Monday, January 31, 2011

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk I.D. 101 ... (plus mature Bald Eagle)

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Every angle one might need to positively I.D. a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk . (Please send tuition costs to my home address.)  Plus one mature Bald Eagle.

Mike VanderStelt
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Northern Pintail at Wastewater

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Sunday January 30 Email:

Ric,

I have seen this Northern Pintail at the Wastewater a couple of times now. Also several Red-breasted Mergansers in Muskegon Channel, but they have been too far away to get nice pictures.

Rick Hamlin


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Birding and Feeder Comments - Brian

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My Sunday (Jan. 30) birding excursion followed the same route as last Tuesday, and the results were similar, with a few pleasant exceptions. Ice now extends several miles offshore, but large pools of open water break up the monotony. From fall to spring, Bald Eagles regularly hunt the large rafts of foraging waterfowl. Before the ice forms, they expend considerable energy flapping, as their quarry typically remains a couple miles offshore. Now, they simply perch on the ice and occasionally peruse the duck flocks with a leisurely fly-by. The best counts of Long-tailed Ducks can be obtained when eagles force an entire raft from one open lead to another. Plus, with the diminishment of open water, the Long-tails are clustering more. Today's count, 4750, was my highest so far this winter. Their numbers have been consistently down along Muskegon this year. Other ducks, especially Red-breasted Mergansers, are also less numerous than last winter. A flock of 95 Snow Buntings at Muskegon State Park was my highest total so far this year.

The best bird at White Lake Channel was a female Black Scoter, seen by Kathryn Mork and me. At Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, Carol Cooper and I found two male Red-winged Blackbirds. These individuals, unbanded old males, were the first since November 28. Carol and Lois's diligence at keeping the feeders filled have now produced at least five out-of-season species there.

Evidence that the feeders are aiding the survival of certain birds is evinced by a particular Downy Woodpecker. On November 18, I banded a male Downy whose leg did not seem to grasp well. I noted it as a possible dislocation, processed it anyway, and released it. The leg injury was verified by subsequent observations (assuming it was the same bird), as it some difficulty clinging to some vertical trunks. Since leg injuries in woodpeckers are rare, I wondered about its survival. Fortunately, that individual is still making the rounds at the station, but it is still favoring one leg over another.

No doubt however, the impact of feeders cuts both ways. Outside my home in Norton Shores, where almost every backyard in the neighborhood has bird feeders, I have been seeing "sick" birds. Such signs include eyes that are not fully open, fluffing, extended stays at a feeder, sluggishness, orientation with the wind, late departures, separation from cohorts, and in extreme cases ignorance of predators, obvious listlessness, head bobbing, gaping or coughing, and weak flights. Problems had been restricted to House Sparrows. When I noticed a Tufted Titmouse that was feeding at my feeder (something very atypical for a Chickadee or Titmouse), I knew I had a problem. I opened a net and caught it. While the bird was not particularly light (90% of average mass, probably due to a very full gizzard), it had minimal fat deposits and only 25% of maximal flight muscle bulk. After release, it continued to feed in the same fashion for the rest of the day, and I have not seen it since.

I have encountered problems at feeders whenever House Sparrow densities (and to a lesser extent House Finches) get high. Consequently, I discourage the use of millet, which House Sparrows seem to prefer (though they do eat sunflower seeds). Millet is also more likely to fall to the ground, which is harder to keep sanitary than a feeder. Because most non-birders prefer to use millet and may be less diligent with keeping the feeders clean, feeding can often be a break-even proposition. Increased survival due to food availability may be offset by increased predation and disease transmission. Trying to reduce the spread of diseases by cutting the flow of seed at healthy feeders (thereby reducing aggregations and forcing birds revert to natural foods) may even exacerbate the situation, since most birds will simply move to other feeders in the neighborhood (often less sanitary ones). Practices that do help include regular feeder cleaning, keeping fairly small rations of food in a feeder (which discourages feces accumulation and encourages cleaning), discouraging squirrels (which spill lots of seed, especially millet) and maintaining a fresh supply of water for drinking and bathing.

Brian Johnson
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Wastewater Sunday

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Beautiful day to get out and see some birds. Hope others had more luck than I, as the lack of birds even had a Bald Eagle scratching his head.

He did try to have a duck dinner but it wasn't to be.




Lots of Snow Buntings (yes, Mike, I know there is only 1 pictured).

Did see a few Rough-legged Hawks and a young Red-tail, too.

Don Neumann

Black-legged Kittiwake at Grand Haven

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Some people phoned Feller DeWitt Saturday (Jan. 29) to report a Black-legged Kittiwake that afternoon at the west end of the Grand Haven Channel.  This afternoon (Jan. 30) Feller went looking for the bird and spotted it in the channel from the north side not very far west of the fisherman's parking lot.

THANK YOU! to whomever first found the bird on Saturday.  If you happen to read this report, will you please contact Feller or me.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

White Lake and MLNP, Jan. 25

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Checking White Lake Channel, this afternoon (Jan. 25), I saw:

1 Canvasback (9 were at Pere Marquette on Jan. 23)
9 Redhead
1 female Surf Scoter (a male was also there on Jan. 19)
1 female White-winged Scoter
1 Red-headed Woodpecker
4 Pine Siskin
various other ducks, with Common Goldeneye being the most numerous (463).

I then stopped at Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.  Lois Behrends and Carol Cooper have been doing a great job at keeping the feeders filled.  Consequently, some of my counts there this winter have been the highest ever (36 House Finches were notable). Of interest were:

1 White-crowned Sparrow (immature) - rare in Muskegon County during the winter
1 Song Sparrow

Both of these birds were not banded, nor had they been noted in December, so I suspect they arrived in the last few weeks. Most other species are prominently showing their jewelry.

In the Muskegon River, there were 3 Tundra Swans (others could be heard west of the Cobb Plant) and 2 Great Blue Herons.

- Brian Johnson
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Two Snipe at Wastewater Monday


Ric,

I saw a pair of these birds at the Wastewater today (1/24/11) and cannot ID them.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I am leaning towards Wilson's Snipe.

Thank you,

Rick Hamlin

Rick,

Thanks for the photo!  They sure look like snipe.  Perhaps a better question is what are they doing here this time of year?  I've emailed a few birders to have a look and leave comments if they care to.  Yours is another good example of a photo that should be clicked and then clicked again to really see the birds up close and personal.  Thanks again for sending!

- Ric
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Birds at the Wastewater Sunday

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Sunday sunshine brought out lots of birds at the Wastewater today (1-23).  Several Short-eared Owls by the R.C. field. They don't really like all the snowmobile traffic!  An Eastern Screech-Owl soaking up some warmth in the barn window to the west. At least 6 Bald Eagles north and south of Apple Ave.  Hawks were just starting to get numerous around 3:00 when I had to depart.

Pictured:  Eastern Screech-Owl (gray morph), a pair of Mute Swans (eyeing me if you look closely), and a Tufted Titmouse at the Administration feeder.

Everyone remember to respect the birds.  Don't get so close as you scare them from their roosts.  They're in the weather 24/7 and need to conserve energy to survive; especially with temps like this weekend.

- Don Neumann
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Surf Scoter Still at Grand Haven

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I got a call late in the afternoon on Jan 18 from Dave Herdegen telling me the Surf Scoter was in the Grand Haven Channel by the north fisherman's parking lot. I was able to get this shot before it flew to the mouth of the channel.

- Charlie DeWitt
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Birds at Wastewater Wednesday

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Lots of action at the Wastewater today (Jan 12No Goldens, though 12 Bald Eagles (4 maturessoaring above the dump and landing on the East Lagoon.  I also saw a pair of Red-tailed Hawks.  Short-eared Owls seen as in previous reports, not very active as it was quite windy. Also lots of Snow Buntings and American Tree Sparrows.

