Friday, September 30, 2016


October 20 Program
Joe Engