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A Year of Birds: October

Now the days are getting cooler at night, and shorter. In the early morning, fog can be seen over Lake Huron in a thick white blanket that rolls towards the shore. I know that the shorter days and tree color changes herald the fall migration of the birds to warmer climates.

I can still see an occasional blue heron in the marsh, and egrets as well. I am enjoying every sighting, knowing that within a few weeks, they will be gone. The redwing blackbirds and sandpipers have already left on the journey south. Now is the time of year when the “year round” inhabitants come into their own.

Blue heron in the marsh near Lake Huron
This is one of the last Blue Herons left as the days get colder

The other day, I went hiking near Presque Isle with some friends, and spotted a yellow-rumped warbler. These are cute little birds, and I see them perching on the edge of woods and fields

Chickadees can be seen perching in trees, and even hanging upside down.

Upside down chickadee in a pine tree
Chickadees can be seen hanging upside down at times

The juncos visit the pines in the yard, and will gladly forage for seed scattered on the ground.

Junco in the grass
Hey are you looking at me?

One of my favorite sights is a bald eagle that often visits a tree on the point, sitting there to search for fish. The eagles will stay through the winter, and soar high above the shore in their search for food. 

Bald eagle in a tree
This tree is on the point in the bay, and has already lost its leaves

Another beautiful sight is when the Canadian Geese, which are gathering into large flocks, fly up into the air, then touch back down on the water. They are still practicing for the big flight south and will be gone soon.

Canadian Geese landing on the water on Lake Huron in north Michigan
Practice, practice, practice as the days get shorter and colder

The merganser babies are grown, and can still be seen in the mornings hunting for food by the beach behind the house. I love to see them, and hope that they choose to hang around this winter.

The other day, on the drive home by the bay, I saw a pair of yellowlegs. These lovely birds are migrating south, and stopped by the marsh to feed and rest.

Yellow leg in the marsh
It takes lots of food to fuel migration, and this yellow leg is filling up in the marsh

I also saw some swans on Lake Michigan when driving near Petoskey. They were gathered on the water, and are beautiful.

Swans on the lake
They are beautiful birds, and look like floating “boats” on the water

Finally, the final week of October, the herons have left. I have not seen any for a few days, and the marshes are quiet and still in the chill air. I will miss them, and the egrets, but I know that they are enjoying warmer weather – and good fishing – further south.

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