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A Year of Birds: March 2023

March has come in cold and blustery, with several inches of snow falling, as if to make up for the warmer weather at the end of February.  Ice has formed on the bay again, and it is bitter cold. One early morning during this cold spell, I saw a group of juvenile eagles out on the ice. Sometimes, they will sit and drink water, or do a bit of what must amount to ice fishing in the cold waters of Lake Huron.

On this day, it was fascinating to watch them play and posture with each other as they were gathered together. Later, an adult eagle joined them, as if wanting to make sure the “teenagers” were okay.

A pair of mourning doves have started visiting the bird feeder. They are pretty shy, and will fly away when I come outside to put more seed in. But by staying still, I was able to catch one that was eating on the ground. I love the soft colors and mournful cries of this beautiful bird.

On one sunny but cold day, I saw a pair of swans on the bay. They come floating around the nearby point to feed in the waters, then float on down the shoreline.

After their initial appearance two weeks ago, the goldeneyes disappeared. But now in the middle of March, the weather  is slowly warming up, and the drive to attract a mate brings the goldeneyes to this relatively protected bay where the males will begin displaying by throwing their heads back.

I saw a pair floating in the bay, signaling the start. Others will join them soon.

While going into town, I saw a couple of hawks. One was in a tree, and the other was flying high above.

Sure enough, as the weather is continuing to warm up, with snow melting and the ice on the bay breaking up, the goldeneyes are gathering. They float past in the mornings in large groups, and some of the males are starting to point their heads back. This always feels like spring to me, as the spring migration is now in full swing.

Each day, I can see the goldeneyes winging their way across the bay with greater frequency, especially just after dawn.

The gulls are also migrating back. While some stay here all winter, hordes of them show up on the beach in early spring, and their loud calls can be heard back and forth all day long now.

When going south to Ohio, I saw a red tail hawk sitting in a tree outside the hotel I was staying at. It was early on a cloudy day, and while I love seeing them, I was saddened that this beautiful wild bird has been forced to adapt to city living in order to survive. I wish I could take it north, and let it fly free with its cousins in the woods of Michigan.

I heard a loud chirping when filling up at the gas station on the way home, and there was a young sparrow, chirping away. It seemed perturbed when I took a picture of it, and didn’t give it a French fry in return (but this kind of food is bad for birds, and honestly, humans too!).

After returning back north, it got colder, but the goldeneyes are pairing up, and still coming in great flocks on the relatively protected bay.

But on the last days of the month, the temperatures dropped again to 10 degrees (this is Michigan!) and a big snowstorm came in. Spring can be quite cold here, and I am glad that the birds are well-adapted to the weather changes this time of year.

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