This morning, I saw a hawk swoop low across a courtyard at WMU. It flew out of sight but I heard a thud. It had crashed into a glass door at Dunbar Hall & when I took this picture I thought the poor bird was dead. But, almost immediately its eyes flickered and then fully opened. A few seconds later it flew up and landed in typical hawk pose. It looked a bit confused but on its way to recovery.
This pretty bog flower is usually called the "Yellow Fringed Orchid" but our local ones are orange. A less common but more romantic name is "Bobwhite’s Moccasin." Platanthera ciliaris is its current Latin name. It's legally protected in Michigan as an endangered species.
Portage Creek Bicentennial Park is a paved trail hidden behind Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo's main commercial strip. It's a popular spot for biking, rollerblading, and strolling. Parking is available at the Portage Library, Celery Flats Interpretive Center (Garden Lane), Milham Avenue, and Kilgore Road. It's the centerpiece of Portage's bikeways.
Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the Celery Flats livery on summer weekends. [2011 update: budget problems eliminated regular rental program; group rentals, by reservation, may be available.]
Walking through the woods near the Pere Marquette river, we saw lots of these colorful little flowers. At the time, none of us recognized them, but I found them pretty easily in a fieldguide. Polygala paucifolia are commonly known as the fringed polygala, gaywing milkwort, or flowering wintergreen.
The Flowering Dogwood, Cornus florida, is one of Michigan's showiest native trees. The flowers are about the same size as trillium flowers and their blooming season overlaps. Because of its beauty and reasonable size, this native has become a popular garden tree.
Canada geese, Branta canadensis, are common in our neighborhood, but this year was the first time they nested in our backyard. Now the eggs have hatched and the babies are eagerly eating dandelions from my lawn.
Cypripedium acaule or Pink Lady's Slipper orchid, is a seasonal beauty. I usually think of them as wetland plants, but this one was growing in sandy soil on a bluff above the Pere Marquette river. Most wild orchids are protected in Michigan.
The trees are starting to leaf-out which means the early wildflower season in Kalamazoo is coming to an end. Many of the plants that were in bloom two weeks ago have finished for the year and their leaves are already fading. The trillium, phlox, anemone, and blue-eyed Mary are in full flower now, but soon the floor of the woods will be in daylong shade.
In the few weeks after winter's last killing frost and before the tree leaves form a solid canopy, ephemeral wildflowers need to sprout, bloom, get pollinated, and set seed. It's a short season, but beautiful.
Morels are one of the highlights of Spring in Michigan. These distinctive mushrooms only appear for a few weeks each year. Mothers' Day is typically the height of the season around Kalamazoo. I spotted these yesterday at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, which meant I couldn't pick them. This weekend, I'll go morel hunting with friends. Success is never guaranteed, but the walk through woods is always worthwhile. The mushrooms, prepared simply by frying in a little butter, are delicious.
This early wildflower is also known as Faun lily, Adders Tongue, and Dogtooth violet, which is probably why botanists prefer the latin name Erythronium americanum. By any name, it was really popular with the bees and beetles at the Kalamazoo Nature Center yesterday afternoon.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.