Friday, May 26, 2017


For the first time in my adult life, I'm entering the warm weather months living in a condo versus a single family home.  My backyard has always been a source of pleasure, and I'm finding that's true too in my condo.

At the back of my yard is this large stand of mature, evergreen trees and shrubs.  It's very dense and provides an excellent habitat for all kinds of birds and critters.  

During the evening hours, a couple rabbits have ventured from the safety of their tree habitat to explore the area under my bird feeders.

But imagine my surprise one day, when two mallards came out of the trees.  This female was leading the way.  I'm guessing she and her mate were heading to the wetlands and ponds in my neighborhood.  

But it's the birds that I enjoy the most.  This robin pecks the ground for worms and other types of feed.

Once the robin finds something to its liking, it flies to and disappears into this dense, flowering shrub.  I wonder if there is a nest somewhere in the interior.

One of my most common bird visitors is the mourning dove.  Unfortunately, they would arrive in large numbers, sit on the trays of my feeders, and swing there in the breeze.  They effectively blocked the feeders from all other birds.  They were also draining my large feeders every other day.

I had to switch my feeders to a squirrel-proof type, which effectively shut out the larger bird species and squirrels.  The doves still hang around, but are relegated to eating seeds that drop on the ground.

This handsome male House Finch seems to have found a seed that's nearly as large as his mouth.

I'm not the only one who is enjoying the backyard.  Gracie, my three-year old mini-goldendoodle, no longer has a fenced backyard, but she does have her thirty foot purple lead which is allowing her to explore her new surroundings too.

Friday, May 5, 2017


I joined the local Audubon Club so I could become more familiar with the bird habitats in the Traverse City area.  On my first outing with the club, we went to an area where a lot of migrating birds pass through.  Some are returning here to their summer breeding grounds, while others are just using the area as a rest stop on their way home.

As birders gathered around a marshy pond area with their binoculars, scopes, and recording notebooks, I was looking for what to  photograph.  I heard my subjects before I saw them.  Their bugling call was recognizable, but I was waiting for a clear sighting before I let my excitement get out of hand.

And sure enough, the serrated wing tips and outstretched necks confirmed that a flock of Sandhill Cranes was arriving.  It was perfect habitat for them because they favor agricultural fields.

The first bird I saw was alone.  In the crane's characteristic way, it made its way across the field using herky-jerky movements as it foraged for its next meal.

Then I saw the first crane couple working side-by-side as they searched for food.  Sandhill Cranes are monogamous creatures, mating for life.  But this was one of the few pairs I saw this day.

In a field with corn stalks that hadn't yet been plowed under, I saw another singleton crane.  In fact, that's mostly what I saw this morning.  I wondered whether mates had been lost or harmed in the migration from warm winter environs.

The cranes are striking in their coloring, long-necked body, and thin gangly legs.  But my favorite part of their appearance is their red eyes.

On this morning, which began around 8 a.m., there was fog in the weather forecast.  Fortunately, it seemed a distance from where we were birding.  However, by the time an hour had passed, the fog had descended over the fields making photography nearly impossible.  Still, I felt like, with my time with the cranes that morning, I had a piece of the famous Nebraska Flyway, where 80% of the world's Sandhill Crane population converge to rest and refuel before the next leg of their journey to their summer homes.  I had to think, though, that "my" cranes had finally reached home.