Harbingers of spring for us Michiganders include the return of a few key bird species. In Southwest Michigan birds like Turkey Vultures, Song Sparrows and American Robins are the ones that get our blood pumping for the return of warmth and longer days. As things progress a bit further we await the first Eastern Phoebe or get ready for the big numbers of ducks and raptors to come in on their way North.
If you have ever struggled with seeing a clear picture through your binoculars or the picture has always been fuzzy, there is a chance your optics aren't dialed in specifically to your unique eyes. Many binoculars offer manual adjustment to one of the individual optics because most people's left and right eyes aren't matched. Often times, people are unaware of this and think it's them when many times there is a fix for the problem.
The temperatures in Southwest Michigan are still on the chilly side but birds, especially Raptors are on the move North. Many Golden Eagles have been sighted moving through Michigan and many other species are on the move as well. Along with Goldens, it's not too hard to see small kettles of buteos like Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks. Before we know it, massive groups of Broad-winged Hawks will be in our area as temperatures begin to rise and the days lengthen. Get outside and look up!
Close your eyes and picture 25 Bald Eagles flying and hunting around you and three feet of snow blanketing the landscape. What are you picturing? Many would probably answer they're picturing some vast Alaskan landscape surrounded by Bald Eagles doing what they do best; inspire people. However, you don't have to catch a plane to the far Northwest in search of these majestic birds. For those in the Midwest, they are closer than you think.
It’s no wonder many movies have scenes showcasing the moon. What is it about this white circle in the sky that creates mystery and embrace? As a kid, the night sky and especially the moon would always be part of the excitement of being outside after dark. I can remember hunting and fishing before sunrise with heavy eyelids, the crisp morning air with the moon above would always make getting up early worth the struggle. The wonder and questions about the moon and our night’s sky would always come to mind but somehow that never really mattered. The sheer enjoyment of viewing the bright ball of light was always enough to satisfy.
Contrast between colors is something every living being on the planet uses to discern different items from each other. In its simplest form, contrast is the difference between shades and colors. This is the basic premise behind foliar flags. The general hypothesis behind foliar flags is the early color contrast between berries and foliage is timely in such a way to attract birds and other animals to feed.
As the days are getting shorter, the mornings cooler and fall sets in, it will soon give way to snowfall in the Midwest. The cold and wintry days in Michigan's Upper Peninsula mean one thing for us; winter finches, Grouse and most importantly, OWLS! The past few years have been pretty superb for Snowy Owls especially. This isn't necessarily a good thing long term, however it has brought quite a bit of enjoyment to Midwest birders.
You've slowly acquired the gear, you've bought the computer & software and you've spent the last couple birding seasons shooting like crazy. Now what? Not only do you need to locate and post-process some of your finest images, but what about safe photo storage with a reliable back-up strategy? These things are often thought of as secondary but if spending time going through very old images yields good results years later, there may be a flaw in your file management process.
Here I am, see me here, look up here, over here… Seriously, what’s with all the singing from the Red-eyed Vireo? Do they have that much trouble finding a mate? Are they that crazy about protecting their territories? Anyone who goes in the woods in the Eastern United States from June through even as late as August is pretty much guaranteed to hear this drab Vireo singing his little lungs out. Some researchers have followed individuals that sing over 20,000 times in a single 10 hour period.
All around the United States, Warblers do their best to impress. For some of these meager beauties, it’s not a hard job as a number of their extreme colors and interesting behaviors steal the hearts of birders all around the world. Each spring, their amazing motions and curious sounds are what truly mean migration is on and summer is just around the corner. While Warblers can be found in many habitats and environments, there are a few hot traps around the U.S. that are superb.