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Birds to see at year’s end

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

Seeing a Northern Shrike during the Christmas Bird Count would be a great find. Photo from Wikipedia.

Join with others to see birds you might not have seen during the 2019 year. Participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 28, 2019 to help add to 64 years of data collection. We meet at 7:30 a.m. at the Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Center (WWC), 11715 Vergennes Rd. in Lowell, Michigan 49331. 

This year’s data will be our 65th year for tabulating data. Be a part of the legacy for documenting species and numbers that could not happen without teams of observers. Our predecessors would be proud of our continued efforts. This is a great opportunity to engage families in the longest citizen science data collection in history. We team observers with experienced “birders’ for fun observing many species and collecting valuable data. It is a wonderful outdoor experience in Michigan’s Winter-Water-Wonderland. 

Expect to see a variety of winter ducks such as Wood Ducks, American Black Duck, Redhead, and Common Goldeneye among others. Fish eating Common Mergansers are seen as are Pied-billed Grebes. 

People often think Great Blue Herons are gone in winter but some usually continue feeding in small streams throughout the area.

Seeing raptors is common. Depending on weather conditions, Rough-legged Hawks might have come from the far north to set up winter residence. Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks are usually present. 

It is a great find when Northern Shrikes are discovered in open country where they feed on small birds. The Shrikes are robin sized and capture birds that they frequently impale on hawthorns. They return to feed on the stored food. This might be a “lifer.” That means it is a species you have never seen previously. 

The attractive Carolina Wrens, with a broad eye stripe, have expanded their range into our area where they are now regularly seen. 

If we are fortunate, Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins, and Evening Grosbeaks might be present. A variety of sparrows including the American Tree Sparrow makes its winter appearance while the similar Chipping Sparrow has left for a warmer climate.

Joan Heuvelhorst will provide a hot lunch for $5.00 or you can brown bag your own. Be sure to thank her for her support. We will be in the field by 8 a.m. Participant involvement varies from morning to all day. All are welcome to participate at their comfort level. 

Direct inquiries to count coordinators:

Tom Leggett: (616) 249-3382 E-mail tomleggett@hotmail.com or

Ranger Steve (Mueller) odybrook@chartermi.net 616-696-1753.

See the Grand Rapids Audubon Club website for maps and our newsletter for Christmas Count details. www.GRAC.org. 

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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