Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Golden Eagles Finally Reported at Wastewater

Thanks to Ken Sapkowski for emailing us several reports (Jim Zervos, Stan Lilley, Miles McNally, Gerry Ziarno) from Friday through Sunday of at least two Golden Eagles at the Muskegon County Wastewater properties.  I think they've been seen at the WW every winter for the last ten years, but this is the first I'd heard of them this year.

- Ric

Saturday, January 13, 2018

British Photographer Visited Recently

January 13 Email:


While visiting Grand Rapids from the UK over Christmas and New Year, I was privileged to visit the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Plant to attempt some wildlife photography.

I was fortunate to see some Bald Eagles and a beautiful Snowy Owl; however, I got some shots of another bird that I am struggling to identify and wondered if you could help me.

I thought it might have been a Rough-legged Hawk; however, there is no clear barring on the tail, so I am at a loss to say what the bird is.

I am attaching the photos I took, but they are not great (dark bird against bright background), and I have had to tweak them quite a bit.

Any help you can offer would be most appreciated.

Thanks for your time


Eddie Conway


Mr. Conway figured correctly, Rough-legged Hawk (dark morph).  According to Jerry Liguori's Hawks from Every Angle, "many" adult male Rough-legged Hawks have "multiple narrow black bands" in their tails" (so not "all"), and his photographs on page 75 of flying dark-morph roughlegs seen from below show everything from very visible bands to no visible bands at all.  Thanks to Mr. Conway for the report and photos!   - Ric

Thursday, January 11, 2018

January Baths

 House Finches

 House Finches and Pine Siskin on right

Pine Siskin

While I was watching my feeders this afternoon, I noticed birds on my plant stand.  It had water in it and the birds were taking baths, so I took some pictures.  When I downloaded the pictures, I saw that one bird was a Pine Siskin, #47 for the year.  I also had Dark-eyed Juncos and American Goldfinch taking baths.

- Charlie DeWitt

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Meadowlark and Glaucous Gull

January 6 Email:

I saw a Meadowlark, presumably an Eastern but I didn't hear it sing, on Swanson Rd about halfway between White Rd and Apple Ave today. There was also a Glaucous Gull among a group of Herring Gulls on the east lagoon near the landfill. 

- Mike Boston

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Snowy Owl on Saturday's CBC

December 26:  Ethan Kibbey sends us this photo of a Snowy Owl taken with the Central Group (see post below) on Saturday's Muskegon CBC near the Hartshorn Marina bike trail.

Snowy Owl by Ethan Kibbey

Sunday, December 24, 2017

City of Muskegon Christmas Bird Count


Yesterday (Dec. 23) three groups of birders censused a 15-mile circle (centered downtown) on our annual City of Muskegon Christmas Bird Count.  When the final numbers are compiled, we'll post them here.

The "bird of the day" was this Marsh Wren found by the Central Group near the abandoned B.C. Cobb Plant and photographed by Ethan Kibbey:

The South Group found two Common Ravens at the Wood Road bridge near Black Lake.

Nothing exotic was found by the North Group, but Carol Cooper took these photos on the Muskegon State Park walk from Snug Harbor to the Muskegon Channel:

Some of us met for lunch near the spiral (and possibly haunted) staircase in the Cherokee Restaurant.

- Ric

One-Quarter of the Wastewater CBC

On Wednesday Dec. 20 at least a dozen people helped Brian Johnson with the annual Muskegon Wastewater Christmas Bird Count.  When more data is compiled, I'll post it here.

At the moment I have just the numbers that Jim Zervos and I collected from 8:30-11:40 a.m. driving 24 miles in the Northeast Quadrant, a "piece of pie" with its point at the intersection of Ravenna Road (Newaygo Rd-35) and White Road and its "outer crust" curving from just north of Bridgeton east and south to Bailey.

- Ric

swan sp. (Cygnus sp.)  2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  5
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)  11
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia)  3
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  63
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  5
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  22
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  20
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  6
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)  6
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  45
American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)  18   
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  9
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  6
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  12
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  33

Friday, December 22, 2017

Snowy Owl at Grand Haven Friday

This Snowy Owl was at the Grand Haven Channel for a while in the late afternoon.  There was too much foot traffic so after about 45 minutes, the owl took off.

- Charlie DeWitt

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hermit Thrush and Yellow-rumped Warbler

December 19 Email:

Tracy and I had this Hermit Thrush at the house yesterday and we have a continuing Yellow-rumped Warbler too.  Haven’t been able to get a decent picture of the warbler yet.

- Jim Zervos

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Three Snowy Owls at Muskegon State Park

 Snowy Owls
These two were on the north breakwall
about 100 meters from the end.

 Snowy Owl
This one was on the north inner arm.
It flew to the south pier for a few minutes,
then took off for parts unknown.

All pictures were taken from the south inner arm.

- Charlie DeWitt

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Peregrine and Goshawk on Saturday

November 29 Email:

Attached are two photos from Saturday at the Wastewater.  One is a Peregrine Falcon with a Mallard it had taken seconds before Marcia and I arrived.  The other is a member of a local falconer club with a Gyrfalcon.  We talked with the man awhile in the grass cells.  He didn't fly the bird because of the wind.
- Phil Willemstein

Wednesday Morning at Black Lake Park

 White-breasted Nuthatch

 Hairy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Yesterday I spent two hours at Black Lake Park.  It was a beautiful morning to be outside.  Not many birds, but some of them let me take their pictures.

- Charlie DeWitt

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Great Black-backed Gulls at Grand Haven

Great Black-backed Gull

There were three adult Great Black-backed Gulls at Grand Haven State Park this morning.

- Charlie DeWitt

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Long Birding Caravan on Caleb's DNR Trip

Over 45 people in 21 vehicles followed Caleb Putnam on his Michigan DNR Field Trip around the Wastewater lagoons this morning.  It was by far the most vehicles I've ever seen driving together while actively bird-watching.

There were not as many birds, particularly waterbirds, as we had hoped for.  Among the notables were a young Bald Eagle panicking the duck flocks over the east lagoon, two American Black Ducks, a Long-tailed Duck and hundreds of Snow Buntings foraging on and flying around the center dike.

- Ric

Saturday, November 11, 2017

No Fox Sparrow at Hemlock Crossing

Following some recent Ottawa County eBird reports of Fox Sparrow, I drove down to Hemlock Crossing this morning with hopes of seeing one.  No such luck.  I did, however, see Phil Willemstein, Marcia Fellows, and a few dozen birds of ten species at the feeders including five American Tree Sparrows

Hairy Woodpecker pair by Phil Willemstein

Blue Jay
- Ric