Fellow Visitors to the UP


 We are visiting the Upper Peninsula this summer holiday. We ran into to other visitors to this beautiful region, one wanted and the other unwanted.

The first is shown above – it is an Indian Blue Pea Fowl (Pavo Cristatus) that I photographed as it was walking along the road near the Ski Brule Resort. We were on the way home from Hagerman Lake it was walking in the middle of the road. People call them pea cocks but actually only the male is known as a pea cock. The female is known as a pea hen and the species is pea fowl. The bird is a member of the pheasant family and there are two species in its genus of Pavo. The other species is known as the Green Pea Fowl.

The Blue Pea Fowl is native to India. This one is obviously someone’s pet and they do make good pets. They serve as a “watch fowl” and need minimal care. They are from a temperate to tropical climate and so need to be protected from the cold winters.

Zebra Mussels On A Rock from Chicagoan Lake
Zebra Mussels On A Rock from Chicagoan Lake

The Zebra Mussel ( ) is a nuisance species. It is native to south east Russia, but with the advent of extensive global trade, bilge water containing mussels was dumped into Lake St. Clair, a small lake between Erie and Huron in the Great Lakes. It was first reported in 1988 and then spread throughout the region since then. It first appeared in Iron County lakes around the turn of the century. The New York Sea Grant Program has an excellent dynamic map showing the progessive spread of this mollusc. They are found all the way down the Mississippi River, all of the Great Lakes, as well as lakes throughout the midwest.

They are a nuisance because they are voracious eaters and they take away plankton and algae that would normally feed fish. The Zebra Mussel also clogs intake pipes as well as contaminated bodies of water with their feces. They are filter feeders and concentrate toxins in their bodies as they eat. Their feces contains much of these toxins.

We found them all over most of the rocks in Chicagoan Lake, which is close to my home. My friends have a cottage on the lake and their children were finding them and taking them off of the rocks. I applaud their efforts, but with females able to produce 30,000 – 100,000 eggs per year, it will be tough to manually get rid of them.

There is a ton of information on the web about the zebra mussel. One good article is found here. It will be interesting to see what can be done about them.

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