Every Fall I look forward to joining my friends at Michigan Audubon to tally the number of Sandhill Cranes coming into roost at the Kiwanis and Baker Sanctuary properties. However, this year would be different due to the pandemic. As luck would have it, the count site has ample space to social distance so three of us settled in and prepared for a gorgeous evening of Fall birding as the sun was setting upon a mostly clear sky.
With the 2020 pandemic continuing on, more and more bird clubs and nature groups are turning to technology to provide their members and constituents with engaging content. It is certainly not the same as meeting in person but with no end in sight it’s the next best thing. I recently provided the Augusta Bird Club in Virginia a zoom session focusing on Eastern Raptor ID. For those looking to learn the basics of identifying raptors in flight, enjoy the recording.
The 2020 pandemic has us all craving engagement and part of what has been lost is birding in groups; learning from each other and experiencing migration. In the Spring, we featured many virtual bird walks streaming LIVE through the camera lens for all to see. We tried hard to include the personal side of bird walks with tips on ID, life history for the birds we saw and stories from Josh on experiences he has had over the years.
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.