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Manatees, Florida’s Gentle Giants

In today’s post, naturalist and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela shares with us his knowledge of Manatees, Florida’s gentle giants. I am continuing with my exploration of the wonders of Florida by taking a closer look at the Florida Manatee. Also known as the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) or the Sea Cow, the manatee was one of the original 78 species that were included on the Endangered Species list when the Endangered Species Preservation Act was first passed into law in 1966. The Florida Manatee is one of two subspecies of the West Indian Manatee. The other subspecies is the Antillean Manatee, which occurs from Brazil to Mexico. The Florida Manatee is found along the Atlantic coast from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, and also in the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Texas. However, the main concentration is found in and around Florida. Manatees are large marine mammals, with adults weighting...

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Ohio’s Top Spots for Day Trips

If you’ve ever asked, “What should we do today?” then you’ll love Ohio Day Trips by Theme. This comprehensive guide to the Buckeye State is jam-packed with hundreds―yes, hundreds―of Ohio’s top spots for fun and entertainment. Ohioans believe they are at the heart of it all, and that’s especially true for outdoor adventure. From the twisting motorcycle roads of southern Ohio to the Muskingum River Water Trail and the Ohio to Erie Bicycle Trail, daytrippers have no lack of choices for adventure. Hiking at more than 70 state parks and sailing Lake Erie are also popular options. Whether a daytripper prefers the adrenaline rush of a zipline canopy tour in a state forest or a sedate wagon ride through The Wilds animal conservation center, Ohio can satisfy every outdoor adventure wish. Take a simple day trip, or string together a longer vacation of activities that catch your interest. Destinations in the book are organized by...

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Mackinac Island—A Perfect Place to Take the Grandchildren

Mike Link and Kate Crowley, authors of Grandparents Michigan Style, take us on a tour of Mackinac Island. Here are their recommendations for some great sightseeing with grandchildren. Back in 1898, the introduction of cars on Mackinac (pronounced “mak-i-naw”) Island scared the horses and disturbed the peace so much that they were permanently banned on the island. That alone will impress your grandkids when they visit the island with you. Travel is by foot, bike, or horse-drawn carriage. It is a wondrous return to a nearly forgotten time. Some 490 people live on the island year-round, many descendants of the Anishinaabe people who originally occupied this hump of limestone between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Their name for the island was “Michilimackinac,” which meant “land of the large turtle.” In the late 1600s, the Europeans landed and Father Marquette set up a mission for his Huron followers; then in the late 1700s, the British moved from the fortification across the strait to the...

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A Visit to the Split Rock Lighthouse

In todays post Kathryn and William Mayo, authors of 61 Gems on Highway 61, take us on a visit to the Split Rock Lighthouse and State Park. Built in 1910 out of a need made apparent during the infamous and devastating Mataafa Storm of 1905, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park now draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. For a small fee you can take a guided tour right up to the top of the lighthouse and see the light that shines 20-some miles out to sea firsthand. It is now lit only on rare occasions, including every November 10, when it shines out as a beacon and as a memorial to the sailors who lost their lives on the Edmund Fitzgerald. To witness the lighting of this breathtakingly beautiful lighthouse is a moving and almost spiritual experience. Split Rock Lighthouse, because of its stark beauty and purposeful stance, is a favorite of calendar makers and has even been seen on...

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Birding, a Fun Activity for the Entire Family

Michigan is a fantastic place to see all sorts of birds, and birding is a wonderful yearlong activity the entire family can enjoy. There are more than 400 species of birds in Michigan, making it one of the top places to watch an incredible variety of birds. There is a wide range of habitats across Michigan, and each supports different kinds of birds. The major habitats include forest and aquatic environments, both of which are widespread in the state. Michigan has lots of deciduous forest habitat where leaves fall off the trees each autumn. Birds that prefer this habitat are often bright and colorful, and they build nests in leafy trees. Michigan also has a fair amount of coniferous forest. The trees here are evergreen, with green needles staying on the branches throughout the year. Conifers attract other types of birds, many of which migrate out of Michigan in winter. In addition, there are a lot of ponds, rivers, and lakes, not to mention the biggest of all lakes in...

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Discover 61 Gems on Highway 61

Highway 61, from Duluth, Minnesota, to the Canadian border, is peppered with tourist hotspots that Minnesotans love. But even the most devout North Shore traveler doesn’t know Lake Superior like William and Kathryn Mayo do. These explorers and residents of the region outline the best sites that you may not know about in this revised and updated edition of the popular guide to the best sites and experiences along one of the state’s most scenic roads. The entertaining book spotlights 61 of the North Shore’s hidden treasures and tourist favorites, offering complete site details and need-to-know information, such as driving directions, accessibility, and fun facts. Full-color photographs and maps further enhance the usefulness of this handy guidebook, so get 61 Gems on Highway 61 for your next North Shore adventure. With this book in hand, you’ll experience the beautiful region in a whole new way. About the authors: William Mayo is a...

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Diver, Dipper, Bobber, Blinker

Naturalist and wildlife photographer Stan Tekiela shares with us the astonishing behavior of the American Dipper. Find out more about this aquatic songbird. At first look, the American Dipper might not seem like a very interesting bird. It’s a stocky, dull gray bird with a short black bill. While it may appear unimpressive, just watch it a few minutes longer and you will appreciate this astonishing little bird. The dipper is North America’s only aquatic songbird. Acting more like a waterbird, it lives next to fast-running mountain streams in western states and northward through British Columbia into Alaska. It sings a melodious song, but it’s best known for diving and dipping into swift, cold, clear-water streams in search of aquatic insects, including the larvae of mayflies, caddis flies, dragonflies, and damselflies. It also eats worms, snails, small fish, and fish eggs. Amazingly, this songbird plunges headfirst into a rapid, frigid stream and completely submerges. Using its wings as if flying underwater, it pushes along with its feet,...

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The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Michigan

Stan Tekiela’s famous Birds of Michigan Field Guide has been delighting bird-watchers for more than 15 years. Now, the award-winning author has created a perfect identification guide for children! The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Michigan features 100 of the most common and important birds to know, with species organized by color for ease of use. The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Michigan is a fun, easy-to-use guide for anyone interested in seeing and identifying birds. As a child, the author spent hours of enjoyment watching birds come to a wooden feeder that his father built in their backyard. They were the only family in the neighborhood who fed birds, and they became known as the nature family. Do you see a yellow bird and don’t know what it is? Go to the yellow section to find out. Each bird gets a beautiful full-color photograph and a full page of neat-to-know information―such as field marks, favorite hangouts,...

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