Red-tailed Hawks Deserve More Attention

Naturalist and wildlife photographer par excellence Stan Tekiela shares with us his observations about red-tailed hawks. Often it is the common critters that go unnoticed or at least unappreciated. After all, when was the last time you noticed a house sparrow or pigeon? How about an Eastern chipmunk or gray squirrel? I’ve always maintained that we see woodpeckers do incredibly amazing things, such as landing on vertical surfaces without slipping, nearly every day, but we don’t give it a second thought. It’s unbelievable that these woodpeckers fly up to a tree trunk and stick to it like Velcro. The woodpeckers act as if gravity doesn’t exist. All other birds are landing on horizontal branches.  Recently, while leading a birding trip to see migrating hawks in northern Minnesota, I got to thinking about all the red-tailed hawks we were seeing. This is one of those hawks that can be very common in both...

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Happy National Maple Syrup Day

Carrot cake is Corinne Kozlak’s favorite and the only type of cake she craves. Today, in honor of National Maple Syrup Day, the author of Maple Syrup: 40 Tried & True Recipes, shares with us her recipe. INGREDIENTS FOR THE CAKE 21⁄2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon cinnamon1⁄2 teaspoon salt 1⁄2 cup coconut oil3⁄4 cup maple syrup1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract 3 eggs 1 cup finely grated carrots 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained1 cup shredded coconut 1 cup chopped walnuts  INGREDIENTS FOR THE FROSTING 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened and at room temperature 1⁄2 cup butter, softened and at room temperature 1⁄4 cup maple syrup 2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)  HOW TO Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 2 (8- or 9-inch) round cake pans with nonstick baking spray. Line with a parchment paper round.  To make cake, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand-up electric mixer, combine...

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The Eastern Gray Squirrel—A Fascinating Little Fellow

Stan Tekiela often enjoys the more common side of nature—that which we see every day in our backyards and parks but that may go unnoticed. A prime example is the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), which is likely the most common squirrel species in the United States and Canada. No matter if you live in the city, suburbs, or out in the boondocks, chances are you have gray squirrels running around. Eastern gray squirrels There are many different kinds of squirrels in the United States and Canada. For example, we have eight different species of “tree” squirrels. As the name implies, these squirrels live in trees and the eastern gray squirrel is in this group. We have 56 species of “ground” squirrels, which includes chipmunks and prairie dogs. And we have three species of “flying” squirrels. These are nocturnal squirrels that also live in the trees but are obviously different from other...

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Holiday Dinner Recipes Sure to Impress

Over the past several years, Corrine Kozlak has immersed herself in collecting, testing, and tasting many maple syrup recipes. The 40 tried-and-true ones in her Maple Syrup cookbook have been approved by friends and family as winning holiday dinner recipes. In today’s post she shares three recipes with you, our readers. How about Maple-Basted Roasted Turkey Breast, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and a side of Maple-Bacon Brussels Sprouts for your new favorite holiday dinner recipes? Maple-Basted Roasted Turkey Breast This is really good when you are hungry for roast turkey but don’t want to make a whole bird.  INGREDIENTS Turkey 1 cup water or apple juice 1 (7- to 8-pound) whole bone-in turkey breast* Salt, to taste 1⁄2 apple, cut in half 1⁄2 onion, peeled and quartered 1 stalk celery, halved 1 sprig fresh rosemary 1 sprig fresh thyme Glaze 1⁄2 cup butter 1⁄2 cup maple syrup Preheat oven to 350F. Line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil. Pour 1 cup water in bottom of pan. To make...

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Bird migration

Stan Tekiela Talks to Us About Bird Migration

I would love to write a nice little article about bird migration. Something short and snappy and to the point, but when I reflect on how I would do this, I shudder at the thought. You see, bird migration on the surface seems simple enough. Birds fly south in winter and north in spring. But this is so overly simplistic and doesn’t even begin to encapsulate the grandeur and complexity of bird migration. Greater white-fronted geese in flight Recently I’ve been out promoting my new book Bird Migration: The Incredible Journeys of North American Birds from Adventure Publications. Almost always, someone asks when did bird migration start or why did migration start? Of course, it is impossible to answer this question because birds have been migrating for millions of years, long before people came around. However, we do have some theories to answer these seemingly simple questions. So, let me try to...

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A Brand-New Maple Syrup Cookbook and a Sweet Giveaway

Easy to find and easy to make, maple syrup is one of nature’s sweetest treats. It is widely known as a sugary breakfast condiment for pancakes, waffles, and more―and it is enjoyed daily in homes across the country. Maple Syrup: 40 Tried & True Recipes is a cookbook by Corrine Kozlak that features 40 easy recipes geared for busy cooks who enjoy great flavor.  We are excited about the release of Maple Syrup, and we are offering a GIVEAWAY. Enter for a chance to win a copy of the book and a bottle of Grade A Pure Maple Syrup. But first, here’s more about the cookbook. Corrine has compared, tested, and tasted every recipe. From drinks and desserts to breads, meats, and vegetables, the options presented here will become instant family favorites, prepared time and again. Kevin Ramos’s full-color photography of every dish adds to the enjoyment of cooking. Plus, “do-it-yourself” instructions for maple...

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The American Black Bear, a Favorite Subject for Wildlife Photographers

Each year, Stan Tekiela leads wildlife photo tours. Dozens of photographers from around the world spend anywhere from a few hours up to a week alongside him, pursuing a number of natural subjects. One of Stan’s favorite subjects is, without doubt, the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Stan tells us all about this year’s Black Bear encounters. The Black Bear is unique to North America and is not closely related to the other two bear species found here, the Brown Bear and Polar Bear. There are eight species of bears in the world: the American Black Bear, Brown Bear, Polar Bear, Asian Black Bear, Giant Panda, Sloth Bear, Sun Bear, and Spectacled Bear. The American Black Bear is the smallest of our three bears in North America, but they are the most widely distributed. They are found in good numbers from Florida up to New England. They are also found across the...

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Little Ohio

Celeryville, There’s Something About the Land

Henry Johnson Brings a New Community to Huron County  The Willard area of Huron County, Ohio, has always been known for its swamp-like conditions. It is marked by a dark, wet soil known as black peat or, more simply, “muck.” In the mid-1890s, a local man named Henry Johnson realized that this soil, a plentiful resource in what was then known as Willard Marsh, was perfect for growing celery and similar vegetables. Johnson didn’t have the expertise to maintain Willard Marsh, but he was pretty certain he knew who might. Celery requires consistently damp conditions as it grows or it yields the wrong taste and consistency when harvested. The muck of the Willard Marsh could provide suitable conditions, as long as it could be drained during the autumn wet season.  As 1895 came to an end, Henry Johnson headed north to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where a Dutch community had formed. The Dutch were well...

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