Good Morning: Sandhill Crane Edition

good-morning-by-jiafan-john-xu

Good morning!, photo by Jiafan (John) Xu

View Jiafan’s photo bigger and see more in his sideshow.

More about Sandhill cranes on Michigan in Pictures.

Life in 2016: Tree Swallow Edition

Life in 2016 Tree Swallow Edition

Tree Swallows, photo by Joe Povenz

Some days I feel that this photo sums up the modern world. Try to listen every so often … you might learn something.

The All About Birds page on Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) says they are:

Handsome aerialists with deep-blue iridescent backs and clean white fronts, Tree Swallows are a familiar sight in summer fields and wetlands across northern North America. They chase after flying insects with acrobatic twists and turns, their steely blue-green feathers flashing in the sunlight. Tree Swallows nest in tree cavities; they also readily take up residence in nest boxes. This habit has allowed scientists to study their breeding biology in detail, and makes them a great addition to many a homeowner’s yard or field.

…Tree Swallows feed on small, aerial insects that they catch in their mouths during acrobatic flight. After breeding, Tree Swallows gather in large flocks to molt and migrate. In the nonbreeding season, they form huge communal roosts.

Read on for more, and if you have a little time, this article on Tree swallow farmer David Winkler is worth a read.

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

More birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Dinner with the Ospreys

Dinner with the Ospreys

Can’t Wait, photo by Jiafan(John) Xu

Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan shares some information about Michigan Osprey:

An Osprey is a large bird with a length of 22-25 inches, a wingspan of 4.5-6 feet, and a weight of approximately four pounds. The Osprey has a dark brown back and a white belly, as well as a white head, which features a dark stripe running from its yellow eyes to the back of its head. Female Ospreys are slightly larger than males and may sport a dark speckled necklace

..The Osprey dines almost exclusively on live fish, often catching its meals by hovering over the water at an altitude of 50 to 200 feet, then diving feet first into the water to catch its prey. The Osprey’s feet are uniquely adapted to “air fishing.” Each Osprey foot has a reversible front toe, as well as barbs, called spicules, which help it hold onto a slippery fish in flight. Normally, an Osprey will aerodynamically position a fish headfirst in its talons before it returns to the nest.

These talons definitely look like fish hooks – read on for more!

View Jiafan’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow where you can also see shots from a trip out west.

More Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Bald Eagle Rescue by Wings of Wonder

via leelanau.com

Wings of Wonder Catching a Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Rescue, photo by Ken Scott Photography

Wings of Wonder is a non-profit raptor sanctuary located in Empire, Michigan that focuses on the rescue and rehabilitation of birds of prey and also in educating people on their role in the natural world. Last weekend, WOW founder & director Rebecca Lessard led a very appropriate rescue for Independence Day. She writes:

Last night I was called in on the rescue of an adult Bald Eagle, down in Manistee County, who had a fishing lure embedded in his left wing, up near the shoulder. With assistance from Law Enforcement Officer P. Wiese I was able to successfully remove the large 3-hook rapella. Due to the severity of the wounds and the poor condition of this eagle it was apparent that the hook had been in his wing for quite a long time, preventing him from flying or eating. He had severe bruising inside his mouth and all around his beak ….most likely from trying to remove the painful hook, and he was extremely dehydrated, thin and very weak. Once we got the hook removed he was transported to Wings of Wonder and given fluids and small bites of clean meat. He spent the night in intensive care and this morning seemed to be feeling a bit better. Even tho he was still quite weak I decided to move him into our large 100 foot flight pen where he could get some fresh air, bathe, eat and rest. He was offered a large chunk of fish which he devoured eagerly.

These kinds of cases truly drive me crazy as they are soooooooooooo preventable. Fishing tackle and fishing line, as well as all other types of garbage and litter that is left behind, can result in a slow death for a variety of wildlife. Remember ALL of our actions result in a consequence … by making responsible choices our actions can help to make this world a more beautiful place … resulting in freedom, independence and health for all … a reminder on this 4th day of July…

(a huge thanks to Ken Scott Photography for the “imagery capture”)

Click to view the entire process from start to finish on Facebook and definitely consider supporting Wings of Wonder!

Red Mohawk: At Home with Michigan’s Pileated Woodpecker

Red Mohawk

Red Mohawk, photo by PK HyperFocal

The All About Birds entry for the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) says in part:

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens.

