Gallery 2

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Spruce Grouse Male Displaying

Spruce Grouse male displaying

In Michigan’s EUP Spruce Grouse are permanent residents most likely found in areas of mature jack pine forest.  The ground is mossy and often interspersed with wild blueberry plants, as pictured on this early spring day.  I found this male displaying in what is sometimes referred to as a “room” – a clearing where he performs courtship daily, usually in the early morning.  You can sometimes identify a “room” by looking for piles of droppings in the appropriate habitat.  To the left of the photo there was a female hidden at the base of a small jack pine, but with a good view.  The male approached her, walking from the left while swaying his partially fanned tail side to side.  Then he came to an abrupt stop and puffed out his chest while briefly fanning his tail completely.

12″ x 18″ or larger

MALE BAY-BREASTED WARBLER

Male Bay-breasted Warbler

7″ x 10.5″      10″ x 15″

Bay-breasted Warblers breed mostly in Ontario but migrate through Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula. On a very cold morning in mid-May, this individual gave me the very rare opportunity to capture its image well. It had crossed Lake Huron the night before and, along with many other varieties of warblers, warmed itself in the morning sun that was hitting the eastern edge of a forest, which served as shelter from the wind coming out of the west.  This was probably my most rewarding example of how weather conditions can determine where birds will locate.

MALE SNOWY OWL FLIGHT

Snowy Owl (White Ghost)

12″ x 16″

The Pickford area of the EUP held a surprising number of Snowy owls in winter of 2014/2015, and voles, their main prey, were abundant.  This male snowy owl was one of at least five adult males in the area, all of whom eventually set up territories and kicked out all of the other snowy owls.

Male American Kestrel at nest #2

Male American Kestrel at Nest 2

11″ x 14″      12″ x 16″

While driving a back road just outside of Pickford, in Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula, a female kestrel flew from a field, across my windshield, with a vole in its talons.  It flew directly into a forest patch so I strongly suspected there was a nest cavity at that location because it was the nesting season for kestrels.  I asked the land owner of the forest for permission to do a search and photograph the nest if it was a photogenic nest location.  It was and the owner liked his print of this photo.

Great Blue Heron Reflection

Great Blue Heron Reflection

     10″ x 15″

During the spring and summer this bird flies from a rookery that is about 6 miles away to a cove near my home.  It hunts for minnows, amphibians and aquatic insects in and around the edges of the grassy sections near shore.  On our private drive I photographed from my car window and it was undisturbed by my car stopping and engine shutting off.

LONG-TAILED DUCK COURTSHIP 2

Long-tailed Duck Courtship 2

12″ x 18″

In late March or early April, hundreds of Long-Tailed Ducks occupy the waters between the DeTour Village and Drummond Island ferry docks. The Drummond Island dock can be an excellent location for viewing these ducks (and other diving ducks) in the morning.  Long-taileds rarely come close to the dock, but during this photograph a group landed within camera range. They stayed within camera range for an extended period of time and gave me an opportunity to photograph a variety of courtship behaviors.

MALE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

7″ x 10.5″

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are a common breeding bird of Northern Michigan.  This male had a nest about 100 yards away from this sap-yielding tree in early June. He and the female would return to this tree often, bringing insects in their beaks to dip in the sap before flying back to feed their young.

Trout Creek winter sunset

Trout Creek Winter Sunset

12″ x 18″

When the thawing snow formed huge puddles that froze at this location I hoped for a forecast of no snow and a beautiful sunset.  Luckily it happened.

Bald Eagle in spruce

Bald Eagle in Spruce

11″ x 14″

A pair of Bald Eagles nest on an island by my home that is located on the shore of northern Lake Huron. The day of this photograph, the normally wary adult bird allowed a close approach.

Male Kirtland Warbler

Male Kirtland Warbler

8″ x 10″       10″ x 15″

One day over a decade ago, I met a young American Indian riding his ATV near the town of Raco. I was on a remote road doing bird photography.  He told me his people were going to bring back the Kirtland Warbler.  They were in the initial stages of planting large tracts of Jack pines.  When the trees would become about 6 feet tall the habitat would be appropriate for Kirtland Warblers for about fifteen years. This photo, taken a decade later, confirmed his prophecy.

MALE RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS

Male Red-breasted Merganser’s Reflection

12″ x 18″

In early May, Red-breasted Mergansers arrive from the south to the more exposed and rugged waters along the north shore of Lake Huron. Rarely are these waters calm and like glass in the morning.  I took this photo at the tip of a rocky peninsula, a favored gathering location.

