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Bird of the Week: Blue Heron

  • April 6, 2021

Welcome to bird of the week! This week’s featured bird is the majestic great blue heron. It is officially spring and with spring comes the return of great blue herons to Southeast Michigan. Right now, these tall, long-legged birds are engaging in courtship rituals and nest building. Great blue herons are colony nesters, meaning they nest with other herons, placing their large nests high up in trees in what is called a rookery or heronry. Often these herons place rookeries…

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Bird of the Week: Long-eared Owl

  • March 30, 2021

This week’s bird of the week is one of the 8 species of owls that live in Michigan, the Long-eared Owl. This owl is long-winged and slender and is named for the two long ear-tufts on top of its head, which also make this bird look constantly surprised. It’s dark streaked and barred feathers allow this bird to camouflage itself close to the trunk of a tree under dense foliage, where it commonly roosts during the day to rest for…

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Bird of the Week: Red-headed Woodpecker

  • March 23, 2021

With its fully crimson red head, white body, black tail, and half white half deep black wings, the Red-headed Woodpecker is one of the more easily identifiable woodpeckers that live in Michigan. This bird is found throughout most of the lower 48 states in forests, orchards, farmland, grassland, and along roadsides. Since the woodpecker excavates a nest cavity in tree trunks using its chisel-shaped bill, it prefers to nest in softer wood like dead or dying pine, maple, cottonwood, or…

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Bird of the Week: Red-breasted Nuthatch

  • March 16, 2021

Found throughout the continental US and southern Canada, the Red-breasted Nuthatch’s nasal “yenk yenk” call can be heard year-round. This small songbird is smaller than the more common White-breasted Nuthatch and can be identified by its distinctive white throat, bluish back, black stripe through its eyes, and reddish orange breast. This bird is typically seen foraging for insects, like beetles, caterpillars, and ants, under the bark of tree trunks in mature forests. Its toes are adapted to allow the nuthatch…

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Bird of the Week: Cedar Waxwing

  • March 9, 2021

For a primarily grey and brown bird, Cedar Waxwings are a surprisingly showy resident of our parks. A black-mask across their eyes and a yellow tail tip give them the look of a comic book superhero, while characteristic red tips on their wings give them their name. Ornithologist’s best guess at the reason for these waxy red tips is as a status symbol. As a waxwing ages, it will gain red tips, and consequently these birds seem to be the…

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Bird of the Week: Mourning Dove

  • February 23, 2021

The melancholy, hollow, and mournful call is how this bird was named the Mourning Dove. This extremely adaptable bird has greatly benefited from the development of forests into fields and farms throughout the country. They can find habitat almost anywhere besides dense woodlands. You can often spot them resting on telephone wires and foraging for seeds on roadsides. This adaptability allows them to be prolific throughout the United States, Mexico, and into Canada. In Michigan there are few species as…

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Bird of the Week: Northern Cardinal

  • February 16, 2021

This beautiful red bird is a year-round resident here in Michigan and a common and easily identified sight among our neighborhoods. The Northern Cardinal wasn’t always a back-yard songbird here in our state. In fact, it wasn’t a common bird in the Lower Peninsula until an increasing trend from the 1960s through the 1990s. Today this bird is plentiful in the southern Lower Peninsula, often seen in the northern Lower Peninsula, and scarce in the Upper Peninsula. The increase in…

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Bird of the Week: Ring-necked Pheasant

  • February 9, 2021

Few birds inspire a sense of Americana the way Ring-necked pheasants do. Would it surprise you to know that these chicken-sized birds aren’t originally American at all? They instead come from Asia. The first birds came to the United State early on (George Washington is rumored to have released a flock), but their first successful introduction into the wild wasn’t until 1881 in Oregon. Since then, their meat and plumage have cemented them as a prime game bird, and thus…

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Bird of the Week: American Robin

  • January 26, 2021

In honor of Michigan’s statehood on January 26th, this week’s bird of the week is our state bird, the American Robin. This common backyard bird is often a sign of spring in northern states like ours, plucking worms from the thawing ground. However, they’re found year-round in nearly every part of the contiguous United States. Recognizable by their rusty orange breast against grey-brown head, wings, back, and tail feathers, this is a bird that had adapted well to all sorts…

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Bird of the Week: Snowy Owl

  • January 6, 2021

The Snowy Owl is an exciting owl to spot during our Michigan winters. This white and tuft-less owl primarily lives and breeds in the arctic tundra of Canada. When migrating south for the winter, their southern range doesn’t extend much further than southern Michigan. In fact, typically only immature birds fly this far south. Adults tend to stay closer to their breeding grounds during migration. Due to this, only one to three dozen are spotted each year in the state…

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