Groundhog Warning!

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl, photo by Kevin Povenz

Any Michigan groundhogs out there probably better just stay inside and check to see what Woody the Woodchuck from the Howell Nature Center predicts. Word is already in from Punxsutawney Phil that we’re in for an early Spring!

You can learn all about Michigan groundhogs/woodchucks and Woody, Michigan’s official groundhog and snowy owls on Michigan in Pictures. One thing about snowy owls that you may not know is that due to their remote existence, they typically don’t have the same fear of humans that other owls exhibit.

Kevin took this gorgeous photo on Saturday near Sault Ste Marie and writes:

Yes I was laying down on my belly in the snow to get this shot. Not the sharpest of shots as there were weeds between me and this snowy and was hard to focus. Should of used manual focus, but I loved the moment. He just kept looking at me probably thinking “what the…?”

View his photo bigger and see more in his Birds of Prey slideshow.

Put it all on red

RED cardinal in fence

RED, photo by Sandy Hansen Photography

What an awesome capture. View Sandy’s photo bigger and see more in her Traverse City Area slideshow.

Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)

Bonapartes Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull, photo by James Salinas

All About Birds has this to say about Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia):

A small, graceful gull with bright white patches in its wings, the Bonaparte’s Gull winters near people, but breeds in the isolated taiga and boreal forest.

  • The Bonaparte’s Gull is the only gull that regularly nests in trees.
  • The English name of the Bonaparte’s Gull honors Charles Lucien Bonaparte, who made important contributions to American ornithology while an active member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia during the 1820s. The scientific name philadelphia was given in 1815 by the describer of the species, George Ord of Philadelphia, presumably because he collected his specimen there.
  • During the breeding season, the Bonaparte’s Gull feeds mainly on insects, often catching them on the wing.
  • Breeds around lakes and marshes in boreal forest. Winters along lakes, rivers, marshes, bays, and beaches along coasts.
  • Eats small fish and large invertebrates, including insects. Does not eat garbage or carrion.

Read on for more and some photos and the gull’s distinctive call.

James took this photo in Port Huron. View it bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Lots more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Sandhills in the Mist

Sandhills in the Mist

Sandhills in the mist, photo by Bill VanderMolen

Perhaps they’re waiting for the gorillas?

Here’s a shot from earlier in December, but Michigan is still just as misty and non-snowy as then.

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

More birds and more about sandhill cranes on Michigan in Pictures.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, photo by Rick Corriveau

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.
~Henry David Thoreau

I hope you have much to be thankful for, today and every day, within and without. I am thankful for all of you who give me reason to keep doing something that I dearly love – sharing photos of this beautiful and diverse place. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!

Also sorry folks – had this scheduled for first thing this morning I thought!!

Rick says he’ll take one drumstick please! View his photo bigger and see more in his Birds slideshow.

The Seagull Signal

Independence Sunset

Independence Sunset, photo by Cory Genovese

These amazing sunsets we’ve been seeing lately are the result of smoke from Canadian & Alaskan wildfires – perhaps that’s what the mayor of Marquette trying to signal Seagull Man about!

View Cory’s photo from before the Marquette fireworks bigger and definitely follow him on Facebook.

More from Marquette and lots more sunsets on Michigan in Pictures.

Kirtland’s Warbler on the Rebound

Kirtland Warbler at Tawas Point, 5-15-2010

Kirtland Warbler at Tawas Point, 5-15-2010, photo by John Britt

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources completed their annual June survey of Kirtland’s warbler, one of the rarest members of the wood warbler family that nests almost exclusively in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, with a few locations in Wisconsin and the province of Ontario. They explain:

“We have a great group of DNR, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff members, as well as volunteers, who are trudging through young, thick jack pine in the early morning hours,” said Department of Natural Resources wildlife supervisor Keith Kintigh. “The reward is getting to hear that singing male Kirtland’s warbler, which is the way we actually census the population.”

The Kirtland’s warbler census is a tool managers use to compare population numbers relative to recovery goals by listening for the male’s song. Kirtland’s warbler numbers had been very low, under 200 nesting pairs, in the mid-1980s. Michigan became the focus for habitat management, since it has been a primary location for the birds’ reproduction.

Kirtland’s warblers spend eight months wintering in the Bahamas. The males arrive back in Michigan between May 3 and May 20, a few days ahead of the females. The males establish and defend territories and then court the females when they arrive. The males’ song is loud, yet low-pitched, ending with an upward inflection – easily recognized to identify the presence of a Kirtland’s warbler.

Additionally, the presence or absence of Kirtland’s warblers determines if protection of that area is needed and allows evaluation of different habitat management techniques. The habitat requirements for Kirtland’s warbler are very specific; they prefer large blocks of young jack pine, usually hundreds of acres in size. The Kirtland’s warbler is a ground-nester, often using the living branches of 5- to 20-foot-tall jack pine trees to conceal their nests, so jack pine trees must be actively managed. Large areas of sandy soils are planted with jack pine and then cut decades later, on specific intervals, to achieve the perfect-aged stands.

Lots more about this rare songbird, including census results that show a steadily increasing population on the DNR’s Kirtland’s Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) page.

View John’s photo from May of 2010 background big and see more in his Animals & Wildlife slideshow.