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Not just 1, or 2, however I’ve never seen 3 Pileated Woodpeckers at one time. And this time they were just 15 feet from the front door of the house we rented here in Northport Michigan.


Photo Journal

A solitary non-breeding Piping Plover was observed for about an hour on an isolated stretch of beach west of the old Coast Guard Station, which is now a Nautical Museum at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore.


Piping Plover

According to 2013 stats the Great Lakes Piping Plover population was at 66 pairs with 124 chicks fledged, which is the second highest number since they were put on the endangered species list. Nesting success were documented in Ontario Canada, Wisconsin, as well as the UP of Michigan. They even recorded some birds return to former breeding grounds on the Leelanau Peninsula.

While predators continue to be a threat to the southern Piping Plover population, the diligent work of biologist at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore has helped in successful re-nesting of the plovers that summer in the area. Over 1/3rd of all Great Lakes Piping Plovers summer over at Sleeping Bear Dunes each year.

And in 7 days I’ll be there.

Finally my much anticipated, and needed, vacation is almost here. And we’re off to the quaint little hamlet of Northport Michigan on the Leelanau Peninsula. Besides taking in the sights and flavor that the area has to offer (there are 11 craft breweries in the area) I will be heading over to the Sleeping Bear Dunes to search out 2 species which even though are on my life list, I really want to get some better photographs of them. One being the Piping Plover and the other being the Clay-colored Sparrow.

The best Piping Plover I have is this heavily cropped picture of one while visiting Hilton Head back in October of 2013.

IMG_3116This digiscoped photo was taken at the Fish Haul area of Hilton Head Island. If you ever go to Hilton Head I would highly recommend this place for shore birds.

So needless to say I’m kind of anxious to get some better photos of this bird without disturbing the nesting area, which I’m going to assume will be roped off to keep riff-raff like myself out.

The Clay-colored Sparrow I’ve only seen once. It was during the bird festival at Magee Marsh on Lake Erie. Jon was there with his family and he told me about one being sighted over on the beach hanging around some other sparrows under the scrubby bushes. And sure enough I spotted him, but was unable to get a picture. So hopefully I’ll be able to track down a few since they do summer in the area.

The cabin we’re staying in doesn’t have internet service so I don’t know when I’ll be able to post any pictures unless I get to an area where they have wifi .

So I’m off to Michigan. Wish me luck.

Notes From The Field

How long has it been since I was out birding? It seems like forever, but after a quick text to Jon arrangements were made an we were on our way despite the very hot and humid conditions that seem to settle over the Ohio Valley during the summer. It can be difficult to get motivated during these dog days to get out a do a little birding during the morning hours before the heat turns up, and this was our plan for the day, and Butler County was our choice for birds. Our first stop was Fernald Preserve.

We arrived early and started out scoping out Lodge Pond for any water fowl. The normal cast of characters were their, the resident Mute Swan, Wood Ducks with additional family members in tow, a lone American Coot and one Mallard. Not a great start to the day, but not unexpected. However not wanting to give up so soon we started to work the preserve and came away with some good birds.

IMG_2897 A Yellow-throated Warbler working the Evergreens that line the entry road into Fernald Preserve.

IMG_2889Another very common warbler during the summer months in pretty much all grassy habitats in Ohio, and I’m sure elsewhere, the Common Yellowthroat.

 IMG_2892As Jon and I hike back towards a wooded section of Fernald Preserve we spooked up 2 Green Herons that were hiding in this pond with heavy brush along the edge. This one landed in the top of this small tree where it stretched it’s neck for a better view.

Before leaving we meet a photographer who had photographed this unusual warbler in the same area along the evergreen lined entry road. The photo was the best but we got out of the car and looked around a little to satisfy our natural curiosity. Well we never found the mystery warbler but we did stumble upon a very cooperative Blue Grosbeak. One of my favorite summertime birds and one that I’m always trying to get a good photo of.


After Fernald Preserve we went to a new place, Governor Bebb Metropark. Birders have had some good luck with Henslow’s Sparrows and I’ve yet to see any this year.

