Wildlife on Silver Lake

The environs of Silver Lake host a variety of wildlife co-existing together in harmony with it's residents.  How fortunate we are to catch a glimpse of a mother Turkey with her brood, a Mallard on her nest, a family of Swans gliding gently across the lake, or the call of a loon at sunset!  To watch the otters at play in the winter, the deer at the shore for a drink, a beaver or muskrat making it's way across the water.  After sunset a bat swoops low over the water, a welcome sight as the mosquito population decreases...

Remember - Harrassing Wildlife is Illegal!   if you see someone threatening or harrassing any wildlife,  please call the DNR  24 hour Wildlife Harrassment Dispatch Center at 800-292-7800.

 

A PRECIOUS MOMENT TO BE TREASURED!

 A Mother  Turtle digs her nest and deposits her eggs, not an unusual occurance in our neighborhoods, but not always captured on camera.  (June 13, 2016)

Informational:  These mothers usually choose the gravel along the roadside and will hollow out several spots to lay and bury their eggs, usually in close proximity to the water.  If you see these little mounds please be mindful not to disturb. (The neighbor who captured this special moment placed a guard to warn drivers - thank you!)

       .... 90 days later and we have babies!  (September 3, 2016) 

 

  

    

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Our Feathered Friends - Glimpses to Enjoy 

  

 A mother Turkey and her brood, out for a stroll ...

  

Mama Mallard safely hidden from view until her babes are hatched ...

  

A pair of Mute Swans caring for their signets ...

   

Canadian Geese gathering to fly south, winter of 2010.  Dinah had a broken wing and was unable to join her friends for the trip, a caring resident fed her but as the weather grew colder and the lake froze, she needed more help.  A group from the local DNR rescued her and relocated her to the Boardman River, where some of her friends were also wintering ...   (See Newsletters, June - 2011 for the complete story).

  

A pair of Pilated Woodpeckers - a rare and beautiful sight!               Winter fishing for this hungry Eagle ...

   

Blackbirds, Blackbirds (Crows?) everywhere, could it be the temptation of a neighboring cornfield?

    

Bats love mosquitos         (In process of being updated)

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Loon Report - 2017, Annual Meeting 08-05-2017 

         

 Update on Loon Nesting Buoys2017 SILVER LAKE LOON REPORT,   Sherry McNamara, Loon Ranger 

At last year's Annual Meeting the use of buoys that indicated there were nesting loons in the area was discussed.  The board felt that the buoys would attract more attention to the nesting area rather than keep people away.  The loons are generally fairly well camouflaged while on the nest.

 Loon Update

 The male loon arrived at the end of March (I heard him calling as he flew over) and I finally saw him on the lake on April 2nd.  The female was here by April 16th when I spotted the pair swimming together.  By the end of April they were scouting nest locations and successfully built a nest about the middle of May.  I think this is the same pair as we had last year (but a different pair than we had here for many years prior to that).  Since they were unsuccessful in having a viable egg in 2016, they chose a different nesting location this year.  This is not in a very private location.  Incubation lasts between 26 and 28 days and I felt they had the cool, rainy weather on their side since there was much less boat traffic and people in the water during April and May. 

Two chicks were born on or about May 6 and by the evening of May 7 they were off the nest and would never go back to it after that and will spend the rest of their life in the water.  Within about 10 days the chicks were learning to dive for food like their parents, but will still be supplementary fed by the parents well into August. 

By the middle of July the chicks are moving further away (or the parents are giving them a lot of leeway) and I often saw one of the chicks very far from mom and dad.  About this time, the little ones start testing their wings, flapping, standing up in the water, but as of this writing are not quite yet ready to fly, but you many see them "running" across the surface of the water.  The adults will leave the lake in the fall, roughly October, and the chicks will stay on the lake a bit longer and leave on their own just before the lake ices-in.  It's amazing isn't it how they can find their way to the southern warm waters off the coast of Florida! 

About this time of year, you will notice flocks of loons that come to fish on the lake.  I have seen up to 10 together at a time.  Also, you may notice that the Bald Eagle has been flying overhead and looking for his prospective dinner.  The adult loons seem to spot the eagle from quite a distance off and call out a warning to the chicks who come quickly to gather close to mom and dad.  The chicks are nearing the size of the parents at this point, but still have brown eyes (not yet red like the adults) and are still fairly gray in color resembling the adult's winter plumage.  However, with binoculars you can start to discern their markings - they will stay muted in color like this until they are ready to return to the northern area. When the chicks are about 2-2 1/2 years old, they will return here to their "natal lake" (lake where they were born).  They will not be ready to breed until they are about 6-7 years old. 

