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.

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.

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.

Hanging around with an Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl, photo by Kevin Povenz

All About Birds’ entry for the Eastern Screech Owl (Megascops asio) says in part:

If a mysterious trill catches your attention in the night, bear in mind the spooky sound may come from an owl no bigger than a pint glass. Common east of the Rockies in woods, suburbs, and parks, the Eastern Screech-Owl is found wherever trees are, and they’re even willing to nest in backyard nest boxes. These supremely camouflaged birds hide out in nooks and tree crannies through the day, so train your ears and listen for them at night.

The Eastern Screech-Owl is a short, stocky bird, with a large head and almost no neck. Its wings are rounded; its tail is short and square. Pointed ear tufts are often raised, lending its head a distinctive silhouette.

Eastern Screech-Owls can be either mostly gray or mostly reddish-brown (rufous). Whatever the overall color, they are patterned with complex bands and spots that give the bird excellent camouflage against tree bark. Eyes are yellow.

Eastern Screech-Owls are active at night and are far more often heard than seen—most bird watchers know this species only from its trilling or whinnying song. However, this cavity-roosting owl can be attracted to nest boxes or, if you’re sharp-eyed, spotted in daylight at the entrance to its home in a tree cavity.

Read on for more including screech owl calls.

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

More owls on Michigan in Pictures.

Must be a Monday: Be Yourself Blue Heron Edition

Great Blue Heron Leaving Roost

Great Blue Heron Leaving its Roost, photo by Rodney Campbell

Hope you have a wonderful week, even if you look a little goofy at times. ;)

The Michigan Natural Features Inventory entry for Great Blue Heron Rookeries explains:

The great blue herons in Michigan are largely migratory, with almost all leaving the state during the winter months. Most leave by end of October and return in early to mid-March.

The great blue heron is mostly a colonial nester, occasionally they nest in single pairs. Colonies are typically found in lowland swamps, islands, upland hardwoods and forests adjacent to lakes, ponds and rivers. Nests are usually in trees and may be as high as 98 ft. (30 m) or more from the ground. The platform like nests are constructed out of medium-sized sticks and materials may be added throughout the nesting cycle. Nests are usually lined with finer twigs, leaves, grass, pine needles, moss, reeds, or dry gras. The same nests are refurbished and used year after year.

Most great blue herons return to southern Michigan heronries in mid-March although a few may remain through the winter if there are areas of open water. Courtship and nest building commences from early April in southern Michigan to early May in the extreme northern portions of the state. Both sexes are involved in the nest building process with males primarily gathering sticks from the ground, nearby trees, or ungarded nearby nests.

More about Great Blue Herons on Michigan in Pictures.

View Rodney’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Birds slideshow.