Gallery 5

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OSPREY WITH CATFISH

Osprey with Bullhead Catfish

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

Osprey breed in many locations in the EUP.  The Les Cheneaux area and the St. Mary’s River are good places to find them. This male Osprey brought a bullhead catfish from the St. Mary’s River to his mate.

MALE CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER

Male Chestnut-sided Warbler

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

Chestnut-sided Warblers are a common breeder in the shrubby clearings of the EUP.  During spring migration they can be seen flitting in the cedars along the northern shore of Lake Huron while they feed on midges.

SHARP-TAILED GROUSE DANCING IN SNOW

Sharp-tailed Grouse Dancing in Snow

12 x 18″ or larger

The fields of the EUP have many Sharp-Tailed Grouse leks.  A lek is an area of a field where males and females gather and the males dance in competitive displays that attract females.  The male puts his head down, puffs out his purple cheeks, raises his yellow eyebrows, raises his tail and shakes it side to side, extends his wings to the side and shutters them quickly, all while stomping his feet and either turning in circles or running. Wow! It’s no wonder that the American Indian rituals imitating this dance cause the participants to sweat.  The bird in the foreground is stomping and circling; the one in the background is stomping and running.

MALE PILEATED WOODPECKER WITH GRUB

Male Pileated Woodpecker “Perserverance”

5″ x 10″            8″ x 16″

Pileated Woodpeckers are abundant in the forests of the EUP.  The amount of work they do to find the larva of wood-boring beetles is amazing.  Look carefully.  He has the prize in his beak.

GOLDENEYE COURTSHIP

Goldeneye Courtship Behavior

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

In winters when there is open water along the shoreline of northern Lake Huron, some Goldeneye ducks will spend the winter.  On certain days in early spring, they migrate through the shoreline waters in large numbers. During this time there is a lot of courtship behavior. Here a female is between two males, and each has a different courtship pose.

Philadelphia Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

8″ x 10″         11″ x 14″

Philadelphia Vireos nest to the north of Michigan but pass through in migration.  They can be a curious and tame bird at times.  This bird had complete trust in me as it fed on insects on a peninsula tip of northern Lake Huron during a stop on its southward journey in September.  It would (hopefully) eventually reach Central America, its wintering area.

Red moss late April

Red Moss late April

10″ x 18″

Short-earred Owl perched

Short-eared Owl Perched

12″ x 18″

Short-eared owls often hunt over large grasslands just before and after dusk.  In their non-breeding season they will hunt together, flying low with a moth-like flight over a grassland.  If a road passes through the area there is a chance one of the owls will stop to rest on a low perch near the road, such as this old fence post.

Merlin attack

Merlin Attack

10″ x 15″

I found this Merlin on a windy day in early September at Pt. LaBarbe, on the northwest side of the Mackinac Bridge, which connects Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  It was hunting the ground below from a power line, along with an American Kestrel perched about 40 yards down the line.  I believe both birds were migrating, and stopped to feed before crossing the Straits of Mackinac on their southward journey.  When the Kestrel caught a grasshopper the Merlin attacked it, but struggled against the strong wind.  That gave me the chance to photograph its much slower flight from my van window, with camera and lens hand-held.

BLUE-HEADED VIREO

Blue-headed Vireo

7″ x 10.5″       10″ x 15″

The Blue-headed Vireo is also known as the “solitary vireo”.  During migration, it rarely flocks with members of its own species hence the name. This individual was part of a small flock of warblers and kinglets migrating south in September.

Boreal Owl in snow

Boreal Owl in Snow

7″ x 10.5″       10″ x 15″

After finding and photographing this owl day hunting from a tree, I went to visit my friends, who owned the property it was hunting.  I returned fifteen minutes later to find it in the snow.  Shortly after this photo it flew away with a vole in its talons.

MALE HOODED MERGANSER WITH CRAYFISH

Male Hooded Merganser with Crayfish

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

When the creeks that flow to the northern shoreline of Lake Huron begin to thaw (usually in early April), Hooded Mergansers are usually the first ducks to take advantage of the open water to dive for food. When this male came up with a crayfish, I then knew why he had spent so much time in front of me and had easily become accustomed to my unthreatening presence in a partial blind.

Male Northern Harrier with prey

Male Northern Harrier with Prey

11″ x 14″

To feed developing nestlings, Northern Harriers will hunt and capture a wide variety of creatures in and around their marsh habitat, such as nestlings of other birds, and voles, rats, squirrels, snakes, etc.  This male has a Virginia Rail nestling in its claw. The male Northern Harrier is nicknamed the “grey ghost” because of its impressive silvery grey appearance and shadowy aura, and its fast flight to escape when seen by humans. In the past, it was one of most popular hawks to be recreationally shot each year during migration, anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000, along the Kittatinny Ridge in Pennsylvania until the early 1930’s.  They have been protected for decades but the shooting did not entirely stop for many years, and their memory of the massacre seems to be genetically imprinted.

