Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Birding’


Backyard BIRD Sanctuary Update

December 12, 2013

FeedTreeSix months ago, for the first time in my life, I started a backyard Bird Sanctuary. I put out a few Feeders and waited. NOTHING. Not a single Bird showed up for the first few weeks. But the,,,,,all of a sudden…..I guess the word got out, and the Birds & critters started arriving.

Now, some months later, we have over 30 different kinds of Birds stopping in each day for a visit. We moved up to some 10 Feeders, a Salt lick and Gravel pile, as well as two different Watering pools. This also attracted the local Fox, Red squirrels and Chipmunks. The Rabbits and Possums come in after dark. It is a very important addition to your Feeders to have Watering holes, BirdsBATHSalt licks and a Gravel pile as part of your Feeders. The Birds need the water with their feed, and the gravel is part of the way that most birds help to digest their food.

To try and separate some of this feedings, we set up one specific Tree with a Corn feeder and open Nut Feeders for the critters. Otherwise they would come in and Bully the Birds for all the food. This has worked for the most part. BUT…….the Squirrels still come into the Bird feeding areas and chase away everyone, from time to time.


I have learned more in these last 6 months about Birds, then I have learned from a lifetime out on the Trails. Interactions, Feeding habits, how the weather affects the actions of the Birds. I realize that this set up Feeding center is not a copy of wild food feeding for these Birds. But it has given me great insight into Bird actions, songs and food habits.

I started out by asking the members of Hiking Michigan, for advice. This was a great place to start, because I received many, many helpful tips on what to feed the various Birds and what kind of Feeders to use. I also used a wonderful book called them6cOhcq-L2VJh5P9bW_Cciw “Backyard Bird Feeders Bible”. An outstanding book on almost everything you could think of about Bird Feeding.

But the most interesting thing I noticed, was that Birds act differently, depending on what other species are around, and what kind of feed is out for them. These preferences and interactions seem to vary. One Book may tell you one thing, and the actions observed in your particular Sanctuary, may be something completely different.

It is good to get all the advice from experienced Birders that you can get, and also read as much about the different Birds in YOUR part of the world. But the fine tuning of your feeders and Sanctuary, the feed YOU use, and where things are located, will come from YOUR observations of YOUR Sanctuary.


I would like to Thank all the Hiking Michigan members who helped me get this going. It is one the most rewarding things I have done at my Home. It is so very relaxing watching the Birds & Critters come and visit each day, right here in my own backyard.


First Day of Spring

March 21, 2013

According to the Sun/Moon and planet….it is officially Spring. That is even backed up by the Groundhog and his slightly false prediction this year. 🙂 I was reading a posting from our friend Janet Hug, local Birder and Weather person. She had posted some beautiful photos of shots taken on this very day last year, when the temperature was 80 degrees.

I am sure many of you are saying…..well….where is it? But what happened last year with this to early Springtime temps., was that we had a freeze shortly afterwards that destroyed alot of the fruit crops and many other plants that got fooled into believing it truly was FULL SPRINGTIME.

It gets hard to say things like……it should be 80 degrees yet. We may want it to be 80 degrees, because by this point in the year, most of us have had enough Winter, cold weather, snow and everything else. But we need these seasons for everything to work right. If you through the seasons calendar off even by a little bit, it can have catastrophic results to the environment. We need these transition periods in-between the official seasons to make it all work correctly.

I was just reading a 10 year study about the Migration habits of many different Bird species. The Study claimed that many of the migratory birds have shifted their comings and goings by 2-3 weeks, due to what they believe has been these odd seasonal changes and strange weather conditions. Like 80 degrees on the second week of March in southern Michigan. Not correct temperatures.

So what you say. Well, just like the freeze we got, shortly after the week or so of 80 degree temperatures last year, and then the freeze afterwards, that had very bad consequences not just for the fruit crops, but for many other species. From insects to Trees to many different critters, things are timed to happen at a certain part of each season.

