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Bird of the Week: Northern Harrier

  • September 16, 2020

Northern Harriers might be one of the more underrated raptor species in Michigan, but that doesn’t make them any less cool. These birds are easily recognized by their slim bodies, long tails and owl-like face. While they’re not related to owls, they share some characteristics with them, including a facial disk to help them hear their prey. These birds prefer marshes and grasslands with low vegetation and can be seen gliding low to the ground when looking for food. Male…

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Bird of the Week: American Kestrel

  • September 16, 2020

When most people think of birds of prey, they envision large, powerful raptors ruling over the skies. With the preconception planted firmly in our minds, when the American Kestrel enters the scene it is often mistaken as something much more demurer. Once commonly referred to as “Sparrow Hawks”, this nickname reflects their small stature as well as one of their favorite meal choices. These birds, however, aren’t hawks at all and are instead classified as a type of falcon. They…

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Bird of the Week: Broad-winged Hawk

  • September 9, 2020

The month of September marks the official beginning of one of the greatest natural phenomena to occur in southeast Michigan…hawk migration! Each year, from September to November, thousands of raptors are heading south for the winter. For the next three months, 16 different species of raptors will fly over our area. Interestingly, they do not all pass on the same seasonal schedule. Some are on the move earlier in the migration season and others later in the season. An early…

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Bird of the Week: American Goldfinch

  • September 1, 2020

Our visitors often ask, “Do we have Canaries in Michigan?” The short answer is no, but right away our staff realizes the patron has just seen a male American Goldfinch. The male wears his bright yellow breeding color in the summer, accessorized with black wings and cap. He is dressed to impress! His mate will be wearing a much more subdued olive drab color; better to hide from potential predators while incubating eggs in the nest. The bright male is…

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Bird of the Week: Baltimore Oriole

  • August 25, 2020

If you see a flash of orange and black flitting through the trees, it just might be a Baltimore Oriole. Named in 1808, the colors of the male oriole resembled those on the coat of arms of George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, who was part of the Calvert family that established the Maryland colony in the 17th century. Even though they may have a noble heritage, the Baltimore Oriole is better known for its nest. The nest is a wonderful feat…

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Bird of the Week: Black-crowned Night-Heron

  • August 18, 2020

As their name suggests, the Black-crowned Night-Heron does most of its hunting at night. Although they are common in the wetlands of Michigan they are not seen as often as other herons such as the Great Blue Heron who hunts during the day. During the day, the Black-crowned Night-Heron roosts in group nests that may consist of other bird species like other herons and egrets. Towards dusk the heron will leave the roost and head towards the edges of water…

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Bird of the Week: Indigo Bunting

  • August 11, 2020

It's hard not to be impressed by this bright beauty. The male indigo bunting demands attention with its striking blue color but, as with the blue jay and eastern bluebird, it isn't truly blue. The feathers of blue birds don’t actually contain any blue pigment, which is actually quite rare in the natural world. The blue hue is created by the optical illusion of light scattering. When light hits a blue feather, all the colors of the wavelength are absorbed,…

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Bird of the Week: Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

  • August 4, 2020

If you hear a raspy meowing from a tree along the nature trail, think “bird”, not “cat”! You’ve probably just heard the call of the Gray Catbird. Its feathers are a uniform slate gray, with a rust-colored patch under its tail, but it is most well-known for its “meowing” call. Lucky observers might see it bobbing its long tail while it forages for insects. Catbirds are good parents. Their nest is tucked away in brambles, shrubs and thorny thickets, hopefully…

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Bird of the Week: Ruby-throated Hummingbird

  • July 28, 2020

Planting tubular flowers or setting up feeders can attract these fast flitting birds to your yard. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird will feed from hummingbird feeders filled with a mixture of one quarter cup of table sugar per cup of water. As for flowers they prefer orange or red tubular flowers, but there is no need to color your sugar water these colors. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird through slow-motion videography has been clocked when hovering at 55 complete wind strokes per second, 61/second when…

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Bird of the Week: Eastern Meadowlark

  • July 21, 2020

This beautiful singer and cousin to red-winged blackbirds shares its tune across the tops of fields and grasslands. This robin-sized songbird can be identified by a bold “V” of black on its yellow chest, and a brownish backside. Meadowlarks are ground-nesters, and camouflage well into the dirt and grasses. Females construct a cup nest using grasses, stems, and bark all on their own. Male meadowlarks will often have two mates within their territory and are vocal to protect their space…

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