- Don Neumann




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Short-eared Owls at Wastewater

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Rick Hamlin saw four Short-eared Owls on the south Wastewater properties today including this one.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

White Lake Harlequin Continues

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Hi Ric,

Post this or not as you like since it's a day old, but the adult male Harlequin Duck at the White Lake Channel continues.  The bird was mid-channel on the Montague side @ 8:45 yesterday morning (Jan. 10), moving out to the Lake Michigan end of the pier shortly thereafter.  The bird has been sticking pretty close to the channel providing some really great looks.

- Jill Henemyer

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Thayer's Gull at Wastewater Jan. 9

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To Mich-Chat regarding January 9:

I stopped at Chase Lake in Kent County and did not find the reported Golden Eagle. I also stopped at the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment Facility and did not find the Golden Eagle but had a very cooperative adult Thayer's Gull on the NE corner of the larger western cell with 400 Canada Geese and about 300 Herring Gulls.

- Brian Allen
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Long-tailed Ducks and White-winged Scoter


These Long-tailed Ducks and White-winged Scoter were at Pere Marquette Park Sunday (Jan 9th) just north of the lighthouse.

Mike Boston

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snowy Owl Etc. at Pere Marquette Park

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To Mich-Listers Sunday Jan. 9:

A Snowy Owl was seen at about 2:30 this afternoon at Pere Marquette Park, Muskegon.  Other birds of note included White-winged Scoter (at least 3 individuals), a good number of Long-tailed Ducks and many Greater Scaup.  Harlequin Duck and Western Grebe were not seen here or at Grand Haven.  I should also mention that there were at least 3 Purple Sandpiper on the Muskegon breakwall today.

- Mark Robinson
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beautiful Day at the Wastewater

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It was great that so many birders were able to see the Short-eared Owls today. I am only going to post one owl picture because I promised I would post one. Mike's pictures are great. The American Kestrel was on Moorland Road and the Snow Buntings were on Swanson Road north of White.

- Charlie DeWitt
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Ross's, Short-eareds & Redtail at Wastewater

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These were taken at the Wastwater today -- Ross's Goose is flying over the mixers, the Red-tailed Hawk is flying over Swanson Road by Apple, and the Short Eared Owls were, of course, at the Swanson/Laketon intersection. Also on a side note -- the Mouse/Vole just didn't want to be there AT ALL! :)  The rest are in the following post.
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Mike VanderStelt
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Ross's Goose, Short Eared Owls, Red-tailed Hawk ... Continued

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These are the rest of the shots.

Mike VanderStelt
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Purple Sandpiper - South Breakwall

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I found the Purple Sandpiper today along the south pier at Pere Marquette Park 100 feet or so out from shore on the south side of the pier.

- Charlie DeWitt
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Friday, January 7, 2011

Good Birds at Wastewater Friday - DeWitts

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Carol and I had five Short-eared Owls on the Wastewater properties at the corner of Swanson and Laketon by the model airplane field between 4:30 and 5:00 this afternoon (Jan. 7).

- Charlie DeWitt

(Feller and Dee DeWitt saw two Lapland Longspurs mixed in with a flock of Snow Buntings today just off the road at Maple Island and White.  Then they went over to the goose flock and found the previously reported Ross's Goose.  - Ric )
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Lotsa Good Birds Seen on Friday

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Today Andy Johnson, Neil Gilbert and I went birding in the Muskegon area. We had the 1st year drake Harlequin Duck at Grand Haven along with the Surf and White-winged Scoters.  At Pere Marquette we had 3 Purple Sandpipers, one female-type Harlequin Duck, White-winged and Black Scoters.  At Wastewater we had the 2 Northern Pintails, a 3rd-cycle Glaucous Gull, and great looks at 3 Short-eared Owls.

-  Jonathan Lautenbach
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Scoters at Grand Haven Wednesday

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White-winged and Surf Scoter at Grand Haven north pier Wed. morning.  I left just in time to miss the Red-throated and Common Loons. (south pier).

- Charlie DeWitt
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Golden Eagle shots from Wed. at Wastewater

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This Golden Eagle really seems to have a thing for those wires -- wouldn't stay away from them all day -- oh well.

Mike VanderStelt
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I counter Feller's offer with -- Ross's Goose YES!

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     Feller may not have noticed, but his rival (Brother Charlie) arrived and spotted the Ross's Goose in a matter of minutes -- FINDING it in the same place I was just looking and NOT finding it! (oh the Humanity).  So these shots have to be credited to "Sir Charles" for bringing the Ross's to my attention. They're only I.D. quality as it was 5:30 and cloudy when we shot them -- but I figured he needed to "rub it in", so here they are along with a few Golden Eagle, and what Ric I.D.'d as an immature Red-shouldered Hawk. Thanks everyone for "holding my hand" today, at least everyone BUT Feller -- he could have let me in on the short-eared's :)
     The Golden Eagle shots will be in the next post as they wouldn't load into this one.

- Mike VanderStelt
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Harlequin Duck White Lake Channel Today

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Norma Nesbit emails that the Harlequin Duck previously reported in the White Lake Channel last Sunday was there at 1:30 today (Jan. 5).  For a half hour it swam with a White-winged Scoter.  Norma may send photos later.  At 4:30 she went back and saw the harlequin again, still at the White Lake end of the channel, as well as 5 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hooded Merganser, a Red-breasted Merganser and many other species.

- Ric
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Ross's Goose No, Other Stuff Yes at the Wastewater on Wednesday

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    2 Northern Pintails where the Ross's Goose was supposed to be.
    250+ Snow Buntings at the grainery.
    5 Short-eared Owls 5:00 p.m. at the corner of Swanson and Laketon and very tame.
    8 Eastern Bluebirds on the wires by the cedar trees on the west end of Laketon.
    1 dark morph Rough-legged hawk at the west end of Laketon.
    And the wife was there to verify the count.

          - Feller DeWitt
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Good Birds Reported Today on Mich-Listers


    With the help of 2 birders whose names I didn't get, I viewed a Western Grebe at the end of the south pier at Grand Haven; I was standing 1/2 way down the south pier and the bird was on the south side of it.  Also with their help, I viewed the Harlequin Duck which was hanging rather tight to the north side of the north pier; not very conveniently viewed from the base of the north pier.
    At the end of my short jaunt, and from the parking lot near the north pier, a Western Grebe flew west down the channel towards the end of the piers.  Was this the reported 2nd grebe or did the other one move around a bit while I searched for the Harlequin?
    2 Horned Grebes, 1 adult male White-winged Scoter, 1 adult male Surf Scoter, 1 female Hooded Merganser, and a Long-tailed Duck along with the other typical fare made for a nice (and cold) outing.
    As you can imagine the piers are nearly completely ice-covered and rather treacherous; use caution!
    Good birding,
          - Mike Overway
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There was a Ross's Goose with 1000 Canada Geese near the Administration Building today at the Muskegon County Wastewater System.

          - John Lowry (from my iPhone)
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Harlequin Duck & Western Grebe at G.H.

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To Mich-Listers (Jan. 4):

This morning from 11:00 to 11:30 I had one of the Western Grebes at the previously described location in the Grand Haven channel.  In addition, I had a first winter male Harlequin Duck 1/4 of the way out the pier in the channel just a few minutes later.

- Jon Vande Kopple
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Just a Bald Eagle from a few days back

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Here's a photo of a Bald Eagle at Wastewater last week sometime.

- Mike VanderStelt
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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Three Sunday Photos of Golden Eagle

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I followed the Golden Eagles at the Wastewater for about an hour Sunday morning (Jan. 2) and finally one landed as the sun came out for a few seconds.

- Don Neumann
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