If the insect supply is not where it should be at a particular time, then many young hatchlings, fish and others will fail due to that critical food sources needed right at that time period. I watched as the Great Blue Herons returned to their nesting site at Holland Ponds this year, in the first week of March. The earliest I have seen that happen to date. I have watched as they have stood semi-freezing at the tops of the tallest trees, waiting for mates to arrive. Even surviving this early cold arrival, the Herons producing youngsters right away, may have difficulty in gathering all the food needed for themselves and young hatchlings if the young turtles and fish they feed on, have not yet reproduced themselves due to the cold condition still enveloping S.E.Michigan and the herons extra early return.

The balance in Nature is a very delicate one. A few weeks of climate differences can mean big changes in what will be happening that year. It is a snowball effect as well. One creature fails, and this produces a failure in another area too. Notice the much larger then normal insect populations we had in Michigan last year? Our almost no Winter, warm Spring and hot summer, produced a huge in-balance in the way of things.

So…..the first day of Spring does not mean the temperatures should change from 30 degrees, to 80 degrees overnight. The transitions between seasons are just as important as the seasons themselves. Take it all in. These in-between periods are just as exciting as the main seasons are. In many cases they are rare, short-lived time periods where big things take place. Things that will only take place once that year, and only during those transition periods.

The first Day of Spring only indicates celestial cycles and Earth alignments. The time on either side of these exact season days are the very exciting times during which everything changes in one way or another. And how wonderful is that. 🙂


Amateur to Pro – Springtime Birding

March 18, 2013

You must be seeing all the various articles and postings from Birders here in Michigan, who are all excited about the Spring Birding and Migrations. I have enough Birding knowledge to make me dangerous. :-0 But I will try to explain just what all the excitement is all about. Migration is never over. There are birds moving all around the world all the time. However spring and fall migration is when a lot of birds shift to different territories.

flock-bigFirst….in the Spring, when most Birds are looking for mates and then settling into nesting, they are very active and do alot of singing. This singing is pretty much held to this Springtime mating, and is both territorial and for mating purposes. In the Fall, with the conditions being similar, we get another short period of time, when the Birds will be singing much more then normal. After the Spring mating time, alot of the singing commotions cease or are cut down tremendously.

There is a debate on whether most of this Springtime sons are beautiful tunes to attract mates…..or……commands to get away from my territory and eligible females. I would like to believe these many songs are mate orientated. But I read alot that they are more towards aggressive songs demanding an area for themselves, and the food and females in that area.

The second big reason for excitement for the Springtime Birding activities, is the migrational return of many different species. Some species of Birds all migrate to another region of the state or country during the winter months here in Michigan. Some leave a few members of their species behind, while the majority will migrate. Like Herons, Geese, some Ducks and many others, who just seem to know how many of their species can remain and have the habitat sustain these few, while the remainder migrate to warmer climates.

I always wondered how this is decided. Is there a group meeting in the Fall, where a small committee selects who will stay here and who will migrate? Does this change each year. Like Larry went last year, so he gets to stay this year? 🙂  Not sure how this works, and I have not yet gotten an answer from anyone that solves this mystery for me.

The Spring migrations can be a wonderful sight and experience. Large groups of different species of Birds, flying in from warmer climates, and then dispersing into smaller groups as they get further north.

BIRDobservationlocationsYou may hear many people talking about Lake Erie during this migrations time. That is because many birds use the great Lakes as navigational beacons for their travels. There are quite a few different species that follow the shoreline of Lake Erie, north up the Detroit river or Huron river, and then start to disperse into their different regions in smaller groups. Catching the main groups as they come up from Lake Eries can be some amazing stuff. Seeing hundreds of birds of the same species, who normally do not gather in such numbers except during migrations, can be a beautiful sight. And a chance to see activity that normally one would not see while just wandering the Forest or Meadows later in the summer, looking for pairs or a single bird.




