Friday Yoga: Crane Position

Crane stretching, photo by Mark Zacks

It’s important to stay loose!

View Mark’s photo background big and see more in his slideshow.

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Killdeer, photo by Jeff Dehmel

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.

View the photo background big and see more springtime goodness in Jeff’s slideshow.

More Michigan birds and more summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!

Love is in the Air

Love is in the Air, photo by Julie

Julie caught this pair of cardinals earlier this week. Definitely a lot of this going on out there!!

View the photo bigger and see more in her Birds slideshow.

 

One Moment

Untitled, photo by Jiafan (John) Xu

I’m pretty sure that the bird John has captured so perfectly is a Great Egret. Fittingly, the egret tag on Michigan in Pictures includes another stunning photo by John of Great Egrets in flight along with all kinds of info about this beautiful bird.

View his photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler, photo by Jeff Dehmel

Jeff’s back with another bird everyone! I couldn’t resist – the colors on this are so perfectly April!! Here’s a couple of facts on the Yellow-rumped Warbler from All About Birds:

Yellow-rumped Warblers are impressive in the sheer numbers with which they flood the continent each fall. Shrubs and trees fill with the streaky brown-and-yellow birds and their distinctive, sharp chips. Though the color palette is subdued all winter, you owe it to yourself to seek these birds out on their spring migration or on their breeding grounds. Spring molt brings a transformation, leaving them a dazzling mix of bright yellow, charcoal gray and black, and bold white.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is the only warbler able to digest the waxes found in bayberries and wax myrtles. Its ability to use these fruits allows it to winter farther north than other warblers, sometimes as far north as Newfoundland.

They’re the warbler you’re most likely to see fluttering out from a tree to catch a flying insect, and they’re also quick to switch over to eating berries in fall. Other places Yellow-rumped Warblers have been spotted foraging include picking at insects on washed-up seaweed at the beach, skimming insects from the surface of rivers and the ocean, picking them out of spiderwebs, and grabbing them off piles of manure.

The oldest recorded Yellow-rumped Warbler was at least 7 years old.

View the photo background big and see more in Jeff’s Holloway Reservoir slideshow (where you’ll see his photo of a bald eagle from not long ago).

More spring wallpaper and more birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Pheasant Friday: Ring-necked Pheasant Breeding Habits

Ringnecked Pheasant, photo by Tim Carter

This pheasant is ready for the weekend, Ladies! All About Birds has all the details on the very colorful Ring-necked Pheasant including information about their breeding season which is going on right now:

Male Ring-necked Pheasants establish breeding territories in early spring. A male maintains sovereignty over his acreage by crowing and calling; he approaches intruders with head and tail erect, and may tear up grass that he then tosses. Competitors sometimes resort to physical combat. After a series of escalating threat displays, fighting cocks flutter upward, breast to breast, and bite at each other’s wattles. They may take turns leaping at each other with bill, claws, and spurs deployed. Usually the challenger runs away before long, and these fights are rarely fatal. Females assemble in breeding groups focused on a single male and his territory.

The cock courts the hen with a variety of displays—strutting or running; spreading his tail and the wing closest to her while erecting the red wattles around his eyes and the feather-tufts behind his ears. He also “tidbits”—poses with head low while calling her to a morsel of food. A female may flee at first, leading the male on a chase punctuated by courtship displays. Males guard their groups of females from the advances of other males.

Like many birds, Ring-necked Pheasants take frequent dust baths, raking their bills and scratching at the ground, shaking their wings to sweep dust and sand into their feathers, lying on their sides and rubbing their heads. Dust-bathing probably removes oil, dirt, parasites, dead skin cells, old feathers, and the sheaths of new feathers.

View the photo from near Attica, Michigan bigger on Facebook.

More birds on Michigan in Pictures.

Bonaparte’s Gull

bonapartes-gull

Bonaparte’s Gull, photo by Zach Frieben

All About Birds has this to say about Bonaparte’s Gull:

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 (north of us in Canada)

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.

View Zach’s photo from Noah Lake in Three Rivers background big and see more in his Migrating MI Birds slideshow.