The Hidden Life of Wolves

From The Three Little Pigs to Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf has often been portrayed in European culture as a monster that is crafty and vicious, being viewed as either dangerous predators or rivals for food. However, other perceptions of the wolf include viewing the animal as a spirit animal, attributing human inner qualities to the creature or seeing the wolf as a source of scientific data. These concepts are challenged in The Hidden Life of Wolves, a fascinating book written by wildlife filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher who argue that the wolf is not "the wolf of nightmares," "the spirit wolf," or "the managed wolf." Instead they favor the idea of "the social wolf."

The Dutchers chronicle the story of the Sawtooth Pack and the wolves’ reintroduction to their natural habitat in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. The Dutchers lived in a tent alongside the pack for years witnessing the social behaviors of the wolf pack and drawing conclusions based on little before seen wolf actions. Throughout the Dutchers’ experience with the Sawtooth wolf pack, they were able to shed light on illusive habits of wolf packs in general, revealing the social lives of wolves. They observe the joy of the pack when pups are born as well as the mourning that occurs when the pack loses a member. Witnessing such events allows the Dutchers to conclude that wolves are more than the mythical creatures that are read about in fairy tales but instead are highly social creatures.

Not only is the information within the book detailed, but the photographs are beautiful and captivating. The Dutchers make a compelling case for the preservation of the wolf packs and their habitats. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the social behaviors of animals and environmental issues.

Yardscaping

Have a corner in your backyard that needs some sprucing up? Have some unused objects hanging around that you just don't want to get rid of like an old, unused metal toolbox or some scraps of copper or aluminum tubing? Well, there are several books recently published that will give the outdoor artist in you some ideas for repurposing them. The Revolutionary Yardscape is every dumpster diver, scrap hound, or flea market enthusiast's dream, providing plenty of ideas for found items like plastic pallet strapping, wine bottle corks, reclaimed lumber, pipes, empty window frames, broken concrete slabs, and scrap stone, just for starters. It includes where to find specific items like at scrapyards or surplus sales. I love the reuse of an old oxygen tank from a hospital surplus sale as a planter! I also learned about items I never knew the name of like the reuse of a bollard as a garden hose guide. Projects range from very intensive to easy and he provides the info to get you through: like how to cut difficult materials including stone, steel, or acrylic sheets, or what to use to bend metal pipes. Another great book on this same subject is Handmade Garden Projects. I found the projects easier to accomplish in this book but just as creative. The easiest project was for garden lighting called: 'Canning Jar Lanterns', a great day project to do with kids. So whether you want an outdoor project to do in a day or over the course of many, these two books should give you plenty of ideas! For even more ideas click here.

Take a Hike @ Dolph and Lakewood Nature Areas

Thursday, August 15 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Dolph Nature Area | All Ages

Go on a nature walk with a staff naturalist from Natural Area Preservation (City of Ann Arbor) that will loop through both Dolph Nature Area and Lakewood.

Learn about native plants and trees, invasive plants, ecological restoration, and volunteer activities in Ann Arbor Parks.

Dress comfortably to walk and enjoy nature! Meet in the parking lot off Wagner Road, between Jackson Road and Liberty Street. This event is for all ages.

A Little Book of Sloth: A great book if you startle easily

Have you ever come across something so hideous it is adorable? That is how I feel about sloths. I love them. I love everything from their quiet and reserved nature to their fabulous hair (just look here to see what I’m talking about). So, when I stumbled across A Little Book of Sloth in the AADL catalog, I immediately knew I had to get my hands on it and once I did, it did not disappoint me. This book chronicles the efforts of the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, but mainly focuses on its inhabitants and their varying personalities. Highlighting the two different species of sloths, this book contains many fun little facts about these very, very slow creatures. For example, did you know that no one really knows how long a sloth can live? Or that the sloth has extra neck vertebrae so they can turn their heads up to 270 degrees? Amazing!

The author of this book is the zoologist Lucy Cooke who has a passion for those creatures that most people would not think of as cute or lovable. You can check out some of Lucy Cooke’s older blog posts at The Amphibian Avenger, which highlight some unlovable creatures she has worked with in the past, but be advised that she is writing for an adult audience so some of the content might not be appropriate for younger readers. If you want to follow her current adventures you can check out her Facebook page.

Michigan Wildlife Exhibits From The Leslie Science And Nature Center

This summer we welcome back three live animal exhibits from the Leslie Science and Nature Center.