So…..this is just some of the reasons for all the excitement during these Springtime migrations, mating and nesting periods in the Birding world. I know I got some of this right. 🙂 But I hope that the more experienced Birders will clock in here and add to this posting and correct or add further info to this special Birding time of year.

Pull out those Binoculars, get the camera cleaned up and polish up on those calls, and get some of the best Birding going at anytime of the year, here in Spring in Michigan.

An excellent place for just a ton of info about where to observe Migrations and Birds in general is:  BIRDING SITES IN SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN & VICINITY  You will also find many Links to Birding groups on this web site. Michigan Audubon and it’s many subsidiaries, and all those smaller Birding groups spread out through out our state of Michigan.

An interesting way to follow the annual Bird Migrations through the latest technological means is through the Migrations RADAR systems. There is an excellent Blog that shows the up to date Radar reading of actual flocks of moving Birds. these flocks are large enough to show up on these tweaked Radar systems. A very interesting way to be where the Birds are at.  CHECK THE BLOG WOODCREEPER


Another way to stay in touch with what is happening right here in Southeastern Michigan, is to check with a couple of the local fanatics (I say this with great respect) who are out constantly looking for that special Bird, or following the Migration patterns, or just taking pictures of all the different birds they can find. A couple of good friends of HM, and avid Birders with Blog sites are:


Janet Hug –                                                                   Dr.BobBlog


and Dr. Bob –


Here are a few other useful Bird Links from Dr.Bob:  DETROIT RIVER HAWK WATCH  And then we have the Biggest Week in Birding at: THE BIGGEST WEEK IN BIRDING    Janet told me that one of her favorites for keeping up on what is happening in Birding is the eBird site. Dr.Bob has talked alot about this site as well. I recently purchased an eBird APP for my TABLET and just getting deeper into all the features. GO TO EBIRD

Speaking further with Janet, she too recomends the Biggest Week in Birding and says further….”You can’t be a birder in the Midwest without consulting Kenn Kaufman and Kimberly Kaufman for their birding expertise. Here is a timeline for spring migration by species”.  CRANE CREEK MAGEE BIRDING   This is a great site because it actually breaks down just when, what birds will be migrating through the area. Pretty interesting way to follow your favorite Birds around. 🙂


The Kaufmans also operate the Black Swamp Bird Observatory web site. Lots of research & education going on there. Check out their  interconnected Blog site here:  BLACK CREEK BIRD OBSERVATORY

If all these Links do not get you out to the right spot to see some outstanding Birds, then you just are not trying. 🙂 So we started this Blog posting with my dangerous behaviour ind limited Birding knowledge (I just love photographing and viewing, but know so little about the specifics) But we ended it with two of the people I most respect in Birding in Southeastern Michigan, Janet Hug and Dr.Bob, both sharing their favorite Links and Birding Info with all of us. Thank You Guys!!!!  See you all out on the Trails, at the Parks and around the Observation Points.


What is a BIRDER?

February 6, 2013

My friend, Dr. Bob Birding, just wrote another one of his Birding Blog posts, and I read something in it that made me think again. He mention my name and said that I was not even a Birder. Now he said this in a way that meant that I was promoting Birds fulltime and that yet I was not an official Birder.

Well he is right. I do not belong to any of the Audubon Society groups or extensions, but Volunteer my time with them to help out. I promote Dr. Bob’s Blog as well as my friend Janet Hug’s Blog too. Both of these two Birders have taught me alot an bout Birding. So where is that line?

I have always enjoyed Birds. My whole life, I have admired the Raptors, the many springtime songs of the mating birds and the many specific habits of all the different species out there. Not to mention some of the most beautiful colored plumage. I have collected Feathers since I was a Scout, and still do. I am enthralled by the Bird Feather.

Over the last year especially, I have had even more contact with true Birders then ever before. Attending meetings, working with Birders on ID sheets and articles to promote. I have also seen a HUGE increase in interest from the majority of the Hikers, on Birds and their activities. Birding certainly has captured the interest of many, many people in Michigan.

Here are Links to Dr. Bob’s Blog and Janet Hug’s Blog. Both are very useful in their Bird knowledge and the outstanding pictures of our Bird friends in action. JANET HUG BLOG              Dr.BOB BLOG

Check out the HIKING MICHIGAN NewsLetter latest issue. See just how many informative Birding articles we had presented to us for that issue alone. Now that is a huge increase in Birding interest through out the entire state.  HM NEWSLETTER

So I guess I am still wondering what makes an official Birder? I have collected all the various DROID APPS for my TABLET on Bird ID and Birding. This has  been a great addition to my personal Birding. Not only has it been easier to ID Birds in the field, but even to the point of attracting Birds, like the Owl we attracted one evening, by using one of the DROID APPS on someone’s cell phone, and getting the Owl to come in to see who was invading his territory. 🙂 Here are some Links to online Bird ID programs and APPS for our TABLETS and Cell phones.

The CORNELL EBIRD SITE             The online companion for the IBIRD APP

And there are the dedicated Organizations that so many of the official Birders belong too. The AUDUBON SOCIETY being the largest National Birding Organization. Their local Group is the OAKLAND COUNTY AUDUBON SOCIETY.

For those of you who did not see our latest BIRD ID sheets, I post them again here. We worked with a number of local Birders in determining what was the best things for the beginner Birder to concentrate on, to ID a Bird out in the field. So with some research and talking with many people, we put together these two sheets that hopefully are helpful to every Birder out there, but especially to the beginners, in IDing their first Birds our on the Trails. You can download a copy of the BIRD BODY ID SHEETS here:






New BIRD ID Sheets

January 31, 2013

With such an increase in Birding interest here in Michigan, we decided we needed to get some ID help going. We asked our members and many expert Birders in Southeastern Michigan for their ideas and help in putting something together that would assist the beginner in identifying different Birds while out on the Trails.

The two sheet we put together should help in telling one Bird from another. Practice is always the best way to get more proficient at IDing different Birds. But these ID sheets should help everyone in getting that quick ID going, rather then just standing there and saying…..”What a Cool Bird that was”. 🙂

Birding has taken some huge strides the last couple of years, with all the web sites and APPS for our cell phones and Tablets. These make Identifying Birds out in the field, much easier. But there still needs to be a pattern to what you are looking for and in what order, that will best and most quickly help you ID that Bird.

Here are a few web sites to assist you in Identying various Birds almost everywhere:




You can Download our new BIRD ID SHEETS here:


Dr. Bob Birding

January 9, 2013

Last year during the Biggest Week in America Birding I had the pleasure to meet Gunnar Engblom at the first Meet and Greet in Ohio for Facebook Ohio birding friends. I have been following him on FB ever since. He is Swedish, leading birding tours in Peru, yet very knowledgeable as a worldwide birder, and obviously has been birding in our area.

On FB he has just started posting about a book he is writing. It will be available for free on the internet. It is a very different approach to birding. Basically it acknowledges that many (maybe now, most???) of us get into birding differently in this digital age that in older days.  It sure rings true to me! I started birding by taking pics and wondering what I shot. After quite awhile of sharing pics locally in my neighborhood, a neighbor told me she had a relative who was into birding, and turned me onto this UM list serv. My life changed forever!!! You all have been instrumental! (Thanks again, Bruce for such a wonderful accepting forum!!!)

Check out the link:

Gunnar lists the chapter headings for now. Fascinating! Makes sense!

Birds are universal. Birding is universal!

I truly suspect this e-book might draw many new birders into our passion! Indeed, I think we will all learn from it if Gunnar gets the support I think he will!

I would appreciate seeing comments. I do not think this is “OT”, but, Bruce, since it is not purely Michigan and there are so many other excellent sources of birding info, I will leave it up to you to moderate if it gets too carried away on the list.

