May 04-05

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2005: May: May 04-05
Up a tree    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Greta Jones
Hitchin' a ride    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Greta Jones

Mary Drew at Pasty Central on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 06:55 am:

I hope this excellent tree climber isn't up a tree eating all the leaves, before they get a chance to sprout! Maybe he's just scouting out the area for the best place to locate his den in the U.P. Porcupines are generally nocturnal, but as Greta Jones discovered, they will forage for food during the day too. They actually spend a good deal of their time in trees and are said to be quite vocal, emitting moans, grunts, coughs, wails, whines, shrieks and tooth clicking. The little piggy-back tree in the second shot has a long ways to go before it will be big enough for anyone to climb. Neat how nature grabs on and makes a foothold wherever it needs to. Kind of reminds me of the shot a few years ago of a tree along my morning walking route in Lake Linden... in case you're wondering, it's still thriving in the crook of that tree today!

Little Pine from the Archives

By joe on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 06:57 am:

Great Shot

By marcy, new baltimore MI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 07:04 am:

I can see for miles and miles. To be up that high and not get sick.

By Marcy, new baltimore MI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 07:09 am:

I would like to thank you for all your hard work and time. I have been coming to this website for about two years and have enjoyed every minute. Some day I will live in the UP, but right now I have to wish and dream of it. Your pictures help alot. THANK YOU again.

By Jim Mi on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 07:20 am:

The tree is on 12 th street and my wife & I owened that tree for about 9 years.

By Mr. Bill on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 07:26 am:

What is the status of porcupines in the UP, or more specifically in the Keweenaw ?

I had one come down the tree next to our tent down at Carp Lake 25 years ago, and I saw one as road kill on 41 last year, but other than that, none.

Some older residents say that they are just about gone. I hope not, any comments?

By Protowhatever, Calumet, MI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 07:37 am:

I work on 6th street in Calumet, just outside of downtown. While sitting at my desk one day last fall, I heard a car honking. I went to investigate the commotion and I see a porcupine waddling across the road. He then waddled over by my office window and then went on his merry way. That's the closest I've been to one (and the closest I think I ever want to be!)

By Clf.Mi. on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 07:56 am:

They are good eating too,in a pinch.

By Karen from Plymouth MI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 08:00 am:

Quite a few years ago, we were in Sault Ste Marie walking around town (near the Traverse Bay Woolen Co) one evening and we passed a porcupine who was walking in the other direction right on the sidewalk !!! Then he crossed the street near a Pedestrian Crossing sign!!! I am not making this up. It's always exciting in the UP !!!

By Roy, TN on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 08:35 am:

What has happened to all of the porcupines in the Keweenaw? I remember back in the 1950's and 60's, just about every time you would take a walk in the woods, you would see a porkie. Now, you never see one. The good old DNR put in Pine Martins in the Keweenaw and I think they have eaten all of the porkies. In addition, these little killers also have eaten all of the Ruffed Grouse.

By finlander, painesdale on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 08:37 am:

The fisher is one of the only predators of a porcupine and the fisher numbers have been increasing in recent years, so I could believe that the numbers are down.

By Dick B. TrollLand on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 08:44 am:

If I remember rightly a Fisher is about the only predator of porcupines. Weren't they reintroduced in the UP to cut back on the numbers of porkies? I believe trapping of fishers is very limited, also. Maybe their numbers have increased to the point of severely lowering the population of porkies. I used to collect quills at roadkill sites by wrapping a stick with a rag and brushing the carcass.

By Mel, Kansas on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 08:45 am:

As you can see in the second photo, the best place for an Eastern hemlock to sprout is on the downed log of another one. They're called nurse logs, and provide the best habitat for the seedlings to get a foothold - supplying nutrients and such.

Although I can't quite get a good enough look at it to be sure it's a hemlock. May be Balsam fir instead. (Which will also take advantage of nurse logs.)

My favorite piggy-back tree is along the path down to Canyon Falls, where a Northern white cedar is doing its best to cover a very large rock with its roots. Along the same path is a 'rare' cedar-yellow birch hybrid. ;)

By Sue/mn on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:00 am:

What is a fisher?

