Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Birds’

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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.

Corn

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.

TwoBirds

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.

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BIRDIES are Here……in DROVES!!!!!!

November 15, 2013

FinchThis has been a very interesting experience for me. After many, many years of leading Hikes and IDing birds, Volunteering for Bird Habitat re-newels, and generally enjoying spotting and watching for Birds out in the Field, I finally decided to start up Bird Feeders and Bird Habitats in my own yard.

One of the Feeding Trees

One of the Feeding Trees

When I first started a couple of months ago, I had absolutely NO results. Not a single bird showed up to sample any of the delectable treats I was leaving for them. I checked with local neighbors, who have been feeding the Birds for years in my area, and they told me that this was the slowest year for Birds coming to their Feeders, that they had ever experienced.

So I made a Post to all you HM people about this problem and concern I was having with the total lack of response to my Feeders and Bird habitat I was creating in my yard.

I received so many responses from you HM Hikers, it took me almost a week to sort through all the great advice.But it was sure worth it, and I now Thank all of you for your wonderful suggestions and directions in what to do.

I now have one of the most extensive Bird Sanctuaries in S.E.Michigan. 🙂 🙂 I have now erected over 8 different types of Feeders, from open Tray style, to Nut-filled tubes. I have Suet blocks and special Saffron seed feeders. I also have installed a Water-Bath at ground level, which has turned out to be extremely popular with ALL visitors.

m6cOhcq-L2VJh5P9bW_CciwBesides following the advice from all of you experienced and helpful HM members, I came across a Wonderful book thatSiskin has been, and will continue to be my “GO TOO” book on Bird Feeders and Backyard Bird habitats. It’s called the “Backyard Bird Feeders BIBLE”, by Sally Hayes. What an unbelievable Book. It covers everything from store-bought food, to creating your own mixes. I have followed much of the advice in this Book, and have come to find that the best advice I received from you HM people, where the advice most given in this Bird Bible.

All this Food, Water and other Goodies has also attracted other critters. 5 very old, fat Fox Squirrels, and one very small youngster. A unique Red Squirrel (what a treat), and 3 Chipmunks. I enjoy the Chipmunks, Red squirrel and small Fox Squirrels. But those large adult Fox squirrels are just plain Bullies and gluttons. By using some Pepper sprayed on the trees and ground, and chasing some of these squirrels with my Witches broom, :-), I have managed to keep the peace amongst all the critters so far.

All but one. A night visitor, who just wants to pull down feeders and destroy whatever he can get his hands on. A very large Possum. Still working on

No Trouble....Baby Squirrel

No Trouble….Baby Squirrel

a fix to deal with this guy. I do not wish to harm him, but he better behave or he will leave me with no alternative. Suggestions?

So……with weeks worth of patience, all the great advice from all you helpful HM Bird people, and an example of just about every food known to Bird-dom, the Birds are arriving in droves on a daily basis. The proper habitat, Trees and Bushes, not to mention plenty of cover, has attracted almost every species in the area. Now the neighbors are wandering by and wondering why they see flocks of Birds circling the property. 🙂 Finches of all colors, Sparrows of every type, Jays, Cardinals, various Woodpeckers, Juncos, Red-breasted and white breasted Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, and even Pine Siskins. This is just the tip of the Bird list so far. New species discover the Sanctuary almost every day.

I am installing a couple of audio/video cameras to listen and watch the activity. Mostly to listen to all the sounds. And believe me there are many sounds. Next Spring I will be constructing a small Pond and waterfall, complete with Frogs, Turtles and even better habitat for even more Bird species.

Once again, I would like to say Thank You for all the suggestions and advice you HM Birders gave me in helping to put together the start of what will be an ever-growing Bird Feeding Sanctuary, here in Rochester.

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What Happened to the BIRDS????

