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November 11 - 20


Racine has 9 hours and 35 minutes of daylight and Superior has 9 hours and 11 minutes of daylight at the end of the period. Southern Wisconsin loses 21 minutes of daylight and northern Wisconsin has 25 minutes less than the previous period. 































Finding bird nests:  Mid-November is the best time of year to look for bird nests. The leaves are off the trees and shrubs. The birds are not affected by your search. And most importantly, the harsh winter weather has not damaged the nest structure.


This search can be an enlightening outing. The nesting preference for those species you heard singing so profusely in June can now be established. Most birds try to hide their nests to avoid recognition by predators, especially those predators with good vision. Most birds have no defense for the predators that locate by smell. Search the bushes, tree tops, and vines for nests. A careful examination can help in understanding what nest materials were used, construction process, and even some left over food times.


A sample of nests may include:

  • Great Blue Herons or Great Egrets have large stick nests in trees. After several years the accumulation of guano can kill the trees.

  • Green heron builds a small stick nest in trees away from other herons. They have been known to nest in tall maples inn suburban lots.

  • Mourning Dove builds a flimsy assortment of sticks in evergreens and tangled masses of vines.

  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo builds a nest similar to Mourning Dove, but it’s a little more substantial. They locate these nests in thickets, especially those overgrown with grape.

  • Eastern Kingbird’s nest is usually on a tree limb 10 to 20 feet above the ground. The nest is a bulky cup with an unkempt exterior of weed stalks and the inner cup is lined with fine grasses and plant down.

  • Acadian Flycatcher’s nest is built between two horizontal limbs 10 to 20 feet up and well away from the trunk. The nest is a frail cup suspended hammock-like between the two branches. The exterior has many straggly streamers of long grass. 

  • Willow and Alder Flycatcher’s nests are placed in the forks of shrubs. The nest is a compact cup of weeds and bark lined with fine grass and cottony cattail fibers.

  • Eastern Wood-Pewee’s nest is placed on a horizontal tree limb well away from the trunk and 20 to 60 feet up. The nest is a dainty, shallow, cup of grasses, plant fibers, spider webs and has lichens attached to the outside.

  • Blue Jay builds a bulky 7 to 8 inch nest made of sticks lined with rootlets.

  • Gray Catbird builds its nest in dense thickets, briars and vines. The nest is substantial with a foundation of twigs grapevine and leaves. The inner cup lining is made of fine rootlets.

  • Brown Thrasher nests in similar locations as the Gray Catbird and its nest is similar, but tends to have thornier twigs.

  • Wood Thrush’s nest is similar to an American Robin’s nest, but has an inner lining of leaves instead of grass.

  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher builds its nest on small forks on horizontal branches. The nest is a compact cup built with fine down, spider’s silk, and plant down. The outside has lichens, bark and feathers attached.

  • Yellow-throated Vireo’s nest is suspended from a fork on a small branch 5 to 50 feet up. The cup is well woven with bark, grasses and spider’s silk, and the outside has lichens and moss attached.  The inner lining has fine grasses. 

  • Red-eyed Vireo’ s nest is similar to the Yellow-throated Vireo. It is located closer to the ground and contains more grasses woven into the structure.

  • Warbling Vireo’s nest is found high in the trees next to water. As with other vireos, the nest is intricately woven and suspended between twigs on a horizontal branch.

  • Northern Parula builds its nest out of old-man’s-beard lichen. It is completed hidden in festoons of this lichen.

  • Yellow Warbler places its nest in an upright fork of a shrub or small tree usually 3 to 8 feet above the ground. The nest is a compact cup of finely woven milkweed fibers, plant down, and grasses. The lining is very soft with plant down, hair and grass.

  • Chestnut-sided Warbler is found 1 to 4 feet above the ground and placed in dense thickets of briars and vines. The nest is loose woven made of strips of bark, weed stems and grasses. The inner lining is fine grasses.

  • Hooded Warbler places its nest in small bushes or briars 1 to 6 feet above the ground. The cup nest is neat and compact made of bark strips and grass. The inner lining is plant fibers, fine rootlets, hair and moss.

  • American Redstart’s nest is placed in the pronged fork of a tree 5 to 30 feet above the ground. The cup nest is compactly woven with plant down fibers and rootlets and lined with fine grass.

