baltimore oriole

Baltimore Oriole, photo by Kevin Povenz

The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) entry from All About Birds says (in part):

The rich, whistling song of the Baltimore Oriole, echoing from treetops near homes and parks, is a sweet herald of spring in eastern North America. Look way up to find these singers: the male’s brilliant orange plumage blazes from high branches like a torch. Nearby, you might spot the female weaving her remarkable hanging nest from slender fibers. Fond of fruit and nectar as well as insects, Baltimore Orioles are easily lured to backyard feeders.

…Baltimore Orioles are more often heard than seen as they feed high in trees, searching leaves and small branches for insects, flowers, and fruit. You may also spot them lower down, plucking fruit from vines and bushes or sipping from hummingbird feeders. Watch for the male’s slow, fluttering flights between tree tops and listen for their characteristic wink or chatter calls. Look for Baltimore Orioles high in leafy deciduous trees, but not in deep forests: they’re found in open woodland, forest edge, orchards, and stands of trees along rivers, in parks, and in backyards.

Baltimore Orioles seek out ripe fruit. Cut oranges in half and hang them from trees to invite orioles into your yard. Special oriole feeders filled with sugar water supplement the flower nectar that Baltimore Orioles gather. You can even put out small amounts of jelly to attract these nectar-eaters (just don’t put out so much that it risks soiling their feathers). Planting bright fruits and nectar-bearing flowers, such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines, can attract Baltimore Orioles year after year.

Read on for more and to see pictures and hear the distinctive song of the oriole.

View Kevin’s photo bigger and see more in his Birds slideshow.

Many (many) more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Perched Robin

May 12, 2015

Perched Robin

Perched Robin, photo by matt.swope

Top of the morning to you from Michigan’s state bird, the American robin!

View Matt’s photo background big and see more in his Northern Michigan slideshow.

More Michigan birds and more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Heron & Beaver

Heron & Beaver, photo by Corinne Schwarz

Here’s a cool photo from May of 20111 that I never featured for some reason. That reason might have been so I could link to this article from the Birdwatchers General Store in Cape Cod about the symbiotic relationship between beavers & blue herons. It says in part:

It is thought that the Bay State’s famed naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, never saw a Great Blue Heron nest in Massachusetts. Why? It’s partly because there were no beavers living in MA during Hank’s lifetime. Way back in the 1700s, unregulated cutting eliminated the trees beavers needed for survival.

…Today, beavers are once again thriving in MA. That’s not only great news for anyone who enjoys seeing beavers, but it’s great news for Great Blue Herons as well.

I think we all know how beavers operate. They find a secluded stream, cut down a few trees and dam it up. The area behind the dam becomes flooded and turns into a beaver pond. Why do beavers need to go through all the work to build their very own pond? The beavers create a pond so they can have underwater access to their lodge, even when everything is frozen in the winter. However, the newly built pond often entraps large trees, which eventually drown and die. Dead trees growing out of the center of a pond may look eerie to us, but they are magnets to herons. The dead trees provide excellent platforms for the birds to build their nests on. In addition, the water prevents terrestrial predators from munching on the eggs and babies. Between the swampy setting, the dead trees, the bulky stick nests and the gangly herons, the whole scene looks a Gothic nursery, but the birds love it.

Read on for lots more, and for more about these two species, see Know Your Michigan Birds: Great Blue Heron and Castor canadensis, the American beaver on Michigan in Pictures.

View Corrine’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her Water Wheel slideshow.

More spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Mother and her ducklings

Mother and her ducklings, photo by Brent Looyenga

A very happy Mother’s Day to all the hardworking Michigan mommas out there!

View Brent’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Misc slideshow.

PS: I guess this qualifies as another entry in the ever-expanding Michigan in Pictures Duckie Project.

Osprey Building a Nest

Osprey Building a Nest, photo by Rodney Campbell

All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the internet’s best resource for bird information. Their entry for Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) says that osprey are one of the largest birds of prey in North America and one of the most widespread birds in the world, found on all continents except Antarctica. More about osprey at Wikipedia and at Pandion haliaetus (Osprey) from the UM Animal Diversity web.

The Michigan DNR’s Osprey page begins:

The “fish hawk” is brown above and white below, and files with a distinct bend in its wing at the “wrist.” Their feet are equipped with spiny scales and long talons that give them a firm grip on slippery fish, their only prey. Ospreys usually select tall trees in marshes along streams, lakes or man made floodings. They will adapt to artificial nesting platforms. This “help” from humans, along with the restriction of certain harmful pesticides, has helped ospreys recover from the drastic population reductions seen in the 1950s and ’60s. The Nongame Wildlife Fund located 166 pairs in 1988, up from the 81 counted in 1975.

They ask for help in reporting osprey sightings in southern Michigan. Also check out Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan.

Rodney took this photo of an osprey building its nest in Milford.

MichiganOsprey.com is a great local resource and adds:

Like Bald Eagles, Ospreys often reuse old nests, adding new material to them each season. Ospreys prefer nests near water, especially in large trees, but will also nest on artificial platforms. Ospreys three years or older usually mate for life, and their spring courtship begins a five-month period when they raise their young.

View it background bigtacular and see more in his Birds slideshow.

Michigan in Pictures has lots more Michigan Bird photos!!

Kingfisher HD Friday

Kingfisher Silhouette HD Wallpaper, photo by John Britt

All about Birds says that the Belted Kingfisher is:

A common waterside resident throughout North America, the Belted Kingfisher is often seen hovering before it plunges headfirst into water to catch a fish. It frequently announces its presence by its loud rattling cry.

It breeds along streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries with banks for nest holes. The breeding distribution of the Belted Kingfisher is limited in some areas by the availability of suitable nesting sites. Human activity, such as road building and digging gravel pits, has created banks where kingfishers can nest and allowed the expansion of the breeding range.

View John’s photo background big and see more in his Northern Michigan – Seasons, Sunrises, Beaches, Waterfalls, Mountains slideshow.

More Michigan Birds from Michigan in Pictures.

Chevrons

Chevrons, photo by MichaelinA2.PortrayingLife.com

Spring officially arrives today at 6:45 PM, and we are starting to see signs that winter is running out of steam. One of them is the return of Red-winged blackbirds Agelaius phoeniceus about which University of Michigan BioKids says (in part):

These birds are some of the first springtime birds to return from their wintering sites. Once males arrive, they devote their time to defending their territory. The most successful defenders are not necessarily the most aggressive birds. Males that spend more time in, as well as foraging on, their territory are more likely to retain ownership of that territory.

Males with darker colored shoulders do not tend to keep their territories. Typically in the spring, male red-winged blackbirds display in a “song spread.” They fluff their plumage, raise their shoulders, and spread their tail as they sing. As the display becomes more intense, the wings are more arched with the shoulders showing more prominently. Males use this same body display as a threat to other male birds that enter into the male’s territory.

Females will also engage in a “song spread” display directed at each other early in the breeding season. One possibility is that a female will defend a sub-territory within the male’s territory. The female will engage in a “wing flip” display when a disturbance prevents her from returning to her nest full of young.

Red-winged blackbirds are active during the day and migrate between their summer breeding grounds and winter feeding areas. During the winter, red-winged blackbirds aggregate in huge flocks and tend to stay in or near areas where grains and seeds are available to eat.

Read on for more including their ability to help control insect pests.

View Michael’s photo background big and see more in his soon to grow Birds 2015 slideshow.

Many more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

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