Last weekend we came across a fascinating fungus by our barn. It was fruiting on the exposed root of an elm tree killed by Dutch elm disease. The fungus had the shape of a saddle. I decided to identify it and guess what its name was? Dryad’s saddle or pheasant’s back mushroom! The name "dryad's saddle" refers to creatures in Greek mythology called dryads who could conceivably fit and ride on this saddle mushroom, whereas the pheasant’s back analogy derives from the pattern of colors on the bracket matching that of a pheasant’s back. Both names seem appropriate for this neat looking mushroom that fruits commonly in spring on a variety of hardwood stumps, logs, and roots causing a white pocket rot.
There have been several reports of fawns being born the last few days. If you find an abandoned fawn, please leave it alone. Most likely it is not abandoned, and the mother is nearby feeding and will return to the fawn periodically to feed it. Bird migration is pretty much over, many birds are already nesting, and some even hatched out young already. Just look at the baby Canada geese walking and swimming around with their parents almost wherever there is water. Also, batches of wood ducks have hatched and have been jumping out of their nest boxes and tree cavities and heading for water with their mother. We observed a fun incident with our local male pileated woodpecker. It was perched on a tree when a ruby-throated hummingbird was attracted to its bright red head. The woodpecker ducked at the ‘threat’ of this tiny bird coming directly at him. I also had a close encounter with a hummingbird that checked out my bright red Wisconsin Badger shirt! This same woodpecker has been drumming on our metal air vents and down spouts alarming us and alerting all other pileated males that “this is my territory and to stay away”! Rosemary Plant spotted an eastern kingbird and a now rare for our area eastern meadow lark at her place west of Fifield. Bill Custer saw an indigo bunting out at Pike Lake as did we at our Nature Education Center in Fifield. Tree frogs have been singing on warm humid nights as are a few spring peepers. I spotted my first monarch butterfly on, May 22. According to newly released data, the population of monarch butterflies in Mexico wintering sites decreased by 26 percent over last winter. It has been amazing how the Northwoods fully leafed out in just a few warm, humid days along with the hatching of millions of mosquitoes. Now we have freeze warnings for the next two or three mornings. Only in northern Wisconsin!
The private Nature Education Center in Fifield operated by Tom & Mary Lou Nicholls is open seasonally by appointment only.