18 November 2005

Friday Bird Blog

Western Hummingbirds
A plate from A Field Guide to Western Birds.
Illustrations by
Roger Tory Peterson

On Thursdays when I remember to do it I call the Michigan Statewide Bird Report hotline to see what unusual sightings people have called in during the past week. Yesterday’s report had the following:

In Livingston County, an immature Rufous Hummingbird has been hanging out at a home birdfeeder in the town of Brighton. At least he still was there on November 16. Birders are welcome to park sensibly and go around to the back yard where the feeder is. (Does this sound like A Prairie Home Companion?)

The Rufous Hummingbird is a native of the western United States, but there are occasional, but still rare, sightings in the Midwest. As a rule of thumb all hummingbird feeders should be taken down in late August or early September in places where the winter means business. Several years ago in Wisconsin, a Rufous Hummingbird was taken captive by the Milwaukee Mitchell Park Conservatory (a wonderful place), because he/she was still lapping up the sugar water in November.
Roufus Hummingbirds
Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Next, in Wayne County Cave Swallows were seen at the Lake Erie State Game Area Pointe Mouillee and they crossed over into Monroe County, too. Apparently the Monroe County trolls are hibernating already, as there is no report of fines for trespassing. Michigan is broke, so don’t think for a minute that I’m kidding. Michigan and Ohio went to war over the Toledo line, which was part of Monroe, in the 1830s. Ohio got Toledo. Michigan got the Upper Peninsula, pasties, bears and copper. Monroe is still pissed off. But they should be glad to have some big-hearted Texas swallows visiting. This might be an effect of the hurricanes.

There was a Ross’ Goose in Muskegon County from November 8-13.

And in Allegan County at the Todd Farm, an immature Golden Eagle was present on November 12. The Todd Farm in days gone by was a major oasis, a pit stop for migrating Canada Geese. But they don’t migrate any more, I guess. Every year we’d make the trek to Fennville, Michigan to gaze at probably 100,000 geese, stop at the cider mill, buy apples for the Thanksgiving apple pies – which my father baked – he was an excellent cook – and probably we’d have taken sandwiches along and a Thermos of coffee.

Finally a Great Gray Owl was present at the Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Newberry in the UP. The Tahquamenon Falls are spectacular by the way. I’ve not been there in the gloom of November, but I like rugged weather. Just not in May.

Immature Golden Eagle.

11 November 2005

Friday Bird Blog

Whistling Swan
Cygnus columbianus

Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes

From November 15, 1959

"DECATUR - Decatur residents living on the Lake of the Woods were delighted Sunday by the frolicking of five wild whistling swans. [The use of the word 'wild' would have made my mother wild, as whistling swans are ever "wild", never domestic. But at least the local paper had reported the sighting.]

Mrs. Darl Sink, who first spotted the swans said this is the third year she has known them to pause here on their migratory flight south. [Their winter headquarters is along both coasts as far south as Florida and southern California, but more generally around Chesapeake Bay and Currituck Sound (NC).]

She said they spent all day Sunday gamboling about and feeding in the lagoon at the east end of the lake.

Mrs. Sink identified them as whistling swans after consulting the Audubon bird book."

Sighting the whiltling swan in the interior would have been somewhat unusual, although the Great Lakes can throw even experienced birds off, I suppose.

10 November 2005

Timely Hopkins Poetry

Spring and Fall

to a Young Child

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins~

This is copied from bartleby.com, so I could get the stresses right with little effort on my part.

Our goldengroves still hold about half of their leaves. It is the latest by far I remember the trees holding their color. Usually Veteran's Day offers a bleak landscape.

When I was young I loved this poem. The worlds of wanwood leafmeal are upon us, don't you think?