Governor Bebb was a Whig politician who was born in Butler County in 1802. He was the 19th governor of Ohio from 1846 to 1849. After his governorship he was appointed by Abraham Lincoln to be the Examiner of the Pension Office in Washington D.C.

So to honor a native Ohio son they have this real nice 264 acre preserve named after him. Part of the preserve besides the fields, meadows and woods is a historic village that has several historic log buildings. They even have the Bebb Cabin built in 1799 near to where my wife grew up.

The sun was really cranking up the heat as the morning waned into the afternoon, but Jon and I wandered the mowed path through the meadow where the Henslow’s have been seen. Unfortunately no Henslow’s were seen let alone heard. But it wasn’t a total bust as we worked a wooded edge when we heard a Summer Tanager back in the woods.

IMG_2931Not a very good photo since I was shooting into a darker forest from a sunny location and at quite a distance.

IMG_2927The butterflies were pretty spectacular at Gov. Bebb Preserve, which included this Giant Swallowtail

IMG_2940Wood Nymph

The sun was baking now and it was time to call it quits. However we did have a pretty good list for the day despite the heat.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Pigeon
  2. Mourning Dove
  3. Wood Thrush
  4. Barn Swallow
  5. Tree Swallow
  6. Cliff Swallow
  7. Chimney Swift
  8. Purple Martin
  9. Robin
  10. Northern Cardinal
  11. Northern Mockingbird
  12. Eastern Towhee
  13. Song Sparrow
  14. Field Sparrow
  15. Chipping Sparrow
  16. Mute Swan
  17. Wood Duck
  18. Mallard
  19. American Coot
  20. Eastern Kingbird
  21. Eastern Wood Pewee
  22. Willow Flycatcher
  23. Acadian Flycatcher
  24. Summer Tanager
  25. Common Yellowthroat
  26. Yellow-throated Warbler
  27. Yellow-breasted Chat
  28. Red-winged Black Bird
  29. Eastern Goldfinch
  30. Dickcissel
  31. Blue Grosbeak
  32. Indigo Bunting
  33. Eastern Meadowlark
  34. House Wren
  35. Gray Catbird
  36. Brown Thrasher
  37. White-eyed Viroe
  38. Red-eyed Vireo
  39. Yellow-throated Vireo
  40. Red-tail Hawk
  41. American Kestrel
  42. Turkey Vulture
  43. Black Vulture
  44. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  45. Killdeer
  46. Red-headed Woodpecker
  47. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  48. Northern Flicker
  49. Down Woodpecker
  50. Green Heron
  51. Great Blue Heron
  52. Eastern Bluebird

A Birders Haiku

rock garden

The grayness of

evenings clouds envelope, hide

the Gnatcatcher’s movement

Do Hummingbirds Remember?

Has this scenario ever happened to you. You were a little negligent in getting your hummingbird feeders cleaned, filled, and hung up outside after a long winter? Were the hummingbirds looking at you through your front window with pitiful looks on their little faces? Or in the case with my own hummingbirds, they would hover in the exact location where I’ve hung my feeders for the past several years. One in my front yard tree, another from the eaves of my front porch, and one more hanging from a shepherds hook in my perennial garden, also in my front yard.

So my question is, do they remember where feeders were hung from previous years? And if they were the same pair of hummingbirds that would make sense, however how would one find out if they were the same pair. And if they are different birds how would they know that hummingbird feeders were hanging there at one time?

I would watch (feeling quite guilty by the way) as they hovered either under the tree, or under the eaves looking for my feeders. I never noticed this behavior before since I normally get my feeders up in the early part of April, which is just about right for their arrival in my part of Ohio. It’s usually a male and female who claim my yard as their own, plus the romantic in me want to think it’s the same pair I’ve had for several years. Which would explain why they were looking for their feeders. I felt like a bad owner of a pet dog or cat.

But now their happy, chasing each other around the yard and posing for some photo-ops.

IMG_2766From her perch in our Serviceberry Tree.