Here’s the latest addition to the Michigan in Pictures Duckie Gallery, which for some reason is a thing. ;)
Head over to Glen’s Flickr for many more great photos!
While these arctic owls are not found in the summer, the Michigan DNR shares that Snowy Owls & other winter visitors spend time in our state during the winter months:
Just because the leaves have fallen from the trees and there is a chill in the air is no reason to put away your binoculars. Winter offers unique viewing opportunities. Many of our summer resident birds migrate to warmer summer climates. Still, there are several species of birds that migrate from Canada and find Michigan the perfect winter temperature. Winter is the only time several of these species can be found in Michigan.
Two of the largest migrants are the snowy owl and the great gray owl. Snowy owls can be found moving into Michigan during winter when the food supply on the arctic tundra is in short supply. Snowy owls have been recorded as far south as Lansing, Michigan. Because they rarely see humans on their northern homes, they are not timid and can be easily viewed for long periods of time.
Kevin took this photo back in the winter of 2016, but he’s been hearing that they are back in Michigan now. See more in his Birds of Prey album on Flickr & be sure to follow Kevin Povenz Photos on Facebook.
The Winter Solstice which marks the beginning on winter in the Northern Hemisphere officially happened at 5:02 am this morning. As you may know, the two largest planets Jupiter & Saturn will appear at their closest point since 1623 and the closest observable conjunction since 1226 just after sunset this evening! Michigan weather being what it is, the likelihood of us being able to see it isn’t high, but we will have a chance to enjoy it for the next few evenings.
Dale took this photo on the winter solstice back in 2014. He says that he was overjoyed to find a Snowy Owl on my first trip out that winter – almost like a Christmas present! See more in his Best of West Lake gallery on Flickr & also follow Dale on Facebook for more.
Lots more snowy owl pictures & info on Michigan in Pictures!
…was established in 1935 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The wild land that today is the refuge has not always appeared so wild. This is a land that was once heavily logged, burned, ditched, drained and cultivated. Despite repeated attempts, the soils and harsh conditions of this country would not provide a hospitable environment for sustained settlement and agriculture. So, nature claimed it once again. What was viewed as a loss by early 20th century entrepreneurs became a huge gain for the wildlife, natural resources and the people of Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula.
Seney National Wildlife Refuge is located in the east-central portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, halfway between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The 95,238 acre refuge encompasses the 25,150 acre Seney Wilderness Area, which contains the Strangmoor Bog National Natural Landmark.
The photographer writes that it’s hard to believe that there’s pelicans in Michigan, but here they are. In an in-depth Great Lakes Echo feature, Eric Freedman writes that American White Pelicans are expanding their breeding range in Michigan & North America:
The species “is undergoing a dramatic expansion of its breeding range in North America,” the study published in the journal Ontario Birds said. “The nesting on Lake Erie, so far from the colony sites in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, seems unusual. Why such a large dispersal from the nearest breeding colony 550 km (340 miles) away?”
Now they’re spreading eastward.
…That distance “is and is not unusual,” said study co-author D.V. Chip Weseloh, a retired Great Lakes waterbird specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. “Pelicans are strange birds and will range far and wide hundreds of miles to feed,” a feat documented with radio transmitters.
With its 9-foot wingspan, the American white pelican is one of North America’s largest birds and feeds primarily on fish, according to the Audubon Society.
The overall population declined through the first half of the 1900s but has grown substantially since the 1970s. It’s protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List categorizes it as a species of least concern.
View more in Kare Hav’s Pt. Lookout/Augres gallery on Flickr.
I’ve always thought of this bird as an insult from Looney Tunes, but All About Birds from Cornell University explains that Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers:
…are fairly small woodpeckers with stout, straight bills. The long wings extend about halfway to the tip of the stiff, pointed tail at rest. Often, sapsuckers hold their crown feathers up to form a peak at the back of the head.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers arrive back in mid-Michigan in April from their wintering grounds in the southern U.S., Mexico, West Indies, and Central America.
I’ve seen evidence of their presence before on the trunks of the pine trees. Sapsuckers tap for sap as their main food source. On my trees the sapsucker seems to like to drill patches of several shallow rows across and several shallow rows down. These neatly organized patches of holes well up with sap that the sapsucker laps up with their brush-like tongue (not sucks). He also eats any bugs that happen to get trapped in the sticky stuff.
These predrilled sweet sap sources benefit hummingbirds, waxwings, and warblers as well when they need a quick, sweet bite while traveling.
Joshua took this photo of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in Antrim County. Click to visit Joshua’s Flickr and use the > at the right of the photo to see several more shots of this lovely bird!
“Mothers are like glue. Even when you can’t see them, they’re still holding the family together.”
– Susan Gale
Kevin shared this pic of a mother swan and her cygnets, wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! I heartily agree and hope all you moms are able to enjoy this & every day!
See more in Kevin’s Ducks, Geese & Swans gallery!
The All About Birds listing for Aix sponsa (wood duck) says in part:
The Wood Duck is one of the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches.
Wood Ducks thrive in bottomland forests, swamps, freshwater marshes, and beaver ponds. They are also common along streams of all sizes, from creeks to rivers, and the sheer extent of these make them an important habitat. Wood Ducks seem to fare best when open water alternates with 50–75% vegetative cover that the ducks can hide and forage in.
A few wood duck facts:
- Natural cavities for nesting are scarce, and the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females. (click for info about building a nest box)
- The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times up to 2 km (1.2 mi) away. After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of up to 89 m (290 ft) without injury.
- Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.
Many (many) more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.