Audio Guide to Spring: May 22

May 22, 2020

Jack-in-the-pulpit plants are unfolding in deciduous woodlands.
Credit Bill Erickson

On the Guide this week:

Kirtland’s Warblers will be showing up in the jack pine forests around Gaylord and Grayling this week.  There’s been good news about this bird in recent years. If you went back to 1971, there were just 167 pairs of Kirtland’s Warblers in the world.  In 2017, there were 2,000 pairs. That allowed it to be reclassified as a threatened species rather than an endangered species. 

And Brian Allen of Saving Birds Thru Habitat says they’ve found that Kirtland’s Warblers can survive in thick red pine plantations, “That’s something new and that’s good for the Forest Service because they can make more money from the sale of Red Pine than Jack Pine. So they’re hoping they can get real dense red pine forests with productive Kirtland’s warblers’ nests too now.”  For more information check &

Jack-in-the pulpits are now unfolding their leaves in shady deciduous woodlands. They’re easily recognized by their form, a little tube with a canopy on top—that’s the pulpit.  Inside the pulpit is a slender club—the “jack”.  At its base are the true flowers.

Something interesting about Jack-in-the pulpit plants: they can be female one year and male the next. Paula Dreeszen, Volunteer Preserve Steward for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, explains:  “A male plant takes less energy.  There’s only one leaf. It doesn’t have to produce berries, so if the root system has not so much energy it’ll be a male that year and then it might build up its stores and the following year be a female.  Perhaps we should call them ‘Jack-in-the-pulpits’ and ‘Jill-in-the-pulpits.’”

Mature steelhead is released back into the water in spring 2020.
Credit Bill Wieske

The Michigan DNR is in the process of stocking 6 million fish in waters all around the state.  That’s a lot fewer fish than would be stocked in a typical year.

Ed Eisch, Statewide Fish Production Program Manager for the Department of Natural Resources, manages fish production for Michigan.  “Our total number of fish we stock in a normal year, a non-covid year, is somewhere between 20 and 30 million,” Eisch says.

The big difference this year is walleye.  They couldn’t collect any walleye eggs this spring because of the pandemic.  And some years, they’ll hatch and stock as many as 20 million walleye.  For more fish stocking data visit

Listener comment

And finally, we had a great note from Old Mission Peninsula last week after our show.  We explained how trillium and other wild flowers are spread across forest floors.  They’re moved by ants.

Mary Manner wrote to us about trillium. She said, “This year I'm finding them popping up around several decaying stumps in my back yard, and I found that curious.  Now I know why - the decaying stumps are habitat for the ants who've planted the trillium seeds. Mystery solved - thank you!”

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I’m Peter Payette.  I get help each week from Larry Mawby, Cheryl Bartz and Leslie Hamp.