Pas de Deux

A pair of swans caught my eye.

No biggie, I thought. Mute swans are a common sight on Lake Allegan. But these two birds’ unusual movements made me look twice.

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

Ee-Oh-Lay!

Haunting. Flute-like. Ethereal.

These are words commonly used to describe the song of a Wood Thrush. They’re all accurate.

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

A Wood Thrush Story

Nooooooo!

That was me, early on the morning of June 13.

I’d been watching and filming a Wood Thrush nest, expecting nestlings to fledge at any time. This morning, I set up my video gear at the first light. I positioned my tripod and zoomed in on the nest… almost ready to record… then, crash! I knocked over my big stainless steel coffee cup, which landed on a flagstone. The startled nestlings squawked and leaped in unison.

My eyes witnessed the fledge. My camera did not.

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

Duck Drama

Wood ducks seemed to be studying our squirrel tree.

We call it that because squirrels like to shelter inside. And each spring, at least one new family grows up there. One year, a pregnant raccoon took over the entire tree. But otherwise, for some twenty years, we have watched squirrel mamas, and eventually their pups, scurry in and out of the largely hollow tree.

But last week, I wondered if wood ducks might be moving in.

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A Red-breasted Ballet… For Now

It’s almost time for the annual duck dance.

The Red-breasted Mergansers put on quite a springtime show. They scoot. They splash. The handsome boys bow to impress the ladies. I never tire of watching their annual courtship display.

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

So Much for Sharing

Dark, dreary, frigid, and snowy

That’s our weather of late. But sitting in my snug office, just steps from soup, sourdough, coffee, and more… I’ve no reason to complain. The weather may be harsh, but I’m not suffering.

Can the same be said of the wildlife I watch through my window?

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

From Shallows to Swamp?

A bird stares intently, seemingly focused on an errant feather stuck to his beak.

But that’s not what this juvenile Bald Eagle is watching. Perched on the high bluff behind our Lake Allegan home, the raptor has a sweeping view of the water below. That view includes Eagle Island.

You can probably guess how that island got its name.

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

A Cowbird Cases the Joint

I first noticed the cowbird’s stake-out on May 17, 2022.

The snoop at my sliding-glass door made no attempt to conceal herself as she stared. I wondered: Was she looking through the glass or at it?

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

When the Poo Piles Up

Globs of disgusting doo dotted our gate.

The poo’s origin was no mystery. Robins had nested overhead, on our pergola. But still, I wondered why I was seeing so much of the sticky stuff. Robins, like many bird parents, remove their nestlings’ excrement after each feeding. It comes out wrapped in a fecal sac—a convenient package that parents swallow during the first week and then carry away from the nest as fecal quantities grow. In addition to helping keep the young ones healthy, nest sanitation minimizes any scent trail that might lead predators to the nest. And yet, just a few feet directly below the nestlings lay a stinking pile of poop.

Was I looking at the dereliction of parental doo-ty?

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.

What’s in a Fake-News Bird Name?

Jay! Jay!

I hear that cry and know instantly which bird just flew nearby. The Blue Jay’s squawk and its brilliant blue feathers mirror its name, making it easy to find and remember the bird.

That’s not often true of the fake-news name given to the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

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Image Credits: Carol Doeringer.