November 3, 2013

A few weeks ago a made a Post requesting advice from all the HM members, on how to best attract Birds on my property. I received so many wonderful suggestions and ideas. So I went out to my nearest “BIRDS UNLIMITED” store and purchased all types of Bird feed and Feeders, and placed them all around my yard.

I have Suet blocks, Nut Feeders, general seed Feeders, you name it. I will make a separate Post on all the suggestions I received and all the research I did afterwards, in search of quality Bird Feed and Feeders. For now, I wanted to focus on something odd that has happened.

Well……I set up all these various Feeders around the Yard. The property has White Pine Trees and Apple Trees and many other species of Trees and shrubs. An all-round habitat for almost any kind of Bird. YET…….after more then two weeks, I have almost no visitors. No Birds at all.

I started to talking with neighbors and friends in the Rochester area, and they too have noticed that there has been very few Birds visiting their Feeders as well. Puzzling indeed? Many locals have told me they have not had a single Bird of any type, come and Feed. I realize we are just past the Migration time for Birds heading to their Winter grounds, or even shifting to their Winter food sources, but…….No Birds at all? Very odd?

I went and visited some of the local Parks and finally found some Birds. But very few and only in very selected areas. High food and water source areas. But these backyard Feeders,complete with Bird Baths and Water Feeders too, are attracting almost no Birds. And this seems to be something that just started happening this year, from August onward. So what is happening here?

Is this taking place all over the state? Up North as well? Please let me know and give some feed-back on what might be happening with our Birds. Like I mentioned. This is not held to any one species. It is across the board. All Birds seem to be hiding or have gone somewhere. What Happened Here??????

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New Michigan RAPTORS ID sheets

August 4, 2013

BirdSilloettesMost of the time, when we spot a Raptor in Michigan, it ends up being a silhouette of the bird flying overhead or soaring. Sometimes we get lucky and get a close enough view of the bird, to observe colors and distinct markings. So we put together an updated silhouette ID sheet for Michigan Raptors.

It is a great way to start to become familiar with what Raptors are in the area, allowing us to get closer and actually see the details of these magnificent birds. Michigan has seen an big increase in Raptors these last few years. At Stony Creek Metro Park HIKING Trails, there was an Eagles nest and a Osprey nest withing a 1/2 mile of one another.

Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food primarily on the wing, using their keen senses, especially vision. They are defined as any bird that kills its prey with its talons. Their talons and beaks tend to be relatively large, powerful and adapted for tearing and/or piercing flesh. In most cases, the females are considerably larger than the males. The term “raptor” is derived from the Latin word “rapere” (meaning to seize or take by force) and may refer informally to all birds of prey, or specifically to the diurnal group.

The diurnal birds of prey are formally classified into five families:

  • Accipitridae: hawks, eagles, buzzards, harriers, kites and Old World vultures
  • Pandionidae: the Osprey (sometimes classified as subfamily Pandioninae of the previous family)
  • Sagittariidae: the Secretary Bird
  • Falconidae: falcons and caracaras
  • Cathartidae: New world vultures including condors.

The nocturnal birds of prey – the owls – are classified separately as members of two extant families of the order Strigiformes:

  • Strigidae: (typical owls)
  • Tytonidae: (barn and bay owls).

