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A Year of Birds: March

Geese flying over Lake Huron, Michgian

It is March, and the weather is finally starting to warm up a bit – it even goes into the mid-40’s on a sunny day! The snow is starting to melt, and the landscape is slowly turning from white to brown. Locals are used to the “spring slush” in which back roads turn into muddy, rutted trails. I have dubbed my car “mud puppy” because regardless of how often I take it to the car wash, it only takes one trip past Misery Bay to turn my car from silver to brown.

Mallards in a marsh
Mallards on the waters in March

But the thaw is worth it. I am excited, because this warming weather means the migratory birds will be coming back soon. I have missed the egrets, herons, cedar waxwings, robins and other birds, and will welcome their coming back as a sign of spring. Overhead, the clarion calls of Canadian Geese can be heard as they fly overhead on their way north.

Swans flying in early spring over Lake Huron
Swans flying over Lake Huron

Out on Lake Huron, the swans can be seen flying over the now unfrozen waters of the bays. The mallards and other ducks can also be seen on the lake, pairing up. Later in the month, I can see Golden Eyes on the lake near the shore, throwing their heads back in an amazing courtship display. When I take walks on the beach, I have noticed one group of seven that hangs out in the bay. Three are pairs of male and females, while one lone male hangs out on the perimeter of their group as they swim by. I feel sorry for him, and hope that he has better luck next year. I have also seen mallards in the swamps near Squaw Bay, and they make a beautiful sight surrounded by the still-brown reeds and marsh grasses.

Cardinal at a feeder
This cardinal is a bit shy

Late in the month, I visit a friend and his wife, who live in a more southern state. It seems as if spring has come several weeks earlier here, and I am fascinated by how tame the birds that come to their feeder are. I am able to get some nice close-up shots of cardinals, titmice, finches, doves and other birds, and enjoy the preview of spring I am getting here. When I drive back north, it is like going through a “time reversal” as instead of the soft greens of the south, in north Michigan the trees are still bare (but with swollen buds!) and the landscape is still mainly brown. But the days are getting longer and warmer, and I know that soon the landscape here will be cloaked in green as well.

Titmouse at a feeder
Spring comes earlier in the south than in Michigan – and the titmouse love to visit this feeder

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