Biggest Week, part 2

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – click to enlarge cuteness

Believe it or not, there were THREE Kirtland’s Warblers found at Magee Marsh during the Biggest Week this year (after we came home…pfft). I saw photos of two different males and one female, so there’s no doubt they were three separate individuals. I’m still frustrated at missing them, but hoping we’ll make up for it this weekend when we go up north. (We’re taking a Kirtland’s Warbler tour near Grayling to see them on their jack pine nesting grounds..yay!) In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the excitement through photos and videos of the birds and of the crowds chasing them in Ohio. I normally dread crowds, but I have to admit I would have been thrilled to be in that particular one! If you’re on Facebook you should be able to access this short video of the crowds going after the first Kirtland’s. And lots of other bloggers are writing about it as well — try Birdchick‘s for starters, and Google to find more if you want.

I plan to write more about some interesting things I learned in workshops at the BW this year, but first I feel the need to show you some more photos….

Gray Catbird singing for me — just him and I in the woods…it was very special

Despite the abundance of the tiny colorful warblers right now, this spring I’ve also fallen in love with the larger and relatively nondescript Gray Catbird.  I adore their little black caps atop their charcoal bodies. And who can resist their sweet catlike songs and calls? When one of them sang to me for a minute the other day before disappearing into the brush, I was lovestruck. And did you know that Catbirds have a secret? They have a hidden patch of russet brown under their tail that makes them even cooler. You can see it in the second photo here.

See his pretty brownish undertail coverts?

Catbirds have an unusual structure to their syrinx (that’s the bird’s version of our vocal cords) that allows them to make so many different sounds and mimic other animals. I’ve read that they have a repertoire of over 100 calls and songs. That’s one talented bird.

I’m including some pictures I took near home last weekend while doing my counts for the North American Migration Count in Oakland County. I was assigned to cover two parks near my home, Cranberry Lake and Bear Creek Nature Park. I was thrilled that both places have a variety of wonderful bird habitats, and I know I’ll be going back to both of them regularly. (It’s one of the blessings of living in Michigan that there are so many wonderful parks that I haven’t yet gotten around to all of them, even some of the ones within a few miles of my house.) By the way, if you’re interested in reading more about International Migratory Bird Day, go here: http://www.birdday.org/birdday.

Blue-winged Warbler gathering nesting material — not a great photo, but a wonderful memory!

Savannah Sparrow – a beautiful new life bird for me

Rain was predicted on NAMC count day, so I knew I had to get out early. If you knew how much of a morning person I’m not, you’d be surprised to know that I was out on the trails by 8 am,  and managed to cover both parks by noon. And the rain started as I was driving back home…very good timing. Not only did I do my part to contribute to bird science and conservation that day, but I also got three more life birds: Blue-winged warbler, Savannah Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow. I watched the Blue-winged Warbler carrying nesting material up into the trees — they apparently nest here, who knew?!

The Savannah Sparrow was brave enough to sit still long enough to let me slooowly creep closer, and I got a great picture of him, as you can see.  The White-crowned Sparrow wasn’t as cooperative, but I got enough to ID him positively. This particular area was loaded with birds, and right after I saw these guys I took this pic of a Magnolia Warbler (Maggie).

Magnolia Warbler checking me out

Right about this time a man with a barking dog came through, scaring away all my pretty birds. I thought the dog was being aggressive, but the owner said he was barking and growling because he was afraid of me. He was a big golden retriever too, so that was really odd to me. They’re usually such friendly dogs. But once he got to sniff my hand he was ok and off they went. Poor little guy obviously had some issues. Maybe it was all the catbirds driving him nuts…LOL.

Ok, let’s finish off with a few more pictures…enjoy!

Great Egret

American Redstart hiding from me

Trumpeter Swan honking and flying over our heads. So close we could hear the “whoomp whoomp” of his wings flapping — it was an amazing experience!

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