Boats, sailboats, jet skis, etc. still continue to get too close - even when the parents call out a warning to back off.  Some seem to think that calling back is a fun game that the loon is playing with them, but failing to understand they are wishing people to back off!  I see lots of boats cruising and looking at houses along the shore and several times have not only just missed the chicks in front of them, but also have separated the chicks from the parents by cutting right between them when the boat driver was not looking where he was going.  Not sure how to stop this practice.

If anyone has anything to share regarding the loons you can contact Sherry McNamara at silverlakeloons@hotmail.com

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In the fall of 2014, the SLIA board approved a committee to be headed by Sherry McNamara to be our "Loon Ranger" and represent our group with the Michigan Loon Preservation Assn.  This is her introductory letter, published in the October, 2014 Newsletter.

Adventure in Loonology

For most of my life, I have been interested and intrigued by birds, moving to the lake has provided me the opportunity to  enjoy the waterfowl, particularly the  Loons.  I was fortunate to have a neighbor, Henry Wise, as a wonderful mentor,  providing tidbits of knowledge to me about them.  He had been a Loon Ranger for many years, monitoring several lakes in the area.  When he moved from  the lake, I sought to replace him as the ranger forSilverLake!

Unfortunately, this season, our Loons have not produced any offspring.  They tried to nest down at the south end, but turtles and kayakers disturbed them and they were soon put off the nest.  With the higher lake level, they just didn't seem able to find another suitable nesting site.

Nonetheless, this is going to be an exciting adventure in "Loonology."  I am now a member of the Michigan Loon Preservation Association (MLPA) and part of my duties as the Loon Ranger is to report specific data to them each year.  Since SilverLakeis a big lake and many of you take pleasure in our Loons, the SLIA board thought perhaps you might like to assist me in the Loon reporting.  To that end, I have set up a Loon email address for you to correspond with me at  silverlakeloons@hotmail.com

The type of useful  information would be  when you first spot the Loon(s) arrival in the spring,  (typically mid April - mid May).  An important statistic would be the number of pairs of Loons you see.  (But, to be accurate, you would have to see all of them at the same time,  you could not presume that a pair sighted in one location is different than a pair sighted later in another).  If you spot a nest, I would need to know the site.  If  there are chicks, please provide how many and  the date you first saw them.  The final bit of data would be when you last see them at the end of the season.  The adults normally  leave in Sept/Oct.   The chicks do not migrate with the parents, but leave later, perhaps November or  possibly December. 

I am excited about this opportunity to be the Silver Lake Loon Ranger and I hope you will join me in my pursuit of observing and monitoring our Loons!     . . .Sherry McNamara,  Silver Lake Loon Ranger

Remember - Harrassing Wildlife is Illegal!   if you see someone threatening the Loons, please call the DNR 24 hour Wildlife Harrassment Dispatch Center at 800-292-7800!

 

FEEDING WATERFOWL = PROMOTING SWIMMER'S ITCH

While we do treasure our wildlife - we must co-exist with the problems they sometimes bring as well.  Swimmer's Itch is NOT FUN!  The following article and graphic is very informative.

PLEASE DON'T FEED THE DUCKS!  As part of the lake community, wild ducks and geese feed on plants and other aquatic organisms. The ducks eat the plants and remove a fraction of the nutrients, then excrete nutrients which support new plant growth.  This is a natural cycle, but when man establishes waterfowl feeding programs, it increases waterfowl numbers, and more nutrients enter the lake.

For example, scientists estimate a duck excretes 0.9 pounds of phosphorus annually.  They have also estimated that under the appropriate conditions, one pound of phosphorus can stimulate five hundred pounds of weed and algae growth.  It becomes obvious that a feeding program which supports a large population of semi-domesticated ducks can contribute hundreds of pounds of phosphorus per year to a lake, to  cause unnatural weed and algae growth.

Waterfowl are a natural part of lake communities.  They should be enjoyed, and encouraged to stay on the lake through habitat and nesting improvement programs, but not through continuous artificial feeding programs.