2013 and beyond

It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.

2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Eastern-Wood Phoebe

Hey guys - I got a very nice surprise in the form of an Eastern-Wood Phoebe singing down the street this morning.  I can't believe it's back nesting under an eave after spending the winter in Ecuador!  I heard it (after carefully eliminating the similar sounding Alder Flycatcher) and told myself I need to go out tonight in some scrub-shrub habitat and listen for the twittering wingbeats of peenting Common Nighthawks soon!
March is the new May, why not!?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chase Place in the race

Tired and lazy and overwhelmed with project but I'm still trying to be a yard bird fiend... the Chase Place added 20 species during the last week or so - nothing crazy but a nice mix of stuff. The Swamp Lair is also trying to hold its own but I have not been motivated to work the marsh as in past years and I kinda like hang low with my fellow Yoopers...

Chase Place = 47
Swamp Lair = 38.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

End of days continue in the North Woods

So my predawn year-yard tick came in the form of a singing Winter Wren from the back of the Haas Tract. This is not a regular visitor to the Hill, I think its been a few years since I've had one here, a fact some of you might think is unusual, till I saw no one else even has this bird yet this year and I'm the most northerly participant of this little Fete we run here. 

So what is really amazing is, that I'm reporting this bird on March 25 from Marquette. Had not a couple other local birders had a WIWR early last week from the local lake-side park, my little brush-troglodyte would be the earliest MQT County record by several days, with only one previous March record in the last 8 years (ie, the duration Ive been keeping a FOS arrival database...).

Having just returned from a bird conservation conference, I may be laying it on a bit thick here, but I'm depressed with all that has happened to bird populations and all the work we have yet to do, and as wonderful as the sound of a singing Winter Wren is, I just can't help but feel the sadness that there are changes afoot that could of been avoided had we just had some foresight in regards to climate change.

oh yeah, that's right we did. That intell has just been ignored or discredited for the last 20+ years....

Ok- Im off the soapbox... lets get back to making fun of Caleb!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm gaining on you, Skye

Three new birds this morning: B. Creeper, Fox Sparrow, N. Cardinal.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Eastern Phoebe

Had an Eastern Phoebe in my yard today. 21 March. 82 degrees. Just under a mile from Lake Superior. Not a trace of snow left on our property. End-of-times bizarre up here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crossbill & Creeper

Sorry Putty,

you don't get to claim winter finches over Yoopers for too long. Had a calling Red Crossbill go over the Haas Hill yesterday. Been getting them north of town too when I hawk watch.

Woke up to a Creeper singing away the other morning. I can't remember if it was last year or the year before I missed this spp in the yard.

I gots you in my eye Fitzy....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oooh! I can play at spring migration too....

The gap is closing Putty....

Robin, Bald Eagle, BH Cowbird, Ring-billed Gull, Song Sparrow..... ugh

I'm already boring myself...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Three new year birds for the yard today

A. Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, and Purple Finch. Yipee!

Weird day: it was 82 degrees as I was watching about 150 C. Redpolls devour my niger thistle. Not often that you get to watch redpolls from your living room with your windows open. 150 redpolls make a lotta noise.

Caleb, Jr.?

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Fitz had a little Caleb at the end of Feb.- not sure how that slipped through the cracks but didnt want the event to go unnoticed here. Congrats Fitzs, you may have the only a legitimate excuse of why you are showing so poorly against another dude named Caleb (though I expect a good showing from you for nocturnal stuff this year). All the best to you and the family Fitz and thanks for keeping this in perspective for us. Some people take this yard birding way to serious. How silly.

Happy St. Paddy's day too... i'm looking for a green tow-hee

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012


This is possibly my best yardbird of 2012, behind NSWO I think, esp. given the 'salvage' aspect of the story. Wow:
Just to clarify, this photo was taken from down on the shoreline. I found her while scanning the RNDUs from my vantage on my property but was unable to get a good photo b/c she went behind the trees to the SE corner of Amazie. Later in the day she returned to where I could more easily see her from my vantage, with 1 LESC and the 20something RNDUs:

And after working hard on these guys as flybys during the rain, it was nice to get a couple on the water

Quick note: my life yarbird lists were 2 behind all this time since I forgot to include Mute Swan and Tree Swallow, hence this is 111 not 109

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

another mystery sound

Any ideas? Recorded just before 11PM, March 14.

