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A Michigan Big Year, Weeks 9 and 10

πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Weeks 9 and 10, February 26-March 11:

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and I have not spotted any new species of birds, so I held off posting a week. My list of birds for weeks 9 and 10 include:

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ Black-capped chickadees

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ American Crows

πŸ‘€ European Starlings

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ White Breasted Nuthatch

πŸ‘€ Red Breasted Nuthatch

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves

πŸ‘€Dark Eyed-Juncos

I’m also going to start listing the birds for the week, rather than by day for the most part. If I have a week where I see a lot of different birds, I may list them out by day, but listing them out by day when I’m seeing the same birds over and over again just gets repetitive and doesn’t seem necessary. My total species so far for this year remains at 20.

Favorite Moment of the Past couple of weeks:

When a tufted titmouse landed on a feeder near our house and stayed there for several minutes as it enjoyed a meal.

Photo from the past couple of weeks:

I’m not even sure there are any birds in this tree. As I took the photo, there had been several chickadees twittering about, but they may have taken off before the photo was actually taken. This tree is a favorite hangout for birds in our area though, and often has many different species coming and going.

Five Fun Facts about the Tufted Titmouse

Photo from Richard Cane, https://flic.kr/p/2kkqhaP

  1. Although their preference is sunflower seeds, they will eat suet, peanuts and other seeds as well. Insects make-up about 2/3 of their diet.
  2. Typically found within 130 feet of a feeder, storage sites are places where Tufted Titmouse’s will keep seeds and other food they find throughout fall and winter. They will often shell seeds before hiding them in the storage site.
  3. During nesting season, Tufted Titmouse’s will take hair from living animals, even humans, to line their nests.
  4. The call of the Tufted Titmouse is often described as sounding like “Peter Peter Peter.”
  5. The Tufted Titmouse resides mostly in deciduous forests with tall trees, sometimes in mixed forests. They can live in other areas if the trees are large enough.

Citations:

Cornell, L. (n.d.). https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Tufted_Titmouse/id#. Retrieved March 12, 2023.

Kenn. (2021, October 20). Tufted titmouse. Audubon. Retrieved March 12, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/tufted-titmouse

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A Michigan Big Year 2023, Week 8

πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 8

February 19

πŸ‘€Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€Black capped Chickadees

πŸ‘€Dark eyes junco

πŸ‘€ Crows

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves

February 20

πŸ‘€Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€Black capped Chickadees

πŸ‘€Dark eyes junco

πŸ‘€ Crows

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves

πŸ‘€Mallards

πŸ‘€ Mute Swans

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves

February 21

πŸ‘€Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€Black capped Chickadees

πŸ‘€Dark eyes junco

February 22

πŸ‘€Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€Black capped Chickadees

πŸ‘€Dark eyes junco

February 23

πŸ‘€Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€Black capped Chickadees

πŸ‘€Dark eyes junco

February 24

πŸ‘€Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€Black capped Chickadees

πŸ‘€Dark eyes junco

February 25

πŸ‘€Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€Black capped Chickadees

πŸ‘€Dark eyes junco

πŸ‘€ Crows

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves

This week, most of the birds I saw were the same type of birds I have been seeing. I did however see two new species; mallards and mute swans. This brought my total number of species from this year to 20.

Favorite Moment from the Week and Photo of the Week:

My favorite moment from this past week was also caught in a photo. Two mute swans swam up to me while I was out birdwatching at a local bay. Mute swans are an invasive species, but they are still beautiful birds. One of them was banded, and they seemed at least somewhat used to be people.

Five Fun Facts About Mute Swans:

  1. Meant to be an ornamental in parks and estates, mute swans were brought over from Europe to North America.
  2. Mute swans compete with native waterfowl, consuming large amounts of aquatic plants and considered a pest in some areas.
  3. Although its wingbeats can be heard from as far away as a mile away, mute swans have quieter voice than other swans; thus the name “mute.”
  4. Mute swans were written about in European fairy tales and Russian ballets.
  5. Mute swans have short legs but heavy bodies and have an orange bill with a white body.

Citations;

Cornell, L. (n.d.). Mute swan overview, all about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mute_Swan/overview#

Kaufman, K. (2021, October 20). Mute swan. Audubon. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/mute-swan

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A Michigan Big Year, 2023, Week 7

Key:
πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 7

February 12

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves (flock)

πŸ‘€ Crows (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (flock)

πŸ‘€ European Starlings

πŸ‘€ Snow Buntings

πŸ‘€ Unidentified hawk

February 13

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€ White-breasted nuthatch

February 14

πŸ‘€ Crows (Multiple)

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (flock)

February 15

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ Black-capped chickadee

πŸ‘€ Downy Woodpecker

πŸ‘€ BlueJay

πŸ‘€Dark eyed junco

πŸ‘€ White-breasted Nuthatch

πŸ‘€ Red-bellied woodpecker

πŸ‘€ European Starlings

February 16

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (flock)

πŸ‘€ Black-capped chickadee

πŸ‘€Dark eyed junco

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ White-breasted Nuthatch

February 17

πŸ‘€Dark eyed junco

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ Black-capped chickadee

πŸ‘€ White-breasted Nuthatch

πŸ‘€ Crows (Multiple)

February 18

πŸ‘€ Black-capped chickadee

πŸ‘€Dark eyed junco

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ Crows (Multiple)

This week, I saw quite a few birds, but only one new species. This brings the total number of species I’ve seen this year to 18. The birds were active throughout the week, and I was able to get out birdwatching locally a little bit more.

Favorite Moment of the Week:

  • Seeing snow buntings.

Photo of the Week:

Snow Buntings in a field.

Five Fun Facts About Snow Buntings:

Photo from John Haslam: https://flic.kr/p/5YJ5dw
  1. Although their population is around 14.5 million, it is declining.
  2. Snow buntings eat seeds, insects, and invertebrates including crustaceans. They are foragers, forging on the ground for food.
  3. Snow Buntings are sometimes called “Snowflakes,” due to the way they fly through the air and settle on to farm fields like ‘snow flakes.’
  4. They are winter birds in most areas, preferring the northern Tundra areas in summer.
  5. They lay 2-9 eggs, that leave the nest 10-17 days after hatching.

Citations:

Conservancy, A. B. (n.d.). Snow bunting. American Bird Conservancy. Retrieved February 19, 2023, from https://abcbirds.org/bird/snow-bunting/

Kaufman, K. (2022, December 16). Snow bunting. Audubon. Retrieved February 19, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/snow-bunting

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A Michigan Big Year, 2023; Week 6

πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 5:

February 5

πŸ‘€ Crows

πŸ‘€ Ring-billed gull

πŸ‘€ Morning Dove

πŸ‘€ European Starlings

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves

February 6

No sightings

February 7

πŸ‘€ Chickadees

πŸ‘€ Dark-eyed Junco

πŸ‘€ Morning Dove

February 8

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ Crows

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚Northern Flicker

πŸ‘€ Morning Dove

πŸ‘€ European Starlings

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚Chickadees

February 9

πŸ‘€ Crows

πŸ‘€ Dark-eyed Junco

πŸ‘€ πŸ‘‚Morning Dove

πŸ‘€ White-breasted Nuthatch

πŸ‘€ πŸ‘‚Chickadees

February 10

πŸ‘€ Chickadees

February 11

πŸ‘€ Chickadees

πŸ‘€ Crows

πŸ‘€ Dark-eyed Junco

πŸ‘€ Morning Doves

πŸ‘€ European Starlings

The birds were more active this week, but I did not see any new species. This leaves the total number of species I’ve found so far this year at 17. We had another winter storm this week, and it brought in several familiar birds to our backyard.

Favorite Moment From This Week:

Watching a Northern Flicker fly from tree to tree.

Photo of the Week:

An American Crow, after it took off from a tree.

Five Fun Facts About an American Crow

Photo from Artic Wolf on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/dnrH5B
  1. Even a crows legs and bill are black.
  2. Old feathers may appear scaly or brownish, whereas new feathers have a glossy look.
  3. American crows are very social. As such, they may join flocks with numbers into the thousands.
  4. Crows are extremely intelligent birds, with a great ability to adapt to civilization.
  5. American Crows are omnivores, eating on everything from insects to seeds, berries, fruit, eggs, and even garbage.