Types of Birds of Prey

* Eagles tend to be large birds with long, broad wings and massive feet. Booted eagles have legs and feet feathered to the toes and build very large stick nests.
* Ospreys, a single species found worldwide that specializes in catching fish, and builds large stick nests.
* Kites have long wings and relatively weak legs. They spend much of their time soaring. They will take live vertebrate prey but mostly feed on insects or even carrion.
* The true Hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that usually belong to the genus Accipiter (see below). They are mainly woodland birds that hunt by sudden dashes from a concealed perch. They usually have long tails for tight steering.
* Buzzards are medium-large raptors with robust bodies and broad wings, or, alternatively, any bird of the genus Buteo (also commonly known as “hawks” in North America).
* Harriers are large, slender hawk-like birds with long tails and long thin legs. Most use a combination of keen eyesight and hearing to hunt small vertebrates, gliding on their long broad wings and circling low over grasslands and marshes.
* Vultures are carrion-eating raptors of two distinct biological families, each occurring in only the Eastern Hemisphere (Accipitridae) or the Western (Cathartidae). Members of both groups have heads either partly or fully devoid of feathers.
* Falcons are small to medium-size birds of prey with long pointed wings. Unlike most other raptors, they belong to the Falconidae, rather than the Accipitridae. Many are particularly swift flyers. Instead of building their own nests, falcons appropriate old nests of other birds, but sometimes they lay their eggs on cliff ledges or in tree hollows. Caracaras are a distinct subgroup of the Falconidae unique to the New World, and most common in the Neotropics – their broad wings, naked faces and appetites of a generalist suggest some level of convergence with either the Buteos or the vulturine birds, or both.
* Owls are variable-sized, typically night-specialized hunting birds. They fly with extremely little audible turbulence due to special feather structure and have particularly acute hearing.

Download our recently updated Michigan Raptors silhouette sheets here:

MICHIGAN RAPTORS

Michigan-RAPTORS-ID1Michigan-RAPTORS-ID2

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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.

MichiganRaptors

MigrationRaptors

MICHIGAN RAPTORS ID SHEETS

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

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:

JanetLogo

Janet Hug –                                                                   Dr.BobBlog

CHECK HER BLOG AT

and Dr. Bob –

CHECK HIS BLOG AT

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. 🙂

CraneCreek

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.

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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:

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search

http://ebird.org/content/ebird/

http://identify.whatbird.com/mwg/_/0/attrs.aspx

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birding/backyard-bird-identifier/

BirdBodyIDP1

BirdBodyIDP2

 

You can Download our new BIRD ID SHEETS here:

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Raptors at the Backyard Bird Feeders

December 2, 2012

Recently, Janet Hug our HM Newsletter Birding expert, posted a Cool picture of a Hawk waiting on a backyard fence, near a group of Bird feeders. I have just started to notice this kind of behaviour over the last few years, but apparently, from all the input I have received on the HM Facebook page on this subject, this has always been pretty common behaviour from predator Birds.

Janet Hug backyard Bird Feeders with waiting Hawk

Janet Hug backyard Bird Feeders with waiting Hawk

I find this very interesting, that these Birds of Prey have figured out that there are regularly available meals, coming and going in a backyard that contains bird feeders that are filled and maintained consistently. Just sit on a fence or tree limb nearby, and wait for the meal of your choice. Brilliant!

Just last summer, near a very used backyard feeder, I seen a nature scene unfold before my eyes. There where Sparrows, Chickadees and Finches, coming and going to these couple of overfilled bird feeders in my neighbors yard. As one group went in for food, others would wait in the surrounding bushes for their turns.

All of a sudden, there was all these shrieks of alarm and excitement. The Feeder cleared out and all the birds that where on the tops of the bushes nearby, either quickly flew off, or worked their way deeper into the cover of the bushes. Something was going on here.

Then……like a bomb from the sky, a red-tailed Hawk came almost straight down from above, with his wings tucked close to his body. He dive-bombed directly into the nearby bush containing many sparrows and Finches, and disappeared inside completely. I never seen this before. In about a minute his head poked up from within the bush as he worked himself the rest of the way out of the bush. When he emerged and started to fly off, I could see he had a sparrow in his talons. Lunch.

A minute or so later, the feeder and surrounding area was back to it’s normal busy/buzzing self. Birds feeding on the feeders and others waiting on top the surrounding bushes, like nothing had happened.

Apparently this was something commonplace for these Birds and after the alert, there was no reason to continue to be on high alert, and everyone went back to the task at hand……feeding at the Feeders. Just another common activity in the day to day Natural world cycles. Pretty amazing to me. Common place for all the Birds involved.

DOWNLOAD A RAPTORS ID SHEET HERE.

MichiganRaptors

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