Thursday, April 27, 2023



Bird migration has always fascinated me, but I’ve had questions too about how it happens.  How birds find their way down to their winter digs and back again.  How birds, like Sandhill Cranes, return to the exact same breeding spot every year.  How they often make this voyage in the dark of night.

I’m reading a new book called Flight Paths by Rebecca Heisman.  It’s subtitled How a Passionate and Quirky Group of Pioneering Scientists Solved the Mystery of Bird Migration.  It’s not the first book written on the topic, but it does have the most recent information tracing the development of each technique used to track bird migration.

Closer to home, I’ve been following the migratory numbers and they’ve really gone up substantially in the last month.  I check daily, but last Saturday, for example, over 429,00 birds passed through Grand Traverse County overnight.  The Flight Paths book has a whole chapter on the evolution of Birdcast.

Getting myself outside in farm country, I’ve seen many migrants return.  With the ponds completely thawed, Red-winged Blackbirds have taken their regular spots atop cattails and their repeated trills fill the air. 

I love woodpeckers and was delighted to see this Northern Flicker had returned from points south.  I waited to hear the drumming technique it uses to attract a mate, but it didn’t happen.

I also saw this Tree Swallow keeping toasty on an electrical line.  Not surprising since it’s probably been used to warmer climes in Mexico and the Gulf Coast. 

I’d not seen this next bird before, a male Brown-headed Cowbird.  They are know to be brood parasites, meaning they deposit their eggs in nests belonging to birds of other species.

And, of course, my favorite bird has returned in full force.  I’m seeing Sandhill Cranes all over the place, eating dregs in corn fields or hanging out in marshes.  Hoping to see some mating dances soon.

Thursday, April 20, 2023



With the temperatures into the eighties last week, setting several new records, spring flowers, trees, and shrubs have popped with color.  I couldn’t resist another look at this early spring beauty.  

Thursday, April 13, 2023


 I thought with the warm temperatures we’d been having, there would be an abundance of blossoms to photograph.  I found some, but I really had to hunt for them.  It was worth it, though, finally seeing snow glories in several lawns, and crocus, daffodils, and other varieties sprouting new growth.


Thursday, April 6, 2023



Sixty degrees, my car temperature gauge read.  I couldn’t resist heading to farm country to see what changes had come with the warmer weather. 

Right away I noticed the farmland ponds were thawing, some more than others.

I watched this pair of mallards swimming in one.  Notice the male navigating an ice floe that remained.

Above the pond on a tree limb, I saw this Rough-legged Hawk, still here from its winter migration.

Then I saw these three cranes feasting on corn dregs in a field near where I usually see them.  Was this my crane family from last season with the young crane all grown?

I spied another hawk, this one a Red-shouldered.  Like the cranes, it was a “snowbird” returning from its winter in the South. 

But the catch of the day was this beautiful American Kestrel, a dainty falcon that I’d not seen before.  I felt so lucky!  The black facial stripes below its eyes was the identification giveaway.

The reddish-brown tail feathers reminded me of a Red-Tailed Hawk, but in the Kestrel, the solid color tail feathers and slate-blue wings indicated this bird was a male.

The Kestrel took flight and I got a good look its undersides.  I’ll surely know this falcon the next time I see one. 

The sky had started to spit so I headed home.  I stopped to pick up my mail and found the spring issue of my Audubon magazine.  Would you believe the cover picture was an American Kestrel?  The lead story was about the race to halt the decline of this much-loved falcon.  What serendipity!