Audio Guide to Spring: May 29

May 29, 2020

Does leave their fawns for long periods while they feed. Later, they return to nurse the fawns. People think the fawns are abandoned, but they are not.
Credit USDA NRCS Montana

It’s the peak of fawning season in Northern Michigan.

Steve Griffith, wildlife biologist with DNR, says right about now does are leaving their groups to find secluded places to give birth.  “As soon as the fawn can manage to walk, she’ll move them to a new spot and hide them.  And she’ll leave them for 8, 10, 12 hours at a time, feeding, but feeding close by, then she’ll come back and nurse. People think they’re abandoned. Very likely not the case. The mother is nearby.”

Steve says those white spots on fawns are a kind of camouflage so they blend in with the forest floor that’s filled with white flowers about this time of year.  Flowers like foam flower, baneberry, false Solomon’s seal, and Canada mayflower.

Hummingbirds are showing up in Northern Michigan and will soon be around in large numbers.

The only eastern hummingbird is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  They have an iridescent ruby throat, white chest, and green sides. They eat lots of insects, actually.  But they are attracted to a standard hummingbird feeder with white sugar dissolved in water. Doug Cook is with the Benzie Audubon Society: “The more feeders you’re willing to set up and take care of, the more hummingbirds you’ll get. You’ll also have a war on your hands because they’re very aggressive about defending their territory, and a feeder will become part of their territory.” 

Midges are abundant in May. Midge is a general term for any small fly. Most Michigan midges don't bite, they're just annoying.
Credit University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Station

And finally, those clouds of insects you might be seeing at the beach, those are midges. 

Duke Elsner, an entomologist formerly with the MSU Extension office in Grand Traverse County, says the end of May is prime time for midges to emerge. 

“The vast majority of midges do not bite. They’re just annoying.  There is one or two species of biting midge. They are usually a lakeshore, sandy area type creature, but they’re not a big deal in Northern Michigan.”

Midges are a source of food for birds migrating along Lake Michigan and also for Lake Whitefish which have come to rely on midges as other sources of food in the lakes have disappeared because of all the invasive species.  For more information about midges see https://uwm.edu/field-station/midges/

That’s the Guide for this week.  I’m Peter Payette.  I get help from Leslie Hamp, Larry Mawby and Cheryl Bartz.

Let us know what you’re seeing out there or looking for or what you have a question about.  Give us a call on our listener comment line.  That’s 231/276-4444.