Citations:

Cornell, L. (n.d.). American Crow. All About Birds. Retrieved February 12, 2023, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Crow/id#

Kaufman, K. (2022, December 18). American crow. Audubon. Retrieved February 12, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/american-crow

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A Michigan Big Year, 2023, Week 5

Key:
πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 5:

January 29

πŸ‘€ Downy Woodpecker (1)

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves (flock)

πŸ‘€ Crows (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ White Breasted Nuthatch (1)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (flock)

January 30

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

January 31

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ House Sparrow

February 1


πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

February 2

πŸ‘€ House Sparrow

February 3

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

πŸ‘€ House Sparrow

February 4

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos

πŸ‘€ Crows

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves

The birds were more active this week than last week. For the most part, I saw more of the same species I’ve been seeing, but we did have a house sparrow visit our backyard a few times. This brings the total number of species I’ve seen so far this year to 17.

Favorite Moment From This Week:

  • When a house sparrow visited our backyard multiple times!

Photo of the Week:

This photo of a dark-eyed Junco was taking with my cell phone, so the quality isn’t the best, but I’ve enjoyed watching them hop about the yard.

Five Fun Facts About a House Sparrow

Photo from: https://flic.kr/p/2iN5vjv, by hedera.baltica on Flickr.

  1. House sparrows May eat berries, but its main diet is seeds.
  2. House sparrows can be found on farms, at zoos and parks, and in both suburban and city type environments. They tend to prefer manmade structures.
  3. An Invasive Species, House Sparrows compete for food and nesting sites with birds native to North America.
  4. They lay 1-8 eggs in their nests, with the average being between 3-6.
  5. House Sparrows are common across the United States in all seasons.

Citations:

Cornell, L. (n.d.). House Sparrow Identification, all about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. , All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Sparrow/id#

Kaufman, K. (2021, October 23). House Sparrow. Audubon. Retrieved February 5, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/house-sparrow

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A Michigan Big Year, 2023 Week 4

Key:

πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 4:

January 22:

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves

January 23:

No Bird sightings

January 24:

No Bird sightings

January 25:

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

January 26:

No Bird sightings

January 27:

No Bird sightings

January 28:

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves (flock)

πŸ‘€ Downy Woodpecker (1)

This week, I spotted 3 different species, and all of them were birds I’ve already seen this year. If this post had a subtitle, it might say “Where have all the birds gone?” There were several days this week when I spotted zero birds. I wasn’t able to travel far either, which may have been part of it, but it is unusual to see no birds at all in my own little part of the world. We have had some snow and cold weather this week, so they may be hunkered down.

Favorite Moments from This Week:

  • When a downy woodpecker visited one of the trees in our yard.

Photo of the Week:

It was a tougher week of birdwatching, with not many birds around. I’m not even sure you can find any chickadees in this photo, but they frequent this tree in our back yard. The photo I took of one a couple of weeks ago was in this same tree. Hopefully as the year goes on, I will be able to get better photos with birds clearly visible in them.

Five Fun Facts About Mourning Doves

Photo from Trish Hartmann https://flic.kr/p/2jhfgiz
  1. Mourning doves are ground feeders, and can be found foraging the ground for food. They eat quickly and digest the food while resting.
  2. “Pigeon milk” is fed to the young by both parents.
  3. They are found in grasslands, open woods, roadsides, towns and farms. They tend to prefer open or semi-open habitat, mostly in temperate climates of North America.
  4. Three Mourning Doves may fly in a tight formation during the breeding season, as a form of social display.
  5. Mouring Doves can often be found in large flocks in backyards and around neighborhoods.

Citations:

Cornell, L. (n.d.). Mourning dove identification, all about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. , All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mourning_Dove/id

Kaufman, K. (2022, December 17). Mourning dove. Audubon. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/mourning-dove

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A Michigan Big Year, 2023, Week 3

Key:

πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 3:

January 15:

  • πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)
  • πŸ‘€ Crows (2)
  • πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (Multiple)
  •  πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves

January 16:

  • πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos (Flock)
  • πŸ‘€ American Tree Sparrow (4-5)

January 17:

  • πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

January 18:

  • πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)
  • πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse (2)
  • πŸ‘€ European Starlings (flock)
  • πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (flock)
  • πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves (flock)

January 19:

  • πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)
  • πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse

January 20:

  • πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)
  • πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse
  • πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ Crows (flock)

January 21:

  • πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)
  • πŸ‘€ Blue jays
  • πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ Crows (flock)
  • πŸ‘€ European Starlings (flock)
  • πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (flock)
  • πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves (flock)
  • πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ Ravens (flock)

This week, I was able to do some traveling, and also spotted a hawk I was unable to identify. It wasn’t in a safe location to pull of the road, and I couldn’t ID from the vehicle. My best guess is a red-tailed hawk, but without being able to get a better look, I’m not counting it within my ID list.

