From our walks around Detroit, this is our blog of animals, insects, trees, plants and other things from nature that we see. Most of the photos are ones that S.or I have taken in our neighborhood or during our travels in the city.
We've seen Double-crested Cormorants before on the Detroit River, but this time there was a cluster of them spreading their wings while resting on stumps in a lagoon. Pelicans, turkey vultures, and some other birds will also spread their wings like this while standing. Scientists believe that the birds do it to help dry their feathers.
I think this is an Eastern Phoebe. We watched while it flitted between a row of trees. The bird looked almost a shade yellow, but we think that was the light from the sun as it was going down. A phoebe was the first bird in the United States that was banded to track its migrations. In 1804, John James Audubon tied a silver thread around one's leg to record when the bird come back the following year.
During the summer, rock doves built a scruffy nest outside a window of my father's office in the Cass Corridor. I finally got to see the babies after they had grown a bit. Pigeons don't keep a very clean living area, but the baby birds were cute. Their skin looked dark blue. Baby pigeons are called squabs.
The black feathers on a Red-winged Blackbird seem soooo black and the red on the wing soooo red. The females too are colorful in a different way - with yellow and brown stripes on their head and dark brown and white speckles on their body (we need a better picture). We've run into some aggressive ones on Belle Isle. They can weave some pretty amazing nests among the cattails.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is related to many birds, including the Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle and the Baltimore Oriole. The Brown-headed Cowbird breeds mostly in northern states and parts of southern Canada. The bird lives year round in pretty much all states. I do not get why it is called a cow bird - it doesn’t look very cowish to me. I get the brown head part though.
These Killdeer have come back and laid their speckled eggs in a nearby community garden during the last two summers. The eggs looked almost like gravel. I stayed on the sidewalk and we used a zoom lens because we did not want to disturb them. The mother watched us pretty closely. Killdeer lay their eggs on the ground and then add material to the nest.
The American Goldfinch undergoes a molt in the spring and autumn. It is the only finch to undergo a molt twice a year. The markings on their feathers remain through each molt, with bars on the wings and white under and at the edges of the short, V-shaped tail. I think the gold finches are cute little birds and wonder what they would be like to have as a pet.
The Northern Goshawk is the largest North American goshawks and sparrowhawks. It generally lives in dense woods, taking prey as small as squirrels and as large as rabbits. Cool fact to now is that Attila the Hun actually wore a picture of a Northern Goshawk on his helmet. I did not see this bird, but my dad saw it on Mack Ave. when it was being snipped at by several crows and he snapped a couple fuzzy pictures before it flew away. You can find out more about these birds here.
There’s the black eye stripe, the white crown and the yellow near the eyes, the white throat bordered by a black whisker - also known as a malar stripe. The tune of the white-throated sparrow’s whistle is Oh Sweet Canada. These birds breed mostly in Canada, but in the winter they can be seen in parts of eastern and southern North America. I particularly like this bird because of its colors and I also think it’s very cute. More info. on these little birds can be found here.
The first words that come to my mind when I see the common golden eye are: quack, dark colored, and James Bond.
The common golden eye is a duck you dont see too often - we have seen them twice at Belle Ilse. If you don't know why they are called the common golden eye, it's because they have a golden eye. If you ever see this duck and you know it's a common golden eye, but you cant tell if it's is male or female, first look at the eye. The male has a gold eye and the female has whiteish to almost yellow. Second, look at the face. The male has a black head with a white oval and the female's head is brown. During winter, they are found in most of the US. In summmer, they are mostly found in Canada. Check Cornell University's AllAboutBirds site for more information.
Ducks. More ducks on Belle Isle. We saw these two times. The second time, it was COLD and there were hundreds that looked like they were sleeping on the water or ice. Canvasbacks breed in potholes in fields. More info. on Canvasback ducks can be found here.
Third one that we've seen in the city - all without a camera in-hand. This one pounced a squirrel in Clark Park before carrying it off. We took this photo quickly with the cell phone and ... well ... with this sad result.
We saw this immature Wood Duck at the Isle of Belle. From where I was standing, its bill looked flat - not in the shape of a typical duck's. My Dad and I couldn't really tell what type of duck it was, but after some research at home, we are pretty sure it is a young Wood Duck.
These egrets were really white and easy to spot against the color of the trees. We saw them on Belle Isle and there must have at least five of them. They were all on the islands in the middle of the ponds. One sat low in a tree and, at first, I thought it was a swan. Then I said to myself - swans don’t sit in trees. My Dad and I thought they were some kind of heron, but then he looked it up and found out they were Great Egrets. I find it amazing how white they are.
In the Americas, the white form of the Great Blue Heron is larger than these egrets. The Great Egret used to be called the American Egret but that was not appropriate, since its range extends well beyond the American continents and farther than other herons.
We heard this Belted Kingfisher before we saw it. It was in a big weeping willow tree right next to us before it flew over to these branches. S. and I were startled by its call. S. thought is sounded like loud camera clicks. For more info. on this fishing bird, see here.
S. only caught a glimpse of this Northern Flicker, which was well-camouflaged in a tree at the back of an empty lot in Delray. S. tells us that these birds like open habitats near trees - like the lot where we saw this one. Their call is a sustained ki, ki, ki that can sound like a person laughing. For more info. on the flicka, see here.
S. spotted these birds in a tree while we were looking at tadpoles swimming in a roadside puddle within Rouge Park just before it started raining. S. thought the birds looked skinny and notes that Eastern Kingbirds are within a group of large insect-eating birds in the flycatcher family Tyrannidae. Kingbirds prefer open areas and will wait on an exposed perch to catch insects in flight. More info. on the Eastern Kingbird can be found here.