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Give Thanks. Give Back.

Posted on November 25, 2020

December 1st is #GivingTuesday!

On Thanksgiving, we take a day to give thanks for the all the things that truly matter to us. Then the holidays start in earnest, with the ensuing range of shopping-themed days to participate in, if you're so inclined. 

But mixed in with all the opportunities to consume this season offers, there is one day made for giving back: the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday. It's a day of giving to kick off the year-end charitable season. 

This year more than any other, we know we are thankful for is the abundance of natural open spaces we have available here for outdoor recreation. If you feel that way too, please consider making a gift to Chikaming Open Lands on #GivingTuesday. Your support will help ensure the these cherished natural areas remain available for future generations to enjoy just as we do!

It's Turkey Time!

Posted on November 25, 2020

This time of year, many of us are thinking about turkey as we prepare for our Thanksgiving feasts tomorrow. But there is a lot more going on with these big birds than how good they are with your favorite stuffing recipe. So let’s talk turkey! 

Here are some fun facts:

  • Around here, we see wild turkeys all the time. But at one time, the turkey population was almost wiped out. In fact, in the early 1900s, their population numbered a mere 30,000 in the entire U.S. due to overhunting and habitat destruction. Beginning in the 1940s, the remaining birds were relocated into recovering woodland areas in hopes that they would repopulate. Though slow, the process was effective. Their U.S. population is now up to about 6 million.  
  • The dangly, loose skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck is called a wattle, and the one that drapes along its beak is called a snood. These appendages change colors depending on how the bird is feeling (it's a mood snood!). When a male, or tom, is trying to attract a mate, they are bright red. When they are frightened, they take on a bluish tint. If they are ill, they become very pale.
  • We’re not sure where the tradition of having turkey on Thanksgiving originated, but it wasn’t at the original feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe at Plymouth Colony. Letters written by Pilgrims who participated in the feast state that the Wampanoags brought venison, while the pilgrims brought ducks and geese.
  • Only male turkeys gobble. Females make a clicking sound instead.
  • Turkeys have amazing eyesight, which is one of the reasons they are a challenging animal to hunt. Their vision is three times better than 20/20, and their peripheral vision is 270 degrees (ours is 180 degrees, for reference). They can also see in color.
  • They are also really fast! A turkey can run up to 25 mph—as fast as a charging elephant. 

We hope you enjoy your turkeys (or whatever you prepare for your Thanksgiving dinner) tomorrow! 

Bats! Creepy Halloween Symbol or...

Posted on October 29, 2020

Why are bats such prevalent symbols of Halloween? We mean, aside from the fact that they are kind of weird-looking, beady-eyed, rodent-like creatures with wings that flap around in the dark. OK, maybe we answered our own question there. But, despite their rather creepy appearance, they also have a really cool navigation system, and they eat a LOT of insects, like mosquitoes! Soooo… how bad could they be, really?

Answer: bats are not at all nefarious, in spite of their association with Halloween and all things scary. In fact, they are quite altruistic, even often sharing food with each other. Can't say that about Fido, can you? Let's dispel some other myths: 

Despite our off-the-cuff description above, bats are not actually rodents. They are in their own order of mammals, called Chiroptera, meaning "hand wing"... a bat's wing structure is in fact very similar to your hand.

Bats do not attack people, nor do bats get tangled up in your hair. Bats are afraid of people, and consider us predators. They certainly don't want to get close enough to you to get in your hair. 

Bats are not blind. All bats can see, and some larger varieties see three times better than humans. This, in combination with their use of echolocation, which is a sort of natural sonar they use to navigate, makes them sensory superstars.

And, keep in mind that bats are instrumental to many ecosystems. They help pollinate plants, reseed deforested land and control insect populations. In fact, one insect-eating bat consumes 2,000-6,000 insects- that's equal to their body weight in food- each night. That's a lot!! Here are some tips for attracting bats to your yard, including instructions for building a bat house. Try it and let the bats help get rid of mosquitoes and other pests in your yard the natural way!

Birds on the move!

