Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Cover of Haunted Wisconsin ©

Haunted Wisconsin: Third Edition by Michael Norman

December 2012

Good winter reads

A little something for everyone.

Amanda Laurenzi

The garden has been put to bed for the winter. The leaves have long been turned to mulch. It’s time to relax, sit back and reward yourself for a frenzied fall with a good book. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

"Haunted Wisconsin: Third Edition"

Wisconsin has an extensive history of paranormal reports from around the state. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, author Michael Norman makes interesting points with firsthand accounts of people’s experiences dating back to the early pioneers of Wisconsin to modern-day tales of haunted schools and theaters in his new book, "Haunted Wisconsin: Third Edition."

Accounts of events are presented as if someone is actually telling a ghost story by the campfire; people who have contributed also have voices within the book. Quotes from the contributors and others who may have been witness share their experience with articulate detail.

In the preface to the book, Norman notes, "Whether young or old, rich or poor, famous or obscure, many of us find extraordinarily compelling those tales of a hidden world coexisting with our own, one that on occasion allows us a glimpse of its denizens — in the form of ghosts or apparitions or spirits or poltergeists or whatever you want to call them."

"Birdscaping in the Midwest: A Guide to Gardening with Native Plants to Attract Birds"

The best time to plan for spring planting? Before spring, of course! Have you ever wanted to have a garden filled with birds in your backyard along with beautiful plants? There is an array of stunning bird species and plants in the Midwest, and many combinations of the two are possible if you know what to do.

Mariette Nowak, an active leader and volunteer for Wild Ones: Native Plants, Natural Landscapes (a nonprofit educational organization) and for the Lakeland Audubon Society, provides details and instructions on how to landscape your backyard to offer an enriching environment for a variety of birds in "Birdscaping in the Midwest: A Guide to Gardening with Native Plants to Attract Birds."

Nowak uses vibrant pictures to show examples of gardens and bird species on almost every page. There are also sidebars of useful information that make finding the answers you’re looking for much simpler. Nowak also provides easy-to-read charts that give data and information on birds, plants and other gardening information. The dream of having a plethora of birds in your backyard is now reachable thanks to this book.

Stephen Kress, vice president of bird conservation, National Audubon Society, calls this an "excellent guide to bird gardening in the Midwestern states [that] provides abundant detail about how to improve the quality of backyard habitats through examples and practical plans. Mariette Nowak demonstrates that even small steps can improve local bird habitats in meaningful ways."

"Bird Watcher’s Bible: A Complete Treasury"

Friends of Wisconsin State Parks holiday gift packages

Friends of Wisconsin State Parks will be featuring holiday gift packages for purchase online again this year. They include a variety of great gift ideas for people who enjoy the Wisconsin state parks, forests, trails and recreation areas. You can purchase a 2013 Wisconsin state park sticker, a state trail pass, a FWSP 2013 calendar and NEW this year several gift packages that include a one-year subscription to Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine. Visit the website Friends of Wisconsin State Parks to purchase these packages to give as gifts or for you as a convenient way to shop online.

National Geographic’s "Bird Watcher’s Bible: A Complete Treasury" is a fantastic read for both bird watchers and curious bystanders alike. Whether you have been participating in the hobby for a while or simply have a vested interest in birds, this book has everything from tips on where to find certain breeds to the history and literature of the fine arts, sciences and even everyday life. There is great information for experienced bird watchers and it is also an easy read for someone who has never partaken in anything having to do with birds.

Anyone can read this book and understand the importance of different species to conserving natural habitats without prior knowledge required. So, stop. Look. Listen. Read. And be charmed by the beauty and wonder of birds.

"Phantoms of the Prairie: The Return of Cougars to the Midwest"

In John W. Laundre’s book the past, present and future of cougars in the Midwest prairies is unveiled for those who are familiar and unfamiliar with the mysterious feline. Early settlers in our region came close to killing off the cougar, and the rest were scared away by threat of humans making the area their territory. Cougars were shoved west and have been vacant from the Midwest for over a century.

However, recent reports from various people around the region have confirmed the cougars’ slow migration back to the prairies of the Midwest. Laundre, vice president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation and adjunct professor of biology at the State University of New York at Oswego, explores the possibility of the cougar making a comeback in the Midwest and what it could mean for humans.

Coexistence between humans and cougars is unstable and hard to predict, but Laundre attempts to analyze the level of success this movement could accrue in the coming years. The book is an easy read for those who have been following the news of cougars making their way to our region and also for those who are unfamiliar with the history and recent discoveries of the cougar.

Not only does Laundre provide in-depth descriptions and explanations of different issues surrounding the movement, he presents the information through questions that help guide readers into a train of thought that makes his book easier to comprehend.

Go face-to-face with freshwater game fish in this 2013 calendar

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine contributor Eric Engbretson trades a fishing rod for a camera, mask and snorkel as he goes underwater to get a look at freshwater game fish in their own habitat.

Engbretson’s photos are featured in the 2013 calendar, Fish of the Northern Lakes, a beautiful full size wall calendar that will transport you under the surface of crystal clear lakes for a rare glimpse of North American game fish in "their" world.

Each month features a stunning underwater image of one of our most popular native fish in its natural habitat. Included are beautiful underwater scenes of brook trout, rainbow trout, walleye, muskie, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfish and bullhead and channel catfish. Fish of the Northern Lakes is available at underwaterfishphotos.com

"Unlike many of our native animals, we rarely see fish in their natural state," Engbretson says. "Fish live in a world that’s largely invisible to us, so when we do see them, it’s usually when they’re far removed from their natural environment and behavior. This calendar shows what fish really look like in their natural habitat. I think my pictures celebrate the aquatic world by showing the inherent natural beauty of freshwater fish and the uniqueness of the freshwater environments where they live."

Amanda Laurenzi is an editorial staffer for Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine .