So I sez to this loon, I’m seeing more & more loons every year…
At least I imagine something to that effect in the conversation above. I’ve definitely been noticing more loons again this summer. While loons are far from out of the woods, this is a real success story for conservation efforts that you can read about from the Michigan Loon Preservation Association.
The Michigan Nature Guy (Donald Drife) wrote about the rebound of Michigan’s loon population, saying in part:
No other bird signifies the wilds of northern Michigan better than the Common Loon (Gavia immer). When I wake up while camping along the shore of a northern lake and feel its eerie cry, I am connected to a primitive time and the primitive land.
…Common Loons breed in Michigan north of Saginaw. Our current population is 500-775 nesting pairs. While this is up from the estimated 220 pairs in the early 1980s, there are still thousands of suitable lakes without a nesting pair. Loons are diving birds with their legs placed toward their tails. This gives them trouble walking on land. It is rare to see a loon on land except at its nest. Loons return in early spring and it is not uncommon to see them on a lake the day after its ice melts. How they know that the water is open remains a mystery. Nests are built near the waterline and often touch the water. Nests are little more than bare ground when the eggs are laid. Both parents incubate the eggs and add grass, sedges, reeds, and other vegetation to the nest.
All About Birds says that the Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) is shorebird you can see without going to the beach:
These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress, or to see if they’ve startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer, is a common sound even after dark, often given in flight as the bird circles overhead on slender wings.
Killdeer get their name from the shrill, wailing kill-deer call they give so often. Eighteenth-century naturalists also noticed how noisy Killdeer are, giving them names such as the Chattering Plover and the Noisy Plover.
The Killdeer’s broken-wing act leads predators away from a nest, but doesn’t keep cows or horses from stepping on eggs. To guard against large hoofed animals, the Killdeer uses a quite different display, fluffing itself up, displaying its tail over its head, and running at the beast to attempt to make it change its path.
The male and female of a mated pair pick out a nesting site through a ritual known as a scrape ceremony. The male lowers his breast to the ground and scrapes a shallow depression with his feet. The female then approaches, head lowered, and takes his place. The male then stands with body tilted slightly forward, tail raised and spread, calling rapidly. Mating often follows.
OK. I know I’m REALLY heavy on birds lately, but come how can you resist??!!
A reader (Bill S) tipped me off that there was a story out there on Kevin so I have an addition:
A Michigan gas station where a rooster showed up a few months ago and refused to leave built a coop for the bird and named him Kevin. Michelle Brink, a 15-year employee of Magoo’s gas station in Paw Paw, Michigan, said the rooster first turned up on October of last year, and started making regular visits to eat the deer feed outside the store.
“After the deer feed left we thought maybe he would go home [but] he never left,” Brink told WXMI-TV. “So we’re like OK, winter’s coming, we better build him a box.”
Read on for more including a great video report featuring Kevin from UPI.
More funny business on Michigan in Pictures.
Here’s hoping your week gets off to a great start! You can read all about the red-tailed hawk, Michigan’s most common hawk, and see more photos and hear calls in the Red-tailed Hawk entry from All About Birds.