Yeah, I could have waited until the book was e-published to send out a note, but I really believe that we in Michigan are so far ahead of many other places for sharing birding experience that I wanted some of our advanced birders to have a chance to input or comment on this e-book.

And yes, I started with pics, but now have a good pair of binocs – and even a cheap scope – and damn near all the local field guides and even more specialized books – so it really rings true for me. I am always learning! And it all started with “whazzat bird?”!!!

Good birding in 2013!!!

“Dr. Bob” Setzer

Streamwood Estates, Rochester Hills (Crooks & Hamlin), Oakland County

“Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.”   Teaching a man to “bird” is much harder!

Blog: (Yes, I know it is stale …)



2nd Top Post of 2012

January 3, 2013

This post was another favorite for 2012. It is the study of a Bird Feather. Just like a human hair, the individual strands (hairs) are linked together with minuscule hooks to form a solid feather. Amazing stuff!

Recent discussions with Dr. Bob, and the excessive heat these days, has sparked me to re-study how Birds deal with this extreme heat of summer. Not having sweat glands, they use a number of techniques to cool themselves down. The term for what Birds do to cool-off is called Gular Fluttering. You can read more on this specific subject with Dr. Bob’s discussions on the Audubon Society Blog, at:

All this talk of Birds dealing with the extreme heat of summer, sparked me to redo a PDF file we had on the web site. The file was a study of the details of a Bird’s Feather. A nice close-up and examination of the make-up of an individual feather.

I have always been intrigued by Bird feathers. Their shapes, colors and delicate yet many uses. I have collected feathers since I was a young Scout, and never stopped for the rest of my life.

I hope you find the Bird Feather study interesting and get a better understanding on how a Bird uses it’s various feathers to fly, maneuver and keep warm & cool through the different seasons and temperatures.

You can download the PDF file study on BIRD FEATHERS, here:



Fall Birds are Singing

October 9, 2012

You may have noticed an increase in Bird songs taking place each Fall season. Nothing more soothing then sitting under a Fall tree which has turned bright red, and hearing the beautiful sounds of the many different birds that have not migrated, echoing through out the forest.

It is an interesting phenomena that in the Fall, most birds will start to sing once again. In the Springtime, the males are claiming territory and trying to attract a mate with their songs. It is a wonderful time of year, filled with so many different songs and sounds. Then……after mating and nest building, many birds either stop completely, or cut their singing to a minimum. The summer months get pretty quite.

Then again, in the Fall, here in the Northeastern latitudes, many birds start their singing once again. There are a few reasons for this behaviour. Since it is the males that do most of the singing, it is the increased Testosterone both in the Spring months, and again in the Fall, that triggers these songs of territorial claims and mating attractions.

Like the cycles of life, after the Spring and Summer mating and rearing of young, the males go into another round of wanting to produce young. This triggers Testosterone production and singing. The cold weather then quickly stops the whole process. But in the meantime……..we all get the beautiful benefits of the songs they produce for a month or so, during the N.E. Fall season.

Scientist have also suggested that this Fall singing is connected to a group species, territorial declaration. The birds that do not migrate, will semi-group together, and stake claims to certain territories. There is some Social status involved here as well. Kinda like who is in charge while the majority of the species head off to wintering grounds,

No matter what exactly are the reasons for this resurgence in bird songs each Fall season, it is there, echoing in the colorful Fall trees, every year for our enjoyment. So, this year, when you head out for that Fall colors walk in the woods, stop and listen, and do not be surprised when you here many of those wonderful songs you heard in the Springtime. It is just another beautiful thing we get to experience here in Michigan, while living in a state that has all four seasons. What a nice Perk. 🙂


Dr. Bob Birding

December 22, 2011

You all know Dr. Bob by now. Him and his wife Judy, roam S.E.MI. parks, taking pictures and enjoying Birding in this corner of our state. Put together a short slideshow of some of Dr.Bob’s best from 2011. We hope to be seeing many more of his photos and stories of Birding adventures in Michigan.

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