Visit the Malletts Creek Branch to see an eastern newt in an aquatic enclosure along with some little pond bug friends (at least until he eats them all). Drop in to the Pittsfield Branch to visit a grey tree frog who may even sing to you if you’re lucky. And be sure to stop by the Traverwood Branch for a lifecycle exhibit of the cecropia moth, currently housing last year’s cocoons, that will hatch into North America’s largest native moth over the next 3-5 days. The moths only live for about one week, and we release them after a few days, so you’ll need to hurry if you want to see them before they’re gone. The moths reproduce by laying eggs that hatch into caterpillars, who will spend the summer growing through several impressive phases before building cocoons for the winter. You’ll get to witness multiple caterpillar instars simultaneously at any given time in the enclosure, try to identify them all!

Be sure to watch for this Friday's badge drop at play.aadl.org for a chance to earn Summer Game badges and points for visiting the critters, and read on for some sneak preview video!

Take a Hike @ Mary Beth Doyle Nature Area

Thursday, June 13 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Mary Beth Doyle Park | All Ages

Join us on a walk on the unpaved trail that meanders along Malletts Creek and through woods and wetlands of this 81.4-acre park. A staff naturalist from Natural Area Preservation (City of Ann Arbor) will discuss native plants and trees, invasive plants, ecological restoration, volunteer activities in Ann Arbor Parks, and much more.

The walk will start at the park entrance off Packard Rd., just east of Cobblestone Farm (south side of the road). Parking at the entrance is limited; additional parking is available at the Malletts Creek Branch (3090 E. Eisenhower) with a half-mile walk east along Eisenhower and Packard to the park entrance.

Paddle Now, Chores Later With Michigan Kayaking And Canoeing Expert Doc Fletcher

Wednesday May 15, 2013: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

PBS-featured author and life-long Michigan resident Doc Fletcher returns to the Library for a delightful discussion of Michigan canoeing and kayaking.

Among the rivers featured for this event will be Pere Marquette, the subject of Doc's new book Michigan's Pere Marquette River: Paddling Through Its History.

The event includes a book signing and copies of Doc's books on canoeing and kayaking in Michigan and Wisconsin will be for sale.

Audiobooks for Kids: Wildlife Adventures

Author Carl Hiaasen, born and raised in Southern Florida, spent his childhood amongst the mangrove swamps and freshwater lagoons that surrounded his home. In his books for kids, Florida’s wild places and wild animals take center stage. If you’re in the mood for a wildlife adventure, check out his audiobooks:

Chomp – Wahoo Crane and his classmate Tuna Gordon set out to find the difficult star of the reality television show “Expedition Survival” who went missing while filming an episode in the Florida Everglades. Read by James Van der Beek.

Scat – Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing. Read by Edward Asner.

Flush – With their father jailed for sinking a river boat, Noah Underwood and his younger sister, Abbey, must gather evidence that the owner of this floating casino is emptying his bilge tanks into the protected waters around their Florida Keys home. Read by Michael Welch.

Hoot – Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy's attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site. Read by Chad Lowe.

Lovin' the Lavender

One of my favorite scents is lavender and with spring planting upon us, I turned to the Lavender Lover's Handbook, for inspiration. Lavender not only smells intoxicating, the flowers are gorgeous, and it can be used in a variety of recipes. From flower arranging to wreath making to cooking, this book provides the information needed to utilize lavender in many ways and in a variety of forms. The author also describes the different varieties of lavender, as well as how to grow and maintain them in abundance. The author should know, she has a 5-acre farm in Oregon with some 5000 lavender plants. It is open to the public and has the romantic name of Lavender at Stonegate. The library owns several other books on lavender, like Lavender : the grower's guide and Lavender : how to grow and use the fragrant herb I also have just heard about the Michigan Lavender Festival in Armada that takes place in July! A rewarding summer sipping sweet lavender lemonade!

Take a Hike @ Bird Hills

Thursday, May 2 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Bird Hills Natural Area | All Ages

The Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation staff will lead a nature walk in one of Ann Arbor's most beloved parks, Bird Hills. Covering 147 acres, it is the largest park in Ann Arbor.

Learn about ecological restoration and responsible use of public lands. Opportunities for wildlife viewing are plentiful. If we’re lucky, we may get to view some early spring bloomers like trillium, jack-in-the pulpit, and more. Black, red, and fox squirrels, ground squirrels, deer, and butterflies are very common in Bird Hills. Dress comfortably to walk and enjoy nature.

We'll meet in the parking lot off Newport Road, just north of M-14. This event is for all ages.

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