Green Gifting

The beauty of Northern Michigan was present over the Thanksgiving weekend, despite the gray, cloudy days. My family and I got back to nature, enjoying the Lake Michigan shoreline and all it had to offer. During this time of relaxation and rest, I had plenty of time to think about Christmas and the busy time that lay ahead. Each year, in trying to simplify, I focus on one thing to do better. After our reconnect with nature I have decided to Give Green this Christmas, and make sure each gift is either recycled, reusable, or contributing to the reduction of landfills.

Our first stop was the Zetterberg Preserve at the Point Betsie Lighthouse. The Nature Conservancy, which maintains the Preserve, has done a wonderful job of eradicating baby’s breath; an invasive species to the area. I was in search of the snowy owl and this seemed like the perfect place. We didn’t spot one, but enjoyed seeing the contrasting view of the lighthouse against our summer memories.

We didn’t stay long at Point Betsie. It was so cold.

Point Betsie Lighthouse Summer 2010
Point Betsie Lighthouse Summer 2010

After our trek to Point Betsie, we drove south a few miles to Elberta where we were privileged to see two bald eagles. They have made the Elberta beach area their home for a few years now, and after several years of searching, I finally spotted them.

Elberta Eagles in Treetop

Last, but not least, on an outing the day after Thanksgiving, we spotted these wild turkeys doing a victory march. Still a little skittish from their collective near death experience, they high tailed it as we began to approach.

Wil Turkeys
Wil Turkeys

Winter’s Bellwether

Winter’s bellwether arrived Sunday; the dark-eyed junco. When these little guys appear on the scene, I get a rush of excitement like a child with the first snow of winter. This is not a cliché, I’m just really that much of a bird lover.

The junco is a sparrow, but unlike those native to the US, this cute little bird has an all black back and tail with a bright white breast and underside. Spending most of the year in Canada, the junco migrates south at the first sign of cooler temperatures in the north, which means we are not far behind.

Ground eaters, juncos typically prefer to eat the nyjer that falls from my finch tube feeder – an easy task. Occasionally, I will see one fly into at tree as I did last winter, when it was apparently very attracted to a snow covered suet hanging in a cherry tree.

Can you see why he is named a ‘dark-eyed” junco?

Dark-Eyed Junco Eyeing Santa Suet

They typically hop along the mulch covered earth on the edge of the woods in groups of five or more. Their plump little bodies and movements are immediately distinguishable from a typical sparrow. Almost cartoon-like in nature, their white breast and stark contrasting black back are beautiful against the snow. They are my favorite snowbird, right up there with the cardinal.

Juvenile Cardinal in Winter