  • Orchard Oriole’s nest is a basket-like structure hanging from a forked branch. The nest is woven of grasses and lined with finer grass and down.

  • Baltimore Oriole’s nest is woven to a drooping outermost branch of a tree. The deep pouch is made of plant fibers, grapevine bark, yarn, string, and moss. The pouch is lined with soft cottony materials.  

  • Scarlet Tanager places its nest well out on a limb. The nest is a flimsy cup made of twigs, rootlets and is line with grass.

  • Northern Cardinal hides its nest in dense shrubbery. The nest is made of twigs, vines, leaves and is lined with grass.

  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak places its nest in the fork of deciduous tree. The flimsy cup nest is 5 to 25 feet above the ground and made of loosely woven grasses and twigs.

  • Indigo Bunting builds its nest in the crotch of a bush or briar. The cup nest is woven into the plants stems and is made of grasses, bark, feathers and hair. The inner lining is finer grasses and cottony material.

  •  American Goldfinch places its nest in forked upright branches of small tree. The nest is a tightly woven cup made of vegetable fibers lined with thistle and cattail down.

  • Chipping Sparrow places its nest in a conifer or vine 3 to 10 feet up. The nest is made of fine grasses lined with hair and even finer grasses.


Nature's Wealth: Opportunities for experiencing some of nature’s most outstanding events is the focus of this book. However, a person cannot and should not live by outdoor experience alone. The truly caring person needs to give back as much as he or she takes in. A good friend, Kenny Salwey, lived as a river rat, meaning he lived almost entirely off the land and water. After twenty or so years of the freedom life-style, a friend of his said in all seriousness “you’ve been taking and taking, when are you going to give something back”? Soon thereafter, Kenny with limited education changed his life’s direction. Through writing books, storytelling and support of environmental causes, he has generated more interest in the Mississippi River floodplain than anyone else in the upper Midwest. He used his given skills to make a difference.


Deer hunting and furbearers aside, November through February have many fewer opportunities available to experience living plant and animal interactions.


Time is needed to capture field notes in a more reflective manner.  Time is also needed to think deeply about nature and why you love it. November can be a great time to capture ideas and data that can help others understand why nature is so vastly important.


The value of nature's wealth is scarcely accounted when economic analyses are conducted. A full accounting is needed, for determination of the real cost to citizens, if these assumed free benefits would actually need to be paid. Items that have vales assessment conducted by ecological economists are:

  • Food and Fiber includes the vast range of food products derived from plants, animals, and microbes, as well as materials such as wood, jute, hemp, silk, and many other products derived from natural areas.

  • Food production: That portion of gross primary production extractable as food. Production of fish, game, crops, nuts, fruits by hunting, gathering, subsistence farming or fishing.

  • Genetic resources include the genes and genetic information used for animal and plant breeding and biotechnology.

  • Genetic resources includes: unique biological materials and products; medicine, products for materials science, genes for resistance to plant pathogens and crop pests; ornamental species.

  • Raw materials are that portion of gross primary production extractable as raw materials, such as the production of lumber, fuel or fodder.

  • Fuel: wood, dung, and other biological materials, which serve as sources of energy.

  • Ornamental resources include animal products, such as skins and shells, club moss wreaths and flowers, although the value of these resources is often culturally determined.

  • Pollination includes changes to the natural world affecting the distribution, abundance, and effectiveness of pollinators. Pollination is the movement of floral gametes and the provisioning of pollinators for the reproduction of plant populations.

  • Water regulation: the timing and magnitude of runoff, flooding, and aquifer recharge can be strongly influenced by changes in land cover, including, in particular, alterations that change the water storage potential of the system, such as the conversion of wetlands or the replacement of forests with croplands or croplands with urban areas

  • Water purification and waste treatment: ecosystems can be a source of impurities in fresh water but also can help to filter out and decompose organic wastes introduced into inland waters.

  • Water supply: Storage and retention of water: provisioning of water by watersheds, reservoirs and aquifers.

  • Air quality maintenance: natural areas both contribute chemicals to and extract chemicals from the atmosphere, influencing many aspects of air quality.

  • Gas regulation: regulation of atmospheric chemical composition. CO2/O2 balance, ozone or ultraviolet protection, and sulphur dioxide levels.

