Long Lake critters


Today’s a day for putting a not-so-beautiful critter in a prominent place. This big Snapping Turtle hauled herself, probably herself (we didn’t ask), out of the water onto the island at the south end of the lake. It’s near the time of the year when Michigan mother snappers will lay their eggs in sandy soil. That happens in late May to early June. We’re sort of there. It’s not easy to find sandy soil on Long Lake islands. So she probably has to start looking kind of early.

Snapping turtles aren’t attentive parents. Mother will lay the eggs. She buries them so hopefully they won’t all be eaten by the egg eaters and then leaves them. If they escape being somebody’s breakfast, a few months after the eggs were laid the hatchlings will, well, hatch. They head for the water. Eggs that were kept warmer turn out to be females. Eggs that were kept colder turn out to be males. Let’s not try to glean any greater truths from that.

A snapping turtle has a small shell relative to its overall size. It can’t pull all its vulnerable parts under its shell, so that may account for its aggressive temperament. On land, don’t mess with them. It’s not really a good idea to help snappers cross roads by picking them up. That bony beak has no teeth but steer clear or you may not be so accurate counting on your fingers anymore. But in the water these big guys are meek. They like to hide in the mud with just their heads sticking out. They aren’t likely to bite off your toes. Anyway, that’s what U of M BioKids tells kids. U of M wouldn’t fib. While a snapper is buried in mud, they will open their mouth, hoping to attract prey with a dangly part that looks a bit wormlike. If you don’t look too closely, I suppose.

Snappers are omnivores. We have two families of Canada Geese that are already hatched and pooping all over our lawns. There are five little goslings in one family and four in the other. They are small enough that a big snapper could…well…it would probably be very mean to hope for that.

And here is one of Long Lake’s loons doing that half-submerged thing that they do.


It looks like at least one pair and possibly one solo loon have joined us this year. It’s still hard to tell. Soon the pair should set to nesting. Hopefully they won’t nest where the careless will assemble, especially the careless who also travel about with dogs. If we and they are lucky, around the 4th of July we’ll see one or two chicks riding on their parent’s back.

We took pity on the Baltimore Oriole trying to feed at our hummingbird feeder. That didn’t work out well. Steve put out an orange. It can’t seem to get enough of it and keeps coming back for more.


And, speaking of the hummers, they are back and they are hungry.

Nectar guzzlers


This is MIchigan’s only hummingbird. Well, not the only one literally, of course. This is a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Pretty, teeny, and every centimeter feisty. Yesterday a female was sitting on a perch daintily sipping our nectar. A male arrived and she tolerated him. With Michigan so slow to warm this year, and the late bloom of our flowers, they’ve been after anything red. One dive-bombed our red and white cooler while the hatch of the car was open. Another ventured into the garage to check out another red piece of plastic.

Here’s one of the males. They aren’t seen as often at our feeders.


While I was still marveling that the pair wasn’t doing any aerial dueling, a second female arrived on the scene.The female-first-on-the-scene did the hummingbird equivalent of a battle between rival gang members. She sprung up from the feeder perch and began to go at the other female in long, low, u-shaped swoops. During one of the swoops she must have actually struck her rival because the second female sat on the deck rail–unheard of–for a few minutes as if shaking off the effects. She flew off and the female-in-charge returned to her evening meal.

Baltimore Orioles are preferring the hummingbird feeder to the navel orange we’ve halved and hung on a feeder pole. They’ve picked at the orange but are apparently preferring the sweet liquid this weekend.

The Orioles approach cautiously.


They settle on the perch, spilling some nectar from the feeder when it’s filled.


Then they sort of do the bird equivalent of a forward bend and drink. But in between sips, it’s like their head is on a swivel. I think they are on the watch for the female hummers, who seem to have no sense of their size relative to other birds.


What Oriole Wants, Oriole Gets

This Baltimore Oriole was hungry enough and curious enough to head to the seed block. Even chasing away the full-of-himself Bluejay. The weather’s been cold and rainy, with flower production seriously delayed. Steve felt sorry for the Oriole, knowing what he really wanted. So. Out came the sliced orange. Oriole is the Oriole equivalent of happy now. With an entire case of Costco seedless oranges on hand, we can be generous.