On a sidenote: I did score one very good bird today: MERL (81/108). Not easy for my yard and for some reason not hanging out on Whitefish Lake like I thought one might. Also added EAPH (82) which sang briefly but then left.

wowsers! I got a new year bird for the yard....

I saw a Robin.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

moving along

Side note: yesterday's 2 swallow sp. actually were a tick (77), though I forgot to count them until now.

Started today with EAME (78/106) singing in the field across the street. Then was surprised by this puppy on Amazie; didn't expect it on my 'small' water (79/107)
Raptor migration is also moving along nicely, and should continue to all day today.These guys didnt' completely match the weather (80)And this guy was supposed to flush the Aythya yesterday to help me get that blasted CANV!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gratuitous name drop

Howdy boys,

Been in S. Texas for the past week, where we saw--amongst much else--Brown Jay:


But back to my yard: had my first Sharpie of the season in my yard just before I left town last Sunday (earlyish up here). And a very nice Hoary has been hanging around at the my feeders since my return from Texas. I'll try to post a photo soon.

Whitefish and Amazie are OPEN for business

As hoped, the rain and fog this morning really brought down the waterfowl. A light start to my morning including these (70/99):

and these (71/100)

and SEFI- are these 3 pics enough to ID these birds, or do you need more pics? I could add a few dozen more?!?

PS- made a run to Whitefish to get a better feel for what's actually out there: check this out:
Came back and added BUFF (72, 101) COGO (73, 102), and REDH (74, 103). Still need to get CANV, AMCO, HOGR, GRSC sometime today before the rain clears and the mega waterfowl flock leaves... More soon.

PSS- video of the madness on Whitefish lake .
Actual totals of this megaflock on Whitefish Lake were: 87 CANV (!), 44 AMWI, 70ish LESC, 370 RNDU, 40ish REDH, 5 NSHO (much-needed life yardbird) and a smattering of other species. But I cannot see the CANV, GRSC, AMCO, HOGR, or NSHO from my yard yet. Need the BAEA to flush them up while Iam looking!

PSSS- despite much effort, I never got CANV, GRSC, AMCO, or HOGR from my yard today. When I went back to the lake for a 3rd visit, all of the 600+ waterfowl were GONE (!), exc. a handful of scaup, and I could see the entire lake- they left the area as soon as the fog and rain lifted, sometime around noon or 1PM.

Happily, though, the rain, gray clouds, and wind returned around 4PM, so I made a point to stand outside in the rain and watch for flying ducks. Sure as can be, a flock of 11 dabblers appeared distantly on the south horizon headed west, and half had obvious pale upperwing patches. AMWI, I thought? They got closer and revealed their true ID: NSHO (75/104). As a parting gift, I was lullabied back into the house at dusk by these beauts:

76/105 :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Heron sp.? strange CANG? something else?

First of all, even if we reach an ID, this is non-countable, so this is mainly of academic interest. But what the heck is this thing that just flew over my mic 5 minutes ago as I listened through the feed?


most of the time when I visit another yardbirdblogger's yard (SEFI, JOKA, CUDY), my scanning typically results in at least a year yarbird or two for my vaunted opponent. Last spring I got SEFI his life yardbird OSPR, in fact. I scored JOKA at least a couple yearbirds 2 summers ago during my visit to the Kitty's Lair.

This weekend's visit to SEFI V2 was fairly mundane, however. BHCO and WTSP was about the best we could manage.

Back to mad action in Puttville- looking like rain as I wake up. Hoping for a waterfowl fallout so I can clean up that AMWI and NSHO before they're off for the north! Wouldn't mind nailing AMCO and PBGR soon either. Or a white goose (there are plenty around mid MI right now).


Friday, March 9, 2012

Snowy Owls et al.

