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A Year of Birds 2022: April

Golden Eyes are beautiful birds, and can be seen on Lake Huron in early April

April is starting out very cold, after the warm weekend at the end of March. The chickadees and cardinals still visit the feeder, but once the snow melts from the ground I will stop. I don’t want any bears visiting!

On the weekend, I go out to Misery Bay, and the canals nearby. I saw goldeneye ducks swimming. These beautifully marked ducks have incredible yellow gold colored eyes. On the bay, groups of them gather. At times, I also see buffleheads swimming around.

Bufflehead ducks on Lake Huron in north Michigan
Buffleheads tend to gather in groups on the bay

The hooded mergansers are starting to pair up, and can be seen swimming together on the canals.

Hooded merganser pair
Hooded mergansers are also pairing up during early April in north Michigan

The bays are starting to thaw as the weather grows warmer, and I saw some swans swimming on the bay for the first time in months. The gulls are also back; their cries can be heard as they fly back and forth over the bay. Groups are once again starting to gather on the rocks on a small point on the bay.

two gulls on a rock
The gulls are back, and are checking out places to nest

Finally, on the 8th of April, I see them – the first egrets! They are flying over the bay, and my friend and I shout “Whoo hoo!”  Spring is now in full swing with their arrival. I also decide to stop feeding now, since after this long, cold winter the bears will be hungry.

Two egrets in the marshy areas on the bay
It is now officially spring with the arrival of the egrets

The juncos are back, now that the snow is melting and the bare ground is showing. They are busy under the pines, scooping up sunflower seeds dropped by the chickadees and squirrels this past winter.

The juncoes look like small chickens as they scratch the dirt beneath the pines

I also see several mourning doves joining them in feeding. The weather is now above 30 degrees, a real “heat wave” in this part of Michigan, although the days remain cool and rainy. At least it isn’t snowing any more!

Mourning dove in the early morning light

By mid-April, the goldeneye and bufflehead ducks have left the small bay here. They have continued migrating after their stopover here. With lots of rain and cool winds, the snow has finally melted off the ground, and the ice has melted off of the ponds and lakes. Geese are still flying overhead, and I am hoping to see more water birds soon.

This is a time of waiting: waiting for warmer weather; waiting for the migratory birds to show themselves, and waiting for the greens of grass and tree buds. I am looking forward to my trip south next week, where instead of brown, bare ground and bare trees, I will see flowers and greenery – and hopefully, lots of birds!

Finally, I am in the smokies in Tennessee. There are cardinals here, and the cutest baby ducks near a mill. The trees actually have leaves. As I travel south, I hear first, then see a bird that I have not seen up north: a mockingbird. It runs through a variety of songs, and I see it perched on a fence nearby. I also see a yellow finch perched in a tree.

yellow finch
This yellow finch was sitting in a tree near Gatlinburg, TN

I am surprised to see a hawk in the city in southern North Carolina. It is sitting in a tree, surveying the yards below, and I had to take a break from work and snap a quick photo.

Hawk in a tree
Thiis hawk was sitting in a tree in a residential neighborhood in Charlotte, NC

There are other birds that I don’t recognize here, but I will look them up on the Cornell bird site (my favorite when I want information about birds).

There are also cardinals everywhere – they must love the south!

Cardinals can be seen (and heard) everwhere in the suburbs of Charlotte in late April

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