By Debra, Muskegon, MI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:10 am:

Yep, I second the question posted above by Sue/mn. I have no idea what a fisher is. Hopefully this question is more intelligent than my last one which was "what is a troll from Michigan?" Only to find out that I am one!! : )

By Marvin G. on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:24 am:

Fisher Definition: The fisher looks like a thin overgrown weasel. The male measures 40 inches long and weighs no more than 20 pounds. The female has 35% less fat and is about 10% shorter than the male, which is covered in fur. The fur is blackish-brown and the fisher has a pale gray spot on its head and shoulders. It has a pale face and very dark feet. The fisher has a long body, short legs, a pointed face, rounded ears, and a bushy tail that weighs about 2 pounds

By Stix out West on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:25 am:

Story has it that the Native American's use a T-shirt and wack the heck out of the dead porkie. The quills stick to the shirt...and not to your hand!! It works. I use them in some of my art, driftwood beach combers (little stick people!). The quills make great spiked hair! They are dangerous little things!! We still see porkies fairly regularly in Jacobsville!

By Jim P.vancouver/Wa on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:41 am:

Nature is amazing, to find a tree growing where not expected to as in the above pictures. I've come across one growing from a crack in solid rock!

By Ms. Katie on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:56 am:

Stix out West....would like to find out more about the art you've often mentioned. (Or should this be in What's Up?) I really like driftwood and have bags of it out in our machine shed. mostly little stuff. I've been trying to find out how to use birchbark for art also. Any help there? Thanks ahead of time.

By Down State Dave on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:58 am:

Sue/mn -- A fisher is a guy who wealsels out on his weekend chores and goes fishing. Ergo ---- that fisher is a weasel. ;>)

Actually a fisher is a cute, furry little varmit that is in the same family as minks and weasels, I think. They are cute, meat eating little predators.

By Gary, CO on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 10:38 am:

Speaking of weasels, I'm going to go out on a limb here and state that I think that the porcupine has also gone out on a limb.

By Stix out West on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 10:48 am:

Ms. Katie....see ya over in What's Up! I am new at this message group but I think they would prefer we scoot over! Talk to ya soon.

By Joe P., Lake Medora on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 10:52 am:

Warning!! Don't run over a Porkie, I inadvertenly hit one and the quills stuck in the sidewall of my tire!!
Not sure but I heard the Pine Martin goes after Porkies too. But the DNR created a mess introducing them, they exploded in population around my deer camp and they would end up chewing on our deer if we had any!! They do not shoe away eithier!! Ornery critters.

By finlander, painesdale on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 10:54 am:

The fisher can kill a porcupine by attacking his face repeatedly, until the porcupine is too weak to defend itself. They are very quick and quite vicious when attacking. Another way they can kill a porcupine in the early winter when there is snow, is to dive under the snow and come up and attack the porcupine's abdomen. They also eat a lot of ruffed grouse eggs.

By Helen in Hubbell on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 11:24 am:

It would have to be the pinch of all pinches to eat that thing!!!!!! ouuuuuuuuu

By Bill, in Colorado on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 12:07 pm:

Several years ago I heard a chewing noise coming through the woods. I walked over to the neighbor's house and turned the corner and there was the fattest porkie, chewing on an old cedar bookshelf that had been put outside. It just looked at me like, "Get your own book shelf. This one's mine!"

By Margaret, Amarillo TX on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 12:31 pm:

Cool. I think those shots are really great. A promise that summer can't be far behind.

By Marsha, Genesee/Aura on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 12:36 pm:

Mel: I've seen that tree!

By Down South on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 12:58 pm:

Those descriptions of the fisher kind of sound like the story of the abominable snowman. What's the real name of this thing?

By Steve, Wilmington,Copper Harbor on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 01:20 pm:

It’s about that time of year when you start to see cars parked at trailheads that have mothballs scattered around them. I wandered what this was about until a porcupine chewed through my brake line. They are after salt left over from winter roads and I guess the mothballs deter them. I was in the boonies at Pictured Rocks and had to make it to Marquette using my emergency brake.(not Recommended)

By Jerry Fl. on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 01:27 pm:

Take a look at this site and will give you the facts about Fishers

By finlander, painesdale on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 01:34 pm:

Fisher - Martes pennanti

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Martes


By maijaMI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 02:11 pm:

Very glad to see this picture of a fisher. I was told the cougar my neice and I saw on the cutoff road from 41 to Eagle Harbor was a fisher. We knew it was a large black cat. Now seeing a fisher certainly confirms it!