Not 1 but 2 SNOWs from the lair this evening. That's 32 for the year. 31 was 3 black ducks, 30 was 2 hoodies. I'm up to 25 red-winged bbs. Yesterday, # 29 was a cowbird. I like numbers.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Quit poking the bear

Ah, the bear is finally waking up with a couple of Red-winged Blackbirds (#28) arriving at the Swamp Lair this morning, kicking off the spring season. Enjoy that lead while you can putz, cause hibernation is over in the north country and the bear is cranky due to your incessant showboating -- it's dis'gustin.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Whoa nelly

What is it with the HTML on this site?!?! (I cannot get it formatted correctly and I am trying hard). Anyway:

Here is what I woke up to (1 of at least 8-10 such flocks):
The first skein of which contained 1 Cackling Goose (58/89) (no pics)

Then the deluge began:

then had 6 flyby LESC (pics overexposed, 63/94), 1 flyby female HOME (no pics, 64/95), SOSP (65), and my first BHCO (66/96). Finally, 2 flyby LALOs were 67/97.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The joy of spring

I made great use of a conference call this morning and did a 50 minute stationary count from the yard as the 23 mph winds from the south jump started things in eastern Kane County.
I scored a few overdue yardbirds (COHA, ROPI), but also snagged a very nice addition in the form of a spanking Red-shouldered Hawk that drifted its way north just west of my yard.  The best part was that the RSHA also was a Kane County bird for me (#201)!
Here's the 22 species I managed in 50 minutes (5 yardbirds bolded):

Kickapoo Ave and vicinity (Kane Co.), Kane, US-IL
Mar 6, 2012 10:10 AM - 11:00 AM
Protocol: Stationary
22 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  24
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser americanus)  2
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Eastern) (Buteo jamaicensis borealis)  1
Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)  4
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  3
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  2
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis/carolinensis)  1
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  5
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  1
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  1
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)  4
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)  6
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  6

Monday, March 5, 2012

One Hundred & friggin' Ninety!

The roof is a valuable resource for me. This evening it afforded me an excellent view of a yard lifer, a 1st cycle GBBG (40/190), as it flew towards me and then floated off to the west in the direction of Lake MI. Amongst a few HERG the lumbering, larger, black-schnozed, b & w checker-backed bird stood out like a sore thumb. I figured this bird was coming due, so it doesn't surprise me, but it sure feels good to now be able to set my sites on 200!

like taking candy from a ...

Hundreds of scans later, it finally happens


It's been a little slow for new arrivals given this cold spell. So I thought I'd do the next best thing and show you all what posers you really are.

Recorded this a minute ago, with my rooftop mic. When I hear these high-pitched sustained alarms it is usually an indication of a raptor visible somewhere. But this particular bird maintained this call for 30-40 seconds. It was doing a submissive/solicitation display, complete with wing fluttering and crouched posture, and none of the local birds were at all concerned about a predator and freely flew to and from the feeder.

Anyone know what species this is? Would you recognize this without looking if you heard it but couldn't see the source?

Friday, March 2, 2012


Pre-dawn a single Timberdoodle (38) was heard displaying to the west on the old golf course property. This is the earliest I have had this species in Allegan Co. by 8 days. Also had numerous fly-over COGR (39) interspersed with large flocks of RWBL.

Few things better

than spring migration. HUGE push of geese and blackbirds over the yard this morning. So far I've also added WODU just now (53, 86). Beautiful thing when stuff like WODU is still a life yardbird! 2 COGR mixed in with a RWBL flock made 54, then four SNBU flying east on the south horizon 55.

Will anyone catch me before August?

KILL me now...

...this is apparently what my yard-birding life has boiled down to: pre-midnight rounds of wheeling trash to the curb.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

KILLing it

#52. NOPI can't be long in coming to my open water...

And oh yeah, no more trashtalk, just the goods:
This just minutes after seeing a small raptor (what I thought was a MERL/AMKE) glide in escape to the east without my being able to ID it). Thanks to the BCCH which always seem to give me a clue when a raptor is visible.