I spotted two new species this week, an American Tree Sparrow and a raven. This brings my total to 16 species total for the year. Not bad, considering how much I’ve needed to stay close to home so far.

Favorite moments from the past week:

  • Watching a small flock of American Tree Sparrows hopping around our backyard.
  • Spotting several ravens up in a tree

Photo of the week:

A little backyard visitor.

Five Fun Facts About Dark-Eyed Juncos

Photo from FishHawk on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/2hHngXd

  1. The dark-eyed Junco is one of the most common birds in North America.
  2. They often appear in the winter months, although in some places they stay year-round. They tend to prefer cooler weather and snowy areas.
  3. Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily seed eaters, with millet being one of their favorites. They also tend to eat insects during the mating season.
  4. They typically lay 3-5 eggs, sometimes as many as 6 during the nesting season.
  5. Their song is a metallic trill on the same pitch.

Citations:

Cornell, L. (n.d.). Dark-eyed junco overview, all about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Dark-eyed_Junco/overview

Sibley, D. A. (2022, December 17). Dark-eyed junco. Audubon. Retrieved January 22, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/dark-eyed-junco

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A Michigan Big Year 2023, Week 2

A Michigan Big Year 2023 Intro

I haven’t done much with this blog in quite a while. This year, I’ve set out to do a Michigan Big Year, and it seemed like the perfect time to try to do more with this blog. My goal is to see as many birds as possible in the state of Michigan in 2023. I’ve…

Key:

πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 2:

January 8:

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€Red Breasted Nuthatch (1)

January 9

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

January 10

πŸ‘€ Dark Eyed Junco (1)

πŸ‘€ Downy Woodpecker (1)

January 11

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

January 12

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

January 13

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

January 14

πŸ‘€Black Capped Chickadees (Multiple)

πŸ‘€ Dark eyed juncos (2)

πŸ‘€ Northern Flicker (1)

πŸ‘€ Crows (3)

πŸ‘€ Rock Doves (Multiple)

πŸ‘€πŸ¦… European Starlings (Flock)

πŸ‘€ Mourning Doves (5)

This week, I spotted four additional species from last week, bringing my total for the year up to 14 species identified so far this year. Photos were hard to get again, and there were really not a lot of birds out at any one time. I am guessing the weather had something to do with it, as we had a lot of cloudy, cold days with some rain and snow mixed in.

Favorite Moments from this week:

  • Watching a Northern Flicker on a tree near our backyard.
  • Watching a dark-eyed Junco hop around in the snow

Photo of the week:

This little chickadee proved hard to capture, but I managed to get a shot of the little bird after it grabbed a seed from a feeder.

Five Fun Facts about the Red-breasted Nuthatch:

Photo from edk7 on Flickr,

Red-breasted nuthatch 'Sitta canadensis' - Peel Region, Ontario..
https://flic.kr/p/2kSKwrB
  1. This little bird has the ability to go up and down, and sideways along branches and tree trunks.
  2. Red-breasted Nuthatches are aggressive during nest building. They will chase away many other species of birds from their nesting site.
  3. Red-breasted Nuthatches are insect eaters but will also eat some seeds and nuts. If a food is too large, they will hammer it open after jamming it into some bark.
  4. Between 4-7 eggs are laid in the nest of a Red-breasted Nuthatch. The eggs incubate for about 12 days and 2-3 weeks later, the hatchlings leave the nest.
  5. Red-breasted Nuthatches live in conifer forests, or conifer forests mixed with deciduous. They prefer a mature forest, likely because nest sites are easier to find in decaying old wood.

Citations:

Cornell, L. (n.d.). Red-breasted nuthatch life history, all about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. , All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved January 15, 2023, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-breasted_Nuthatch/lifehistory#food

Sibley, D. A. (2022, December 16). Red-breasted nuthatch. Audubon. Retrieved January 15, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/red-breasted-nuthatch

Red-breasted nuthatch 'Sitta canadensis' - Peel Region, Ontario..
https://flic.kr/p/2kSKwrB
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A Michigan Big Year 2023, Week 1

For the Introduction Post, see:

This week, I wasn’t able to get out a lot to go birdwatching, but even backyard birding can bring some good results.