…The male begins excavating then nest cavity and does most of the work, but the female contributes, particularly as the hole nears completion. The entrance hole is oblong rather than the circular shape of most woodpecker holes. For the finishing touches, the bird climbs all the way into the hole and chips away at it from the inside. Periodically the adult picks up several chips at a time in its bill and tosses them from the cavity entrance. Pileated Woodpeckers don’t line their nests with any material except for leftover wood chips. The nest construction usually takes 3-6 weeks, and nests are rarely reused in later years. Cavity depth can range from 10-24 inches.

Nest trees are typically dead and within a mature or old stand of coniferous or deciduous trees, but may also be in dead trees in younger forests or even in cities. Dead trees are a valuable resource as nest sites or shelter for birds and other animals, and Pileated Woodpeckers battle for ownership with Wood Ducks, European Starlings, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, and Great Crested Flycatchers. Occasionally bats and swifts share roost cavities with Pileated Woodpeckers.

Click through for lots more including calls, Pileated facts, and video.

PK HyperFocal’s photo background big and see more in his Feathers slideshow.

Lots more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Dancing in the Air: Birding Trails & Bird Sanctuaries in Michigan

Egrets Dancing in the Air

Dancing in the Air, photo by Jiafan(John) Xu

I’m pretty sure that these are Great Egrets (Ardea alba) but would appreciate confirmation from any birders in the audience.

On the Pure Michigan blog, Mallory King of the Michigan Audubon Society writes that birding is currently the second fastest growing hobby in the United States after gardening with over 47 million people identifying as birdwatchers. She shares some great Michigan birding trails and sanctuaries to help you get going with birding:

The Superior Birding Trail: This trail covers 150 miles in the Upper Peninsula from the Seney National Wildlife Refuge to Whitefish Point; you can observe over 300 bird species here.

The Sleeping Bear Birding Trail: The SBBT West which the trial is commonly referred too, includes 123 miles from Manistee to Traverse City along the scenic M-22 highway and Lake Michigan shoreline; here over 250 bird species can be observed.

The Beaver Island Birding Trail: Located entirely on Lake Michigan’s largest island, encompasses over 100 miles of road and 12,000 acres of natural habitat; over 250 bird species can be spotted on this adventurous trail.

The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail: Also known as SBBT East, takes travelers 142 miles along the Lake Huron shoreline from Port Crescent State Park to Tawas Point State Park, the trail is home to over 200 bird species and an abundance of quaint Michigan towns.

Read on for a list of the sanctuaries and more at Pure Michigan.

John took this last month, presumably in the Keweenaw area. View his photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Lots more Michigan birds on Michigan in Pictures!

Michigan’s Bird of Fire: Saving the Kirtland’s Warbler

Michigan Bird of Fire Kirtlands Warbler

Kirtland’s Warbler, photo by James Fox

On June 3-4, northeast Michigan will celebrate a Michigan conservation success story with the annual Kirtland’s Warbler Weekend that includes an Au Sable River Kayak Tour. You can also lend a hand this Saturday with the annual jack pine planting day through the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative!

The Detroit News has a nice editorial by Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior about how determination saved Michigan’s “Bird of Fire”, the Kirtland’s Warbler:

More than 60 years ago, scientists realized that the Kirtland’s warbler was in trouble. A 1951 census found fewer than 500 breeding pairs. The bird was among the first species ever listed as endangered and was the first species to ever have a “recovery team.”

Kirtland’s warblers will only nest in young jack pine forest. Jack pine requires fire to open its cones and spread its seeds — hence the nickname, “bird of fire.” Fire suppression policies last century led to the decline of the Kirtland’s warbler, as did parasitism from brown-headed cowbirds. The recovery team had to figure out a way to overcome these challenges to save the species.

Since 1974, the Kirtland’s Warbler Recovery Team has worked to save the species, even when the outlook for recovery was bleak. The recovery team brought together federal, state, academic, nonprofit, and even international partners.

Today, scientists estimate there are more than 4,000 Kirtland’s warblers in Michigan. The population has more than doubled its recovery goal, so the recovery team is no longer needed. Through years of hard work the partners figured out how to provide the conditions necessary for the warblers to survive, and the birds have flourished.

View James’ photo background big and see more in his Grayling 2009 slideshow.