground, too. But watch out – these game bird protect their nests with shrieks, hisses, raised feathers and flopping wings.
The killdeer parents will even fake that they have a broken wing to lead trespassers away from their nests and after them.
Next we have the birds who build small or large bowl-shaped nests in trees. The bald eagle has one of the largest of these types. Mom and Pa Eagle construct an aerie in the crown of a tree. It’s often a pine tree near a lake or river for handy fishing access. A nest five-feet wide or more, made of everything from sticks, small logs, bark, broom handles, and cattails, is where they hatch their eaglets.
The ruby throated-humming bird knits her nest together with spider silk and tiny pieces of lichens. Barely two inches wide, this nest looks like a tiny tuff of moss on a tree limb. It is the smallest bird nest in Michigan.
The cavity nesters are the most mysterious and maybe the safest. Hatchling woodpeckers, chick-a-dees and nuthatches, are seldom seen. Their parents have developed a plan to hide their offspring away in a hollow spot in a tree until the babies are ready to fly.
This is why it is so important to have a few “good” dead or dying trees in your woodlands. The cavity nesters need imperfect trees to nest in.
Even the toads, turtles and frogs have hidden eggs in the ponds, puddles, sand and mud. Given the right moisture level, warmth, and enough time, these little critters will hatch, too.
We stand as guardians to all of these bird and toad eggs. We should cheer for every insect and mosquito-eating creature, to grow up.
It is sort of like walking on eggshells out there. Caution where we walk and ride is necessary for a few more weeks. We may need to keep a little distance between us and the nesting boxes and nesting trees right now.
It is fun to try to identify all of the bird nest that you come across in the summer. Bird nest and egg guides are available at the library.
Sky-blue eggs, speckled eggs, oval and round, beige eggs, green eggs, glossy and dull-Upper Michigan is home to some awesome eggs.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.