Late April allows us opportunities to witness the spring migration of birds. One species to be on the lookout for in your yard and around your neighborhood in April and May if there are deciduous trees is the yellow-bellied sapsucker, which migrates anywhere from the southern U.S. to Central America. While most woodpecker species stay in our area year-round, the yellow-bellied sapsucker passes through on its way to nesting grounds in northern Michigan and throughout Canada. I observed two of these birds this week feeding on a large flowering maple tree. The birds spent about thirty minutes passing from branch to branch while feeding on insects. The birds get their name from their pale yellow (even white) underparts, but they can be identified by their barred black and white back, vertical white wing patches, stoat bill, and red crown. Males also have a red throat. The other part of their name, sapsucker, comes from their feeding habit of drilling holes into trees to lap up the sap with their tongues. They also eat the insects attracted to nutritious, sweet sap. Other species also benefit from these sapwells. Hummingbirds and other birds, bats, and even porcupines will visit sapwells for a meal. Another sign of sapsuckers are organized rows of sapwells on deciduous trees. Their favorites include birches, maples, and hickories. You can also hear these birds by their mewing (almost catlike) calls or their stuttered drumming sound. The Nature Center building will be closed until further notice. The trails will remain open and free during this time. Online donations are being accepted. Check www.sarett.com for activities being planned to help the community practice social distancing in the out-of-doors.
Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) still is not putting out a fishing report due to restrictions of the COVID-19 and workers needed for other activities related to it. They will begin to put out a report when possible. The unpopular ban on motorized boat use and no charter or guide fishing has put a large barrier on spring angling. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports anglers are plying their trade by fishing from shore and piers when possible. At South Haven anglers were getting Coho off the pier in good numbers before Lake Michigan got dirty and slowed the bite down. The farther south along Michigan’s shore line, the better the fishing is. River fishing is very slow, and Allegan Dam is still closed. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake located by Coloma reports a steady stream of anglers going out on the local inland lakes when the weather permits. Some anglers are using kayaks, rowboats, and canoes to get out on the water and fish, but most are fishing from docks and shore. The Second-High Water Summit webinar, to focus on shoreline processes, permitting will be held on April 28, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. The webinar is open to the public, community officials, private property owners and businesses affected by the Great Lakes shoreline erosion, but limited to 1,000 attendees. Michigan’s water levels are at their highest in more than two decades. For more information on high water levels and resources such as fact sheets, FAQs, a link to the MiWaters permit portal, safety information and resources for permit holders, go to Michigan.gov/EGLEHighWater. Hunting Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent executive orders aimed at protecting public health and safety, the DNR is encouraging turkey hunters to hunt close to home. Turkey season opened April 18. The following information will help anyone get the tag they need for their spring turkey hunt. For anyone who has purchased and possesses a 2020 spring turkey kill tag that is for an area far from home, visit Michigan.gov/HuntLocal to receive an authorization number to convert their existing tag into a Hunt 0234 tag. Hunt 0234 is a statewide hunting license valid May 1-31 for public and private lands, except public lands in Unit ZZ (southern Lower Peninsula). This license is valid to hunt Fort Custer military lands with permission. Fill out the website form, click the submit button and a unique confirmation number will be assigned. Write this number on the current 2020 spring turkey kill tag to convert that tag into a Hunt 0234 tag. This will allow hunting in an area closer to home. For those who were successfully drawn for a spring 2020 turkey license that is a long distance from their home and have not already purchased a turkey license, they don’t have to purchase the license that was awarded in the drawing. Instead, they can search for leftover licenses and easily complete a purchase online. All turkey hunting rules and regulations apply. Please see the 2020 Spring Turkey Digest or visit Michigan.gov/Turkey.