Where to Find Wild Cranberries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan

Teresa Marrone, author of Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, shares with us where to look for wild cranberries. HABITAT: Three species of wild cranberry are native to our region: small cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus), large cranberry (V. macrocarpon) and northern mountain cranberry (V. vitis-idaea var. minus). All are found in wet, acidic areas such as sphagnum bogs, swampy spots, and fens. GROWTH: This ground-hugging trailing plant is technically a subshrub, but it’s viselike in growth habit. Stems are slender and hairless. Cranberry plants often take root at the leaf nodes, forming dense mats. LEAVES: Smooth, hairless, leathery evergreen leaves grow alternately on the slender stems. Leaves of small cranberry are less than 3⁄8 inch long, lance-shaped with pointed tips, and white underneath; edges are rolled. Leaves of large cranberry are 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 inch long, narrowly oval with blunt tips, and pale underneath, but not as white as those of small cranberry; edges are flat or very slightly rolled. Leaves of...

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Millions of Birds Gather in South Central Nebraska

Stan Tekiela shares with us the amazing natural phenomena happening each spring in South Central Nebraska, when millions of snow geese—and half a million sandhill cranes—gather. A magnificent natural event happens each spring along a very special river in South Central Nebraska. The Platte River starts out as two smaller branches, the northern branch originating in the mountains of Wyoming and the southern branch in the mountains of Colorado. Separately, these tributaries carry snowmelt from last winter’s storms, high up in the Rocky Mountains. On their own they are magnificent rivers, but, when they join together in western Nebraska to form the Platte River, they become a life force that supports millions. [caption id="attachment_51638" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Snow Geese formation[/caption] For at least 10,000 years, this river has hosted millions of migrating birds each spring. The river was once super wide and shallow. Early pioneers described the river as a mile wide and an...

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How to Forage for Wild Strawberries

Today, Teresa Marrone, author of Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, shares with us where to look for wild strawberries. HABITAT: Prefers well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Often found in rocky areas alongside rural roads, streams, and lakes, as well as in open woodlands, disturbed areas, meadows, and fields. GROWTH: Two types of native wild strawberries inhabit our region: the Virginia or wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), and the less-common woodland strawberry (F. vesca). Both are erect, leafy plants 4 to 8 inches high, with white, five-petaled flowers. Because both types spread by aboveground runners (horizontal stems, also called stolons), it’s not uncommon to find a good-sized patch of wild strawberries. LEAVES: Coarsely toothed trifoliate leaves grow at the ends of a long, fuzzy stem. The terminal tooth of a woodland strawberry leaf is longer than the surrounding teeth, while it is shorter than the surrounding teeth on a Virginia strawberry, helping distinguish the two varieties. FRUIT: The...

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Choosing the Bird Feeder that is Right for You!

Stan Tekiela, author of The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Minnesota, tells us how to attract birds to your garden, with the right bird feeder. To get more birds to visit your yard, an easy way to invite them is to put out a bird feeder. Bird feeders are often as unique as the birds themselves, so the types of feeders you use really depends on the kinds of birds you’re trying to attract. Hopper feeders are often wooden or plastic. Designed to hold a large amount of seeds, they often have a slender opening along the bottom, which dispenses the seeds. Birds land along the sides and help themselves to the food. Hopper feeders work well as main feeders in conjunction with other types of feeders. They are perfect for offering several kinds of seed mixes for cardinals, finches, nuthatches, chickadees, and more. Tube feeders with large seed ports and multiple perches are very popular. Often mostly plastic, they tend to be...

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Nearly 200 Wild Berries and Fruits in One Book

The revised and updated second edition to Teresa Marrone’s Wild Berries & Fruits Field Guide of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan is the perfect guide to help you identify the wild fruits and berries in your neck of the woods. In print and a regional standard since 2009, the second edition of this beloved book contains updated text, new photos, and more essential information from expert naturalist and author/photographer Teresa Marrone. The book has features for foragers of all stripes: The introduction serves as a wonderful primer to the basics of botany, providing a bounty of information about leaf form and arrangement, the many different types of fruit structures, and the other characteristics you’ll need to know before heading out into the wild. It also contains a ripening calendar that helps you know when to look for your favorite edible wild berries and fruits to typically ripen. Intuitively organized by color of the...

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The Kids’ Guide to Birds of Minnesota

Stan Tekiela’s famous Birds of Minnesota 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 Minnesota features 100 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, favorite hangouts, 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 participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, make this a must-have beginner’s guide to bird-watching in the Land of 10,000 Lakes! About the author: Naturalist, wildlife photographer, and writer Stan Tekiela is the author...

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Little Michigan: Tiny Places, Big Stories

In her book, Little Michigan, writer and historian Kathryn Houghton shares the stories of 100 tiny Michigan towns, all with a population of fewer than 600 people. Scattered across the state from Copper Country in the far northern Upper Peninsula to tiny towns on the Lower Peninsula that are home to orchards and farms, Kathryn recounts the history of each place, including the unique, the funny, and the downright strange aspects of each town’s past and its continued success today. And there’s plenty of history to tell: from Civil War stories—Michigan contributed more than 90,000 men to the war effort—to one town that directly inspired a major Hollywood film (Anatomy of a Murder), these tiny towns are replete with stories that’ll delight and surprise. Each town’s account includes color photos of the town today, interesting stories, and features about its past and present, as well as a synopsis of its history, past...

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Taking the Ferry Across Lake Michigan

Join Mike Link and Kate Crowley, authors of Grandparents Michigan Style, as they take us on a ferry ride across Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan forms one border of the state, but it is also something of a roadblock. Traveling to Wisconsin means traveling around the lake, and that takes a lot of time (especially if you have to go through Chicago). But there is another option. Besides sunbathing, swimming, tossing pebbles in the surf, watching storms, and fishing—you could just hop on a ferry and go across the lake. We do not have a culture of cruise boats in the Great Lakes, but we have a wonderful history of working boats. Your grandchildren have heard about pirates, explorers, and sailors. They know the romance of the sea from film and story, so how about giving them a little sea time yourself? The Lake Express Carferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee is only two and a half hours long each way. It is a modern high-speed ferry with seats...

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