By beaver Mo on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 02:34 pm:

Liked Pictures of the Porcupine and the Fisher.
Remember seeing a Pine Martin when I was a kid. Looked like an overgrown weasel.

Also like the Picture of the tree. Remember one that grew on our place up there. It was an Hemlock about 6 inchs thru and was growing on top of an old Pine stump that was about 8 or 10 ft across. The tree had been cut down and was found to be hollow so they just let it lay. We used to walk up one of the roots sticking out of the ground to get on top of the stump. Those roots were about 3 ft across.

By Steve, Livonia MI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 03:00 pm:

I don't know as much about the fisher population, but pine martens were reintroduced in parts of the lower peninsula in part to combat the damage being done to trees (birch and certain pines) by porcupines as martens are also a natural predator of the porcupine. Martens also eat berries, bugs, birds, and smaller mammals (squirrels, mice, rabbits). I have come across a couple, and they are very social (perhaps hyperinquisitive is the best way of describing them). The grouse predation aspect is certainly not good, though.

By Marsha, Genesee/Aura on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 03:03 pm:

Maija: I was researching cougars online the other day, and they said there are no black cougars in Michigan. However, I spotted one east of Aura a few years ago, so I'm glad to hear someone else has seen one. When you see them slink across the road with that long tail, they are unmistakable. I'm on the waiting list at my local library for the new book about Michigan cougars. I think the author's name is Botz. I should be getting it any day.

By finlander, painesdale on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 03:31 pm:

The pine martin is smaller and not as dark from what I have seen.


By joanne white lk on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 03:33 pm:

nature sure is amazeing. I've bought many trees , come home dig correct size hole put all kinds of nutrients in fill with good dirt, 3 months later dead tree.than you see them growing in cement. who's to figure?

By SDC, Ferndale, MI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 04:17 pm:

This is what I like about this site. People start talking about things like the Pine Martens and Fishers and I'm thinking I wish I knew what they look like. Now I do. The Fisher looks cute.

Thanks for posting the pictures.

By j A P E i on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 05:03 pm:

Todays link;

By sur5er on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 05:09 pm:

Ok folks, you have to agree that both the fisher and the martin are cute little kritters. Don't think I would want to be cornered by one on a nature walk.

About the porcupines, I remember that years ago, that one of the pamphletes for Michigan State Campgrounds, put out by the DNR, had a large picture of a doggie that had procupine quills sticking out of its muzzle. Ouch!

By kosk in Toronto on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 07:22 pm:

I will try to do this as phonetically as possible.
This is a Finnglish song my dad used to sing
to me about the porcupine when I was a little
girl. Maybe others know it, or know how to
spell it.
Pikki sikka, pikki sikka, porcanpine
Yersi bouda, yersi bouda, allatime

A rough translation would be, I think:
Piney pig, piney pig, porcupine
Chews wood, chews wood, all the time

Really. He used to sing this to me and I loved
it as much as the tickle belly hills of the
covered road on our way to Copper Harbor.

By FRNash/PHX, AZ on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 08:07 pm:

kosk in Toronto:

Oh yes, I remember that one too!
As you say, the spelling's a bit rough, but close enough to recognize!
I'll be doing some research on the spelling, but it will take some digging, several days, maybe. I hope someone else can jump in and give us the correct spelling. (For one thing, there won't be a 'b' in any Finnish word, probably a 'p'.)

By maijaMI on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 08:25 pm:

Marsha: Yup, it was a cougar, no doubt. I saw some media (don't know what) that admitted cougars are in the upper midwest.

I will never care what anyone says, what my neice and I saw that day was a black cougar. A year or so after, the conversation came up, wondering if it could have been something else. My neice looked at me calmly and said, "Mary, it was a big cat."