Blue Grey Gnatcatcher in redbud flowers

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher in Redbud Flowers

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

In mid to late April some forests of Ohio are sprinkled with the brilliant color of flowering Eastern Redbud trees.  Hazy early morning sun warmed up this tree so the flower’s nectar began to flow.  That attracted many small insects on the cold morning, and the concentration of insects attracted a few small birds.  This bird fed out in the open, and moved much slower than normal, probably because of the cold temperature.

 Male Magnolia Warbler in spruce

Male Magnolia Warbler in Spruce

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

Male Magnolia Warblers in breeding plumage are one of the most colorful and patterned birds in Eastern North America.  The EUP is a great area to view this beautiful bird in late May and early June because of its abundance of State and National forest with appropriate habitat for this species.

LAKE HURON FLUFF ON ICE SUNRIZE

Lake Huron Fluff on Ice Sunrise

8″ x 10″          12″ x 16″

Late winter on the northern shore of Lake Huron can offer some interesting sunrise and sunset scenes. It had become very cold (-20 F) the night before this photograph was taken, following a warmer stretch of weather. The water had frozen, and balls of hoarfrost formed and rolled across the ice. They came to a stop as the wind calmed, and this sunrise scene was made possible.

Male American Kestrel back view

Male American Kestrel Back View

11″ x 14″

Whitefish Point, in Michigan’s EUP, can be an excellent place to view raptors as they migrate north to Canada.  A day in April with strong south winds and relatively warm temperatures can bring thousands of raptors to the tip of the point, and many of them will be about 8-20 feet off of the ground in such conditions.  Near the tip the birds fly between or just above the pine trees until they reach open beach, where the wind is even stronger.  Kestrels may rest on a perch for a while.  I took this photo shortly after this bird flew from its perch and headed for Canada.

Male Nashville Warbler in Spring Color

Male Nashville Warbler in “Spring Color”

8″ x 10″         11″ x 14″

In some dry forests of the EUP the understory is very colorful in mid-May, when the maple saplings begin to leaf out.  On a windless morning near the end of a two week stretch of dry weather I set up a water drip to attract this bird with the sound of the dripping water.

Wood Ducks on fall pond

Wood Ducks on Fall Pond

10″ x 15″

The reflection of the golden leaves on trees along the far shore of this pond provided a unique background for migrating Wood Ducks during October.

Male Long-tailed Duck in icy water

Male Long-tailed Duck in Icy Water

12″ x 16″ or larger

Large groups of this arctic breeding species spend the winter on the Great Lakes.  The waters between the DeTour Village ferry dock and Drummond Island ferry dock (of Michigan) can hold over a thousand Long-tailed’s during winter, and into spring.  Usually the St. Mary’s river ice breaks up in early April and flows through this area into Lake Huron.  This individual was part of a group that flew and landed close to the Drummond Island ferry dock – a good morning location to view them because the sun is at your back.  The large ice flows on this early April day forced the birds to move often.  They would often dive under the ice and pop up a surprising distance away from their dive point.  This individual popped up right in front of me.

NATURAL BIRD FEEDER

Natural Bird Feeder

8″ x 10″          12″ x 16″

In an early winter of a year when cone crops in Michigan were excellent, White-winged Crossbills and Common Redpolls were abundant in the EUP.  While walking down a snowy back road, I saw a small flock of birds rise up and fly away from a little frozen creek at roadside.  They returned after I passed, so I investigated.  I found that a flock of White-winged Crossbills and Common Redpolls were using their bills to scrape the ice, removing small seeds embedded in it. It seemed that wind had blown the seeds from the surrounding forest into the creek, and as they floated, currents had concentrated them at this particular spot as the creek froze.  Notice the Common Redpoll with its head under the tail of the male White-winged Crossbill.

Brewster's Warbler

Brewster’s Warbler

7″ x 10.5″         10″ x 15″

This bird is the more common hybrid of the Blue-winged/Golden-winged warbler hybrid complex, but all hybrid birds are somewhat rare.  My wife photographed this striking individual in the Jordan River Valley of Michigan, a beautiful place to view a good variety of warblers, including many Golden-winged Warblers and a few Blue-winged Warblers.

Barred Owl rising downsized

Barred Owl Rising

12″ x 16″ or larger

This owl was hunting out in the open on an extremely cold February morning.  The reflection of sun off of snow on the ground lit its underside as it was rising to land.

Winter Wren in fall cedar downsized

Winter Wren in Fall Cedar

8″ x 10″

In late September some of the Eastern White Cedar’s older shoots, closer to the main stem, naturally change color, turning orange, then rusty brown.  They eventually fall off.  While orange they add an element of composition to the more subdued colored songbirds of fall, such as this Winter Wren.  This individual was likely part of the family that has nested successfully very close to my garage for years.  It responded to my mouthed pishing call, which is similar to the alarm or scolding calls of other birds. It would soon go south for the winter.