Posted on October 16, 2020

It’s fall, which can be an exciting time for bird-lovers as a broad variety of different species travel through the area on their way south for the winter months. Bird migration is quite complex, with a mind-boggling number of factors playing into when and how they make their trips. This makes it  seem like getting to see them can amount to just happenstance; but there are some simple ways you can predict how to be in the right place at the right time. 

Fall migration begins far earlier than most people realize. In fact, some shore birds begin their journeys in late June, with the earliest land birds following close behind. August through October are the peak migration months, though some species that travel shorter distances, like sparrows, waterfowl and raptors, don’t get going until December.

Day or Night?

Most land birds traveling long distances prefer to move at night. Nocturnal travel allows them to take advantage of cooler, calmer air and to avoid raptors. They also use stars to help them navigate. But some, like the aforementioned raptors, migrate during the day. The reason they choose daytime to make their journey has to do with the way they fly. Raptors soar rather than flap their wings. This means they need the thermal energy created by the sun to help generate lift. Rarely will birds travel both day and night, unless they are faced with a large body of water, like the Gulf of Mexico, or a meteorological phenomenon, like a hurricane.

During the peak migratory months of August through October, birds are usually on the move every day, particularly as Autumn progresses and the days get shorter. But the amount of birds you might be able to see depends a lot on weather patterns… which makes sense! If there a nice tailwind, the birds will recognize that travel conditions are optimal, and move en masse.

Cold Fronts
A cold front will often be preceded by unstable air, storms, and strong winds—conditions that are not ideal for migration. These weather systems produce what birders call “fall out”, where large numbers of migrants congregate in a relatively small geographic area to wait for better conditions. Once the cold front passes, their air is generally cool and dry with favorable winds, at which point all the birds that have “fallen “out” will take flight at once. So watch the Weather Channel! A great time to get out and see some birds is the morning after a cold front passes through.

Happy Birding!

Chikaming Open Lands founders honored at outdoor ceremony

Posted on October 9, 2020

Find Article HERE.

HARBERT — The founders of Chikaming Open Lands were honored on Oct. 3 with a car parade and the presentation of framed copies of a resolution passed by the COL Board of Directors.

Peter Van Nice, Jeannie Van Nice, Steve Smith and Jean Smith were the focus of the outdoor ceremony held near their homes in Harbert.

"It was only 20 years ago, in December of 1999, that COL was formally incorporated," said David Eblen, a member of the COL board.

Over the last 20 years, he said Chikaming Open Lands has become "a significant contributor to the health and the lifestyle of this community by preserving over 2,000 acres in perpetuity."

Since there was no Barn Benefit this year, Eblen said the land conservancy wanted to honor its founders in another way.

"We are truly indebted for the wonderful foundation that you established," he told them.

At the August COL Board meeting the following resolution "In Appreciation of the Founders of Chikaming Open Lands" was passed:

The following is a true and correct restatement of certain Resolutions duly adopted by consent of the Board of Directors (“the Board”) of Chikaming Open Lands (“COL”) at a meeting held on August 21, 2020.

WHEREAS, COL was founded in The Year 1999 by our esteemed forebears, Peter Van Nice, Jeannie Van Nice, Steve Smith, and Jean Smith ( the “Founders”); and

WHEREAS, in honor and celebration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of COL, the Board had embarked on planning a big shindig with lots of speeches, toasts, and stories (the “Shindig”) which would show the Founders that we still remembered and appreciated those who started COL; and

WHEREAS, the semi-formed Shindig plans of the Board, like so many other plans in 2020, were sent to pasture (or perhaps prairie) by COVID 19 (the “Pestilence”); and

WHEREAS, the Board did not want the Founders to think their contributions to the COL would go unPreserved due to the Pestilence; be it therefore

RESOLVED, that the Founders will be formally honored for their wonderful contributions to COL when the Pestilence goes the way of the non-native, invasive plants in a COL nature preserve, and

FURTHER RESOLVED, that this Board extends its boundless thanks to the Founders for planting, cultivating, and nurturing the 20-year old which is today’s COL.