  • Climate regulation: nature influences climate both locally and globally. For example, at a local scale, changes in land cover can affect both temperature and precipitation. At the global scale, natural areas play an important role in climate by either sequestering or emitting greenhouse gases.

  • Erosion control: vegetative cover plays an important role in soil retention and the prevention of landslides.

  • Water regulation: regulation of hydrological flows. Provisioning of water for agricultural (such as irrigation) or industrial (such as milling) processes or transportation.

  • Disturbance regulation: capacitance, damping and integrity of ecosystem response to environmental fluctuations. Storm protection, flood control, drought recovery and other aspects of habitat response to environmental variability mainly controlled by vegetation structure.

  • Erosion control and sediment retention: retention of soil within a natural area. Prevention of loss of soil by wind, runoff, or other removal processes, storage of stilt in lakes and wetlands.

  • Regulation of human diseases: changes in natural areas can directly change the abundance of human pathogens, such as cholera, and can alter the abundance of disease vectors, such as mosquitoes.

  • Biological control: natural area changes affect the prevalence of crop and livestock pests and diseases.

  • Waste treatment: recovery of mobile nutrients and removal or breakdown of excess nutrients and compounds. Waste treatment, pollution control, detoxification.

  • Soil formation and formation processes: weathering of rock and the accumulation of organic material.

  • Nutrient cycling: storage, internal cycling, processing and acquisition of nutrients. Nitrogen fixation: nitrogen, phosphorus and other elemental or nutrient cycles.

  • Biological control: Trophic-dynamic regulation of populations; keystone predator control of prey species, and reduction of herbivory by top predators.

  • Refugia: habitat for resident and transient populations.

  • Nurseries: habitat for migratory species, regional habitats for locally harvested species, or overwintering grounds.

  • Cultural heritage values: many societies place high value on the maintenance of either historically important landscapes (“cultural landscapes”) or culturally significant species.

  • Sense of place: many people value the “sense of place” that is associated with recognized features of their environment, including aspects of natural areas.

  • Recreation and tourism: people often choose where to spend their leisure time based in part on the characteristics of the natural or cultivated landscapes in a particular area.

  • Recreation: Providing opportunities for recreational activities, such as tourism, sport fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities.

  • Bequest value is the willingness to pay to give natural wealth to future generations.


Results Total Economic Value of Ecological Reference Areas and Stand Alone State Natural Areas

All the natural wealth and benefits literature gives a range of value from low to high. Utilizing low end numbers from multiple peer reviewed sources indicates a minimal value of nearly 600 million dollars of benefit annually for ecological reference areas for the citizens of the State of Wisconsin. A small state of Wisconsin program (Wisconsin State Natural Areas), which focusses on establishing reference areas in parts of the state, not covered with extensive public land provides 145 million dollars in benefits, annually. These areas do not have extensive public recreation and are more focused on science.  The value of State Natural Areas for science and education alone reveals an annual value of between 6.5 and 11 million dollars.


Leonid meteor showers: This named meteor shower event emanates from the constellation Leo. The optimum viewing is between midnight and dawn on November 18. In most years, the Leonids will have a few dozen meteors per hour, but occasionally they produce a shower storm with over 1000 sightings per hour.


Silk moth cocoons: Cocoons of our silk moths are detectable at this time of year.  Polyphemus moth cocoon hang from ashes, birches, grapes, hickories, oaks and maples. The cocoon is constructed on tips of branches with most falling to the ground, however many remain in the tree branch tips. The promethean moth constructs its cocoon on a silken stalk that hangs from branches. They remain attached and can be found after the leaves fall. Black cherry trees in fencerows are good places to search. Cecropia Moths spin their cocoon lengthwise along the branch. Look for these structures on many types of trees and shrubs after leaf fall.



  • White-tailed deer are in peak rut. 

  • Late fall plowing in open agricultural areas can host thousands of Ring-billed Gulls. They are looking for grubs and worms exposes by the plow.

  • Deadman’s fingers fungi can be seen growing from the sides of dead wood.

  • By mid-November, the snowshoe hare is nearly all white.

  • Fairy-ring mushrooms are usually the last of the season.

  • The ephemeral leaves of the puttyroot (Adan and Eve orchid) pokes above the fallen leaves to capture sun rays through the winter.


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