By sur5er on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:04 pm:

Kosk, not bad.:) You even got the spelling for porcupine's just one word instead of two: piikkisika,piikkisika
pureksia metsikkö, pureksia metsikkö

By Jon=hn-Canton Mi on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:34 pm:

Thanks to Finlander for the photos as they
put it together for some of us. This is still the best site , always informative.

By finngal fl on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 09:55 pm:

I too remember that song. Dad used to sing it to us. Can't help tho on words or spelling...

By DJC on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 10:52 pm:

Last Year as i Drove up the street in Central,A cougar crossed the road just up from me. My camera was on the seat but no time for a picture. Also Quite a few years ago as i was coming out of the Beaconhill Toivola Road a cougar was within a 150ft from me. There was no mistake it was a cougar.

By downstate don on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 12:22 am:

Great picture of the Fisher. I had never seen one
before. They are a beautiful looking animal. Does
anyone know if they are related to the mink family? How big do they get? Thanks.

By yooperfinn. MI on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 01:17 am:

"piikkisika piikkisika, porcanpine
jyrsi puuta, jyrsi puuta, alla time.. :)"
Great pics of the porkie, fisher and marten!

By kriss schrandt on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 01:42 am:

It looks like animal kingdom here on
Here's our new Finnish Lapphund puppy: We hope he loves our home in Michigan.


By Helen, MI on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 05:37 am:

A very cute little puppy!! He will love his new home in Michigan!! He would be loved by anyone anywhere!

By Walt, Ohio on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 07:14 am:

yooperfinn, you have the spelling the best. Kosk, I think the piiki's refer to the quills. Ya, an the reason they wanted to bring their numbers down was because of their harm to the trees. If you have ever seen the way they can peel the bark in the tops of trees, it's dramatic.

By kosk in Toronto on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 07:19 am:

Thanks to everyone for their comments on the
porcupine song. I still have one question,
what is the origin of the song itself. Was it in
the Top Ten wartime songs from the U.P.? I
would love to know.

By SDC, Ferndale, MI on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 11:41 am:

What a cutie pie that little puppy is. He's going to grow into a beautiful dog. Kriss, what is his name.

By clm-calumet on Thursday, May 5, 2005 - 12:15 pm:

in 1973 on my to work down Copper Harbor early one morning I saw a cougar up in a tree near Lake Medora. I know what I saw!!!

By philip petays (Topyksi) on Friday, December 30, 2005 - 10:40 pm:

the piikkisika song,, I have heard it as a little boy and continue to sing it today but i would like to know if there are any more verses to it.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Saturday, December 31, 2005 - 02:33 pm:

philip petays--

Almost missed this one. I will ask my father
when I call him tomorrow. He was the one
who used to sing it to me when I was a little

By WishingIWasInDaUP (Sur5er) on Saturday, December 31, 2005 - 04:06 pm:

Philip, I got your email last night..somehow, it ended up in my spam box...but saw the "Piikkisika" in the subject line and realized it had to be someone from Pasty Cam ;) Don't know too many Finnish spammers :)
I did a Google search last night, and the version that Kosk posted here, is the only one I know of.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Sunday, January 1, 2006 - 05:37 pm:


I just spoke with my father. He knows of only
one verse to the song. He thinks it was
invented by a Yooper--but has no evidence.
He sang it for me, which was a treat. I haven't
heard him sing the song in many a moon.

Happy New Year.

By philip petays (Topyksi) on Monday, January 2, 2006 - 09:23 pm:

Thank you for your help, my grand father came to western canada through the u.p. so it could have been picked up there. I'm told it could have been a drinking song from lumber camps. I find it a very universal song as I have used it as a childs lulaby and I even have a rap version of it that is popular with the kids. If any one finds or knows of more verses please let me know.

By Kristy Scott (Deese) on Monday, November 10, 2014 - 10:21 pm:

My father sang this version and supposedly he and his cousins
made up this version excuse my poor attempt at Finglish:

Piikisiika, piikisiika, porcupine
Sitting way up there up in the Norway pine
I get my sotgun and soot you down
Piikisiika porcupine

Brought back many a memory one when a lady on Johnny
Carson identified the song in one of their "stump the band"

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