Key:

πŸ‘€= Visually saw the bird

πŸ‘‚= Heard the bird

πŸ¦…= Flyover

My list for Week 1:

January 2:

πŸ‘€ Black-Capped Chickadee (4)

πŸ‘‚ Blue Jay (1)

πŸ‘€ White Breasted Nuthatch (1)

January 5:

πŸ‘€ Tufted Titmouse (1)

πŸ‘€ Mourning Dove (2)

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ Black-Capped Chickadee (5-6)

January 7

πŸ‘€ Crows (5-6)

πŸ‘€ Ring-Billed Gull (1)

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ White Breasted Nuthatch (2)

πŸ‘€πŸ‘‚ Black-Capped Chickadee (5-6)

πŸ‘€ Red-bellied Woodpecker (1)

πŸ‘€ Downy Woodpecker (1)

This week, I spotted 9 different species, and heard 1 more. All of these were viewed and/or heard within 15-20 minutes of where I live, and most of them in my back yard. Ten species seven days into the new year seems like a great place to start! I am hoping to venture out a little further in the coming week, and hopefully add a few more birds to the list.

Favorite Moments from this week:

  • When a red-bellied woodpecker landed in a tree in our backyard.
  • When a Tufted Titmouse came to visit

I wasn’t able to get many photos this week, and what I did get did not turn out well, but I will share one of a chickadee at a feeder.

Five Fun Facts about red-bellied woodpeckers:

Each week, I will try to choose one of the birds I spot and share a few fun facts about. This week, I’ve chosen the red-bellied woodpecker.

I was not able to photograph the one I saw, but found a Creative Commons photo on Flickr, curtesy of Jim Robinson. https://flic.kr/p/hZCkf6

  1. They are Omnivorous, eating insects, nuts, small fish, seeds, and even sap.
  2. Live in towns, woodland areas especially in deciduous forests along swamps and rivers, sometimes found in more open areas.
  3. Has a wingspan between 13 and 16.5 inches.
  4. Rather than drilling into trees, red-bellied woodpeckers can often be found picking at the bark surface.
  5. Males have both a red crown and nape, whereas females have a red nape but lack the red crown.

Citations:

Kaufman, K., & Sibley, D. A. (2021, October 23). Red-bellied woodpecker. Audubon. Retrieved January 7, 2023, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/red-bellied-woodpecker

Cornell, L. (2023). Red-bellied woodpecker identification, all about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. , All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved January 7, 2023, from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-bellied_Woodpecker/id 
Featured

A Michigan Big Year 2023 Intro

I haven’t done much with this blog in quite a while. This year, I’ve set out to do a Michigan Big Year, and it seemed like the perfect time to try to do more with this blog. My goal is to see as many birds as possible in the state of Michigan in 2023. I’ve set a minimum goal of 10 new species of birds per month, for 120 total, but hope to see even more than that.

Who am I? My name is Cindy Flynn. I am a teacher and writer living in the beauty of north-west lower Michigan with my husband and our dogs. I started this blog back in 2013. Two Masters degrees and a major car accident later, I’m finally getting back around to trying to do more with this blog. You can read more about that on our family blog here: Tales From North Country. I also run the Facebook page Northern Michigan Birding. Both the Facebook page and this blog were started because bird watching is one of my hobbies, and I wanted a place to share information I find, bird watching trips, and other things bird related.

I am hoping to blog weekly. I teach full time and also run several other blogs and Facebook pages, so sometimes life gets in the way, but I plan to post as close to weekly as I can. Each week, I’ll talk about my birding adventures, whether just in the backyard or out and about in the great state of Michigan. I look forward to many bird watching adventures in the coming year!

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Red-Headed Woodpeckers

Photo: USFWS Midwest Region https://flic.kr/p/2iDbR1X

Ten Facts:

  1. Population: Decreasing for quite a few years now. The cause is not known for sure, but thought to be due to habit changes, and the loss of possible nesting areas.
  2. Identification: (Male and female are alike) Medium size bird, chisel-like beak, under streaked white belly, red head, a black back with white patches found on the wings.
  3. Food: Red-headed Woodpecker can catch insects in the air. They may be found putting nuts and other edible items into crevices and holes in trees, or even under the bark of a tree for year-round food. Berries, seeds, spiders, earthworms, and ground vegetation are also among their diet.
  4. Eggs: The male Red-headed Woodpeckers establishes a territory, and signals for the female to come and find him. After mating, the female lays an average of 4 to 5 eggs. They can lay as few as 3 or as many as 7, but rarely lay more. Both males and females take turns incubating, with the males taking the night shift. Twelve to thirteen days after being laid, the eggs hatch.
  5. Young: Both the male and the female take turns feeding the young, and may even begin preparing for a new nest of hatchlings before the 1st is even grown. Twenty- seven to Thirty-one days after being hatched, the fledglings leave the nest.
  6. Vulnerability: Red-headed Woodpeckers are endangered. The National Audubon Society predicts a 94% loss of their range as the climate changes. (Red-headed Woodpecker | Audubon Field Guide.) According to All About Birds, their population has decreased by 2% every year between 1966 and 2014. While this may not seem like a large percentage yearly, when added up, it equals about a 70% loss of the species. As rural areas become more urban, habitats are destroyed and the woodpeckers have fewer places to nest and live.
  7. History: In the 1800’s, Red-headed Woodpeckers were so common that farmers would pay to have them killed, as they liked to eat crops. In writings from John Audubon in 1830, he mentions 100 woodpeckers killed at one time, from a single cherry tree. They were common even in towns, until their habitat, nesting area and food sources were destroyed, forcing them to find other areas. It is thought that European Starlings have also had an impact on their nesting, since they may steal woodpecker holes. There is evidence that their population may go up and down in different areas, but more research is needed as to the cause.
  8. Similar Birds: Similar birds to the Red-headed Woodpecker include Red-breasted Sapsucker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Acorn Woodpecker. It is important to note that the Red-breasted Sapsucker and Acorn Woodpecker are not found in Michigan.
  9. Habitat: Orchards, lowland and deciduous woodland forests, and open areas such as savannas and pastures are all places you might find a Red-headed Woodpecker. They also live in wetlands, and may be found in suburban parks. They have been found on farmlands, in beaver swamps, burned areas, and in grasslands where there are scattered trees.
  10. Tips for feeding: Red-headed Woodpeckers will occasionally visit suet feeders. They enjoy fruit, such as cherries and apples, and will eat seeds and nuts as well.

Sources:

Kaufman, K. (2020, March 25). Red-headed Woodpecker. Audubon. https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/red-headed-woodpecker.

Kaufman, K., & 13, O. (2017, October 20). The Red-headed Woodpecker Doesn’t Make Sense. Audubon. https://www.audubon.org/news/the-red-headed-woodpecker-doesnt-make-sense.

Red-headed Woodpecker Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. , All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (n.d.). https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-headed_Woodpecker/id.

Red-headed Woodpecker. American Bird Conservancy. (2020, January 16). https://abcbirds.org/bird/red-headed-woodpecker/.


Featured

Trumpeter Swans

What They Look Like:

  • Black bill
  • Large white body
  • Black facial skin near eye
  • Black legs
  • Sometimes confused for Mute Swans, which are an invasive species.
Mute swan

Interesting Facts:

  • Biggest native waterfowl
  • Can stretch to 6 feet in length and weigh over 25 pounds.

Diet:

  • Trumpeter Swans eat mostly aquatic plants, with some fish and fish eggs included in their diet.
A trumpeter swan feeds under water. Trumpeters will also tip down into the water, pulling up the vegetation beneath.

Habitat:

  • Prefer fresh-water with lots of aquatic plants with at least 100 yards of space for take-off.

Young:

Trumpeter Swans with their young, called cygnets.
  • Trumpeter swans lay eggs which hatch 32-27 days later.
  • Usually 4-6 eggs are laid, sometimes up to 9.
  • The young are called cygnets and can fly 3 to 4 months after hatching, but are able to swim when they are a day old.

Conservation:

  • Recovering species that was once endangered.
  • Are very sensitive to humans disturbing their nesting areas.
  • Although they have made a comeback, their population is still closely monitored and steps taken to ensure they do not face the risk of extinction again.
Two trumpeter swans swim together. Swans form pairs at 2 to 4 years of age, and both swans help to raise the young. Swans often mate for life.

Citations:

Audubon , N. (2020, June 25). Trumpeter Swan. Audubon. https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/trumpeter-swan.

Cornell, U. (2019). Trumpeter Swan Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All About Birds. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Trumpeter_Swan/overview.