Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday: No Woodpeckers, No Owls

I added six new species to my Year List this morning from the Muskegon Channel to Lakeside Cemetary to the Five Lakes to the Wastewater.

Aside from the many Mallards and Common Goldeneyes near the channel, "better ducks" were Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers and one Long-tailed Duck near the inner red lighthouse by the Coast Guard station.

I couldn't find Carol's woodpecker (see post below) in three slow circles of Lakeside Cemetary, but I almost ran over five Wild Turkeys in Carr Road just beyond the Five Lakes.

No owls were visible at the Wastewater.  Horned Larks fed here and there on the roads and fields.  I saw four Bald Eagles (1 adult), a Red-tailed Hawk, two light-morph Rough-legged Hawks, an American Kestrel, dozens of American Crows (but no ravens) and a flock of ten Cedar Waxwings by the headquarters building.  

- Ric

Friday: A Good Woodpecker Day

January 29 Email:

This is just one of several species of woodpecker I saw today: a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker at Lakeside Cemetary in Muskegon.  - Carol Cooper

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Screech Owl and Ruffed Grouse Near Fremont

January 26 Email:

Terra Berry from the Fremont area writes, "Yesterday my husband came upon a delightful surprise.  A year ago we put up this box hoping to entice a kestrel, but we ended up with this beautiful lil Eastern Screech-Owl!".

She sent other photographs taken this month including this of two Ruffed Grouse.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Red-shouldered Hawk, Fox Sparrow, Towhee

Today's field trip recorded 26 species on the Muskegon County Wastewater properties in the morning and 16 species at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve shortly after noon.  Details and pictures are posted on our homepage.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Cedar Waxwings

January 22 Email:

Tonight we had over 30 Cedar Waxwings visit our front yard north of Ravenna.   - Casey Irwin

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pine Siskins Near Ravenna

January 19 Email:

Finally got some Pine Siskins at my feeder north of Ravenna!  I was just talking to my mom about not seeing any and wishing some were at the feeder.  Not 10 minutes later, one appears.  There are at least 7 at my feeder now.  New lifer for me!

- Casey Irwin

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ravens and Snow Buntings at the Wastewater

I birded the Wastewater this morning looking for some stuff I hadn't seen yet this year.  Despite its being pretty quiet (few birds, no humans),  I did add four year species bringing my 2016 total to 38 (for anyone who's counting).

Absent were any owls, shrikes or longspurs.  Present were 18 species including 2 light-morph Rough-legged Hawks, 50 American Tree Sparrows, 3 Horned Larks, a female American Kestrel, 2 Common Ravens (along Swanson east of the East Lagoon) and 4 Snow Buntings (a half mile north of the ravens).

- Ric

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Common Redpoll in Ottawa County Tuesday

Ken Sapkowski emailed this photo of a Common Redpoll ("the first this year in Ottawa County") in his backyard yesterday (Jan. 12, '16).

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Norton Shores Banding, Coyote and Thrush

After I close the banding station at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve (usually in late November), I switch to netting in my Norton Shores backyard as acceptable weather and free time allow. Over the last five winters, the most common species have been Dark-eyed Junco (468), American Goldfinch (195), Northern Cardinal (59), Black-capped Chickadee (49), and House Finch (33). A few surprises sometimes occur (such as a Chipping Sparrow captured during February 2014), and overall, winter banding has yielded 19 species. This compares favorably to my average annual contribution of 16 species to the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Six species of neighborhood raptors (Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks, Merlin, and Great Horned Owls) put some pressure on the local birds, but mammalian predators, including cats, are fortunately much less common. However, this coyote examining the feeders on January 9 demonstrates that surprises are not limited to birds.

The smallest, but the most cold-hardy of the spotted thrushes in Michigan, the Hermit Thrush occurs chiefly during migration in Muskegon County. Based on captures from the fall banding station, the first birds appear during the last week of September, peak passage averages October 11, and most stragglers depart during the first week of November. However, some Hermit Thrushes breed in Muskegon County on conifer-dominated tracts within the Manistee National Forest. Moreover, while the species is not a regular winter resident, individuals may be found during even the worst winters, as long as sufficient stocks of berries persist (both native and exotic species are consumed). I have encountered solitary birds for the last three years, but this individual (on January 6) was the first for Black Lake Park. Its retained greater coverts indicate that it hatched last summer.

- Brian Johnson

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Long-tailed Ducks Off Pere Marquette Park

January 8 Email:

The Long-tailed Ducks are back at Pere Marquette, as far to the left and to the right as I could see.  Might be some other ducks mixed in off the artificial reef.

- Feller DeWitt

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bluebirds at the Nature Preserve

January 7 Email:

There was a pair of Eastern Bluebirds today at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.  They were around for quite awhile until a Cooper's Hawk made an appearance and everyone scattered.

- Carol Cooper

Snowy Owls Along Moorland Road

A few days ago Ken Sapkowski reported a Snowy Owl on Moorland Rd.  I drove Moorland today and found this one just south of Hile Rd.   About a half mile north there was a second Snowy Owl on a silo on the west side of Moorland Rd.

Charlie DeWitt

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Roughleg, Buntings and Lark at Wastewater

January 6 Email:

Some good birds today at the Wastewater.

- Carol Cooper

Rough-legged Hawk, Snow Buntings and Horned Lark

New Information Posted on Our Homepage

We've posted several articles of possible interest on our homepage this week: (1) January 21 program information, (2) January 23 field trip information, (3) Brian's December 17 Wastewater Christmas Bird Count Report and (4) Ric's December 19 City of Muskegon CBC Report.

Monday, January 4, 2016

More Aerial Acrobatics, Etc.

 Bald Eagles (one has a band)

Banded Herring Gull

Good day at the Grand Haven North Pier: I had 4 Bald Eagles, 10 Great Black-backed Gulls, 2 Glaucous Gulls, 70 Herring Gulls, 20 Ring-billed Gulls, 1 American Black Duck, 13 Mallards and 4 American Crows.

- Charlie DeWitt

Red-tailed Hawk with Blue Jay

Yesterday in his front yard Dan Lockard photographed this Red-tailed Hawk with a Blue Jay.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

American Crow vs. Northern Harrier !

 An American Crow sizing up a Northern Harrier.

 Coming in for the attack!

 Oops, the harrier has a wingman!

 The crow wisely decides to break off combat.

Victory Roll (or maybe they just don't get along).

- Charlie DeWitt

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Good Start to My 2016 List !

 Eastern Towhee Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve

 Northern Cardinal Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve

 Tundra Swan flyover Muskegon County Wastewater

Lapland Longspur Moorland Rd. north of Hile Rd.
(Large flocks of Horned Larks with a few longspurs mixed in.)

- Charlie DeWitt

Towhee and Wigeon on New Years Day

Several of us birded from 8:00 this morning into the early afternoon looking for birds to begin our New Year Lists.  Ten species from the south breakwall at Pere Marquette Park to the east end of the Muskegon Channel, none noteworthy.

Fifteen species at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve highlighted by the male Eastern Towhee "talking" and hopping around in the low branches near the bridge at the entrance (see Charlie DeWitt's photo above; Carol Cooper's photo below is probably of the same bird).

Twenty-two species on the Wastewater properties including three brown Northern Harriers, an American Wigeon among the Mallards and Gadwalls in a rapid-filtration lagoon just south of White Road north of the West Lagoon, and a first-year White-crowned Sparrow along the entrance driveway to the headquarters. (Not to mention Charlie's Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs above which he found after I left ... grrrr!)

- Ric