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As I was driving on a very cold winter morning, this little owl (about 9-10″ tall) flew across my windshield into a tree in a friend’s field, here in Chippewa County. Normally nocturnal, it was day hunting – a rare occurrence. I approached it slowly through almost waist-high snow. It showed absolutely no fear. I then left it, just as slowly, to continue its hunting. The Boreal owl is a rare winter visitor to the Great Lakes states.
The stump the ermine is leaving is below our second-story deck, where we feed the birds. Voles gather the seeds that drop to the ground and store them in the middle of the hollow stump. One day, as I heard the ermine whirling around in the stump, it poked out with a vole in its mouth, then proceeded to run to the undercarriage of my van to store its meal for later. I got my camera and waited for it to return to the stump – luckily it did. He looked at me as if to say, “Where is the next vole?”
Male Black-backed Woodpecker
In 2012, there was a forest fire of over 20,000 acres in the EUP; the Duck Lake Burn. The following year, Black-backed Woodpeckers nested in large numbers. They pry chips of bark off of the scorched conifer trees in search of beetle larva, which infest the trees after a fire. This tree was solid black but this bird (and likely others) had removed a lot of the charred bark.
Pied-billed Grebe Marsh Reflection
When the ice melts in the marshes of the EUP (usually in April), Pied-billed Grebes arrive from the south and can be very visible during the beginning of the nesting season. The males will often patrol the open waters on the edges of the marsh.
Male Northern Parula
In mid-May on a very cold morning, this small bird (4.5″ tail tip to beak tip) foraged very deliberately for insects in this spruce that was in the early stages of cone development.
Goldeneyes at Sunrise
Some Goldeneye Ducks will winter along the northern shoreline of Lake Huron. Most of Lake Huron was frozen during the winter when this photograph was taken, so these ducks had to relocate often to find open water.
Rough-legged Hawk Hunt Flight
This arctic tundra breeding species of hawk goes south for the winter, and often many individuals stop to spend a good portion of November hunting the fields of the EUP. If voles are abundant some will stay the entire winter. This bird was hunting the open fields just off a back road, with the bare trees faintly visible in the far background.
Male Hooded merganser with Crayfish
When the creeks that flow to the northern shoreline of Lake Huron begin to thaw (usually in early April), Hooded Mergansers are usually the first ducks to take advantage of the open water to dive for food. When this male came up with a crayfish, I then knew why he had spent so much time in front of me and had easily become accustomed to my unthreatening presence in a partial blind.
Book Copy Editor: Bonnie Stewart Mickelson