Birds of Florida: Spoonbill

Birds of Florida Amaze Kids and Parents Alike

Wildlife photographer and naturalist Stan Tekiela makes his case on why Florida is a fantastic place to see all sorts of birds. Let’s hear from him! More than 500 species of birds are found in Florida! That makes it one of the top states where you watch an incredible variety of birds. There are marvelous habitats in Florida that are perfect for birds. Each habitat supports different kinds. Ocean surrounds most of the state. Beaches and rocky shores are wonderful places to see a wide variety of shorebirds, such as Brown Pelicans, and wading birds, such as Snowy Egrets. Florida also has extensive forests, which are home to many smaller songbirds, like Brown Nuthatches. The state has lots of deciduous forest habitats. Birds that prefer this habitat are often bright and colorful, and they build nests in leafy trees. In addition, Florida has a lot of ponds, rivers, and lakes. These fresh-water environments are home to Ring-necked Ducks, Roseate...

Read More

Allen, Michigan—An Important Crossroads

In her book Little Michigan, Kathryn Houghton takes a nostalgic look at Michigan’s smallest towns; today, she takes us to Allen, the Antiques Capital of the World. The town built its first high school in 1869. Though the building burned down in 1913, the community came together to approve the building of a new school within a few weeks of the fire. First built in 1879, the Robert and Barbara Watkins Home still stands in Allen. The house has recently undergone extensive restoration to ensure that it continues to stand in Allen. Allen, though a small community of less than 200 people, is a historically important place. Before European settlers came to the area, the town’s present location was the intersection of two main trails, the Great Trail and the Sauk Trail. The American Indians called the area where the town now sits Mascootahsiac, roughly translated as Sand Prairie Creek. The area was first surveyed...

Read More
Birds of Florida: Spoonbill

The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Florida

Stan Tekiela’s famous Birds of Florida Field Guide has been delighting bird-watchers for years. Now, the award-winning author has written the perfect bird identification guide for children! The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Florida features 87 of the most common and important birds to know, with species organized by color for ease of use. 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, calls/songs, a range map, and Stan’s cool facts―that make identification a snap. Fun bonus activities for the whole family, like building a birdhouse and preparing your own bird food, make this a must-have beginner’s guide to bird-watching in the Sunshine State! The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Florida is an easy-to-use guide for anyone interested in seeing and identifying birds. As a child, Stan Tekiela...

Read More

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken Hot Dish

Here is a fabulous recipe for a baked macaroni and cheese with chicken hot dish from Theresa Millang and Karen Corbett’s book The Great Minnesota Hot Dish. As the temperatures fall, hot dishes are the ideal way to lure your family to the the table. Hot dish is a tradition throughout the Midwest, but, in Minnesota, it’s legendary. In print since the year 2000, Theresa Millang’s book has been the go-to source for this comfort food for years. Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken Hot Dish Ingredients 8 ounces elbow macaroni 2 tablespoons butter 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes 1 pound Velveeta 1/2 cup sour cream 2/3 cup half-and-half 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2–4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken 2 cups Cheddar cheese Preheat oven to 400 ̊. Cook macaroni; drain. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, and cook until liquid is evaporated. Shred Velveeta; stir into tomato mixture until cheese is...

Read More
Petoskey stone

Petoskey, Michigan a Rock Collectors Paradise

Dan R. Lynch, author of Petoskey Stone: Finding, Identifying, and Collecting Michigan’s Favorite Fossil, takes us on a visit to the town of Petoskey. Along the way he tells us where to look, from obvious spots like Lake Michigan beaches and Petoskey State Park to lesser known locales, including gravel pits and roadbeds. The town of Petoskey is a resort community that enjoys ample tourism, largely focused on the area’s natural beauty, including the beaches where Petoskey stones can be found. Historic downtown Petoskey, called the Gaslight District, is a hub for many of the smaller communities in northwestern Michigan, so Petoskey is still an important center for regional trade. Tourists and collectors snap up every available Petoskey stone find, as wind and waves reveal them in and near Petoskey. However, that is not to say Petoskey stones are rare—on the contrary, Petoskey stone is still abundant throughout the Little Traverse Bay region. But savvy...

Read More

King Bolete: A Most Sought-after Wild Mushrooms

As the name King Bolete suggests, Boletus edulis is one of the most sought-after wild mushrooms. This is the mushroom that Europeans call the Porcini or Cep—and many experts believe that the true European Boletus edulis is not found in North America. Instead, there are most likely many different species across the country that many people simply refer to as Boletus edulis due to their similarities and popularity as a good edible. From above, this brown-capped mushroom looks like a typical cap-with-stem shape, but turning it over reveals a spongy pore surface. This is composed of a series of tubes that hold the spores. It is the feature that most strongly defines the group of mushrooms called, in general, Boletes, a term used to refer to many cap-and-stem mushrooms with pores. The King Bolete mushroom grows from the soil, singly or in loose groups, in association with trees; they are generally found...

Read More

The Meadow Vole, a Stout Little Critter

In this week’s post, wildlife photographer and naturalist Stan Tekiela introduces us to the meadow vole, a stout little critter with a distinctive short, blunt nose. If you have followed any of my columns over the years, you no doubt know that I love all animals, from the tiny shrew to the mighty moose and everything in between. I find fascination and amazement in all the creatures, not just some of the cool ones. Recently, I was photographing a critter, and it occurred to me that, though this animal is incredibly common, I am willing to bet that most have never seen one, let alone know anything about it. It is the meadow vole (Mocrotus pennsylvanicus). Meadow voles are different from mice and shrews in so many ways. Voles are stout little critters with a distinctive short, blunt nose, unlike mice and shrews, which have long, pointed snouts. They have thick, dark-brown fur;...

Read More

The California Condor: Rare but too Huge to Miss

The California Condor is perhaps one of the most endangered birds in North America. Considered a new world vulture, it is the largest land bird in the continent. Soaring on huge wings that stretch out 9–10 feet, the condor looks more like a small airplane than a bird. Nearly driven into extinction, the last remaining 27 condors were captured in 1987, removed from the wild, and put into breeding programs. The individuals that were released back into the wild were tagged. Unfortunately, condors 6–10 years and older are the only ones that will breed, and because they produce only one egg every other year, this makes for a very slow recovery program. Even now, the California Condor remains one of the rarest birds in North America. The California Condor soars over only a tiny fraction of its original habitat. Starting in 1991, it was successfully reintroduced into northern Arizona and southern Utah, including...

Read More