Male Scarlet Tanager in wild roses

Male Scarlet Tanager in Wild Roses

7″x 10.5″      10″ x 15″

In early June, I set up a water drip and pool at the edge of a large tract of mature hardwood forest where some blooming wild roses occur.  The forest’s most colorful resident came in to bathe. In the winter this species lives in northern and western South America, where there are many types of very colorful, resident tropical tanagers. But the male Scarlet Tanager loses his color before arriving on the winter grounds.  His brilliant red fades to a dull yellow-green during fall and winter.

AMERICAN BITTERN FLIGHT

American Bittern Flight – back view

12″ x 18″

Soon after the ice melts in the marshes along northern Lake Huron (typically in April), American Bitterns arrive on their breeding territory.  They stay hidden in the tall grasses, yet walk around a lot.  But in early morning, they will sometimes fly from one spot to a distant spot in the marsh.

Barred Owl snow flight

Barred Owl Snow Flight

12″ x 18″

On years with a very cold winter Barred Owls in Northern Michigan will sometimes hunt during the day.  Soon after a snow squall began this bird flew from a very exposed perch in an open marsh to the shelter of a mixed forest with many cedars and pines.

Male Blackburnian Warbler attitude

Male Blackburnian Warbler Attitude

8″ x 10″       11″ x 14″

On the spring after many spruce trees had an abundant cone crop some cone-laden tree tops broke off during a wind storm.  I found the top of a few trees on the ground on my property and set them up near a water drip and shallow pond I set up to attract migrating songbirds.  This beautiful bird was attracted to the sound of the water and reacted to the sound of the camera shutter with this pose.

Beavertail Cove sunrise

Beavertail Cove Sunrise

12″ x 18″

A January morning in a sheltered cove along the northern Lake Huron shoreline.  The low clouds beyond the treeline are over ice-free waters of Lake Huron.  On cold mornings these low clouds often form.

Common Loon with chick riding

Common Loon with Chick Riding

12″ x 18″

At about nine days old this chick was riding much less often than a few days before.  Mom would rarely let it ride any more, and would dive soon after the chick successfully made it onto her back, and the chick had to swim behind her. These were perhaps the first lessons to develop independence.

MALE GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER

Male Golden-winged Warbler

8″ x 10″         10″ x 14″

In the shrubby tangles on the edges of some forests of the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this ground nesting resident warbler makes its spring/summer home.  It is being considered for protection in Michigan because of declines in its population.

Great Grey Owl captures Red-backed vole

Great Grey Owl Captures Red-backed Vole

8″ x 10″      11″ x 14″

This owl hunted a field interspersed with shrubs, without concern for my presence.  Red-backed voles are active all winter, and they are an important winter food source for Great Grey Owls.   Large numbers of  these owls (over 4,500) came to Minnesota the winter of 2004-2005.   In some places so many individuals grouped together to hunt that they depleted the voles of the area within days, then moved on, as a group, to other areas in search of prey abundance.

MALE BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER

Male Black-throated Green Warbler in Budding Tamarack

7″ x 10.5″

Black-throated Green Warblers are a common breeding bird of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  This territorial male chose a favored singing perch in a tamarack with developing cones in their most colorful stage.

Robin feeding in ice

Robin Feeding on Iced Berries

8″ x 10″        11″ x 14″

My wife, Giuliana, captured this image after a fall ice storm.  Groups of robins fed on the frozen berries close to our home.

LX6Z2630 downsized shp

Pond in Fall Color and Fog

12″ x 18″

On the way to the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a fall color photography trip, this scene presented itself on the cold and calm early morning of the day my wife and I left.

Male Blue-winged warbler downsized

Male Blue-winged Warbler

7″ x 10.5″     10″ x 15″

Blue-winged warblers nest in open situations with low shrubbery and bushy thickets, often times in fields or along the borders of woods. They have expanded their breeding range northward, with a few pairs detected as breeding in Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula (as of 2016).  I expect to detect a nesting pair in the Eastern Upper Peninsula within a few years.  I found this individual in the Jordan River Valley, in the northwestern lower peninsula of Michigan.

Black Tern Turning

Black Tern Turning

10″ x 15″          12″ x 18″

Black Terns nest in a few marshes along the northern shore of Lake Huron.  Early in the morning  an entire tern colony can take flight and feed on airborne insects.  When terns rapidly change direction they do so with the underside of there wings facing the wind so they can use the wind for lift as they turn.  This tern used a west wind, so the top side of its wings and back faced east, the appropriate direction for perfect illumination from the morning sun.