Friday, July 3, 2015

Van Buren County Summer Chorus

        As I go about my outdoor activities around the homestead, I am constantly reminded of how very lucky I feel to have put down roots here. Today a Scarlet Tanager has been singing almost nonstop from the treetops behind the garage. A Gray Catbird skulking in the lilac bushes near the workshop makes me giggle with his attempts to imitate the tanager, his catbird accent clearly audible. The local House Wren attends to his many nests while clearly announcing this is his place. A little deeper in the woods behind the garage the beautiful flutelike voice of the resident Wood Thrush sings counterpoint to the tanager. A Red-eyed Vireo holds up his end of the concert, as well. Holding up the flycatcher section is the Eastern Wood-pewee and Eastern Phoebe. And for occasional variation, a Baltimore Oriole and Yellow-throated Vireo chime in every so often. My favorite musical performances happen in my yard, on a summer day, in Van  Buren County.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is my evening guest

This time of year spring migration is heating up, and the cast of characters in my yard changes daily. I usually walk my dogs with the leash in one hand and my zeiss binos in the other. Usually I am sorting through various warblers, sparrows, vireos and flycatchers. While I was doing this tonight, however, I was distracted by the honking of a Canada Goose that flew over. I looked up and immediately saw another bird tagging along behind the goose. As it skimmed the treetops I thought, "Great Blue Heron - no, WOW Black-crowned Night-heron, which was exciting in its own right, as I have never had one in the yard. But as the bird startled me by swooping up to a perch in a dead ash tree, I realized it was a yard bird/county bird/state bird for me, and one that is extremely hard to find in Southwest Michigan - a Yellow-crowned Night-heron. I watched it for about ten minutes as it croaked and kept a wary eye on a crow that was very interested in the stranger. Finally, I decided to take a chance and run inside for the camera. Not only did it wait for pics, but it waited for the scope, AND the pics were in focus, mostly! Here he is, a totally fabulous Yellow-crowned Night-heron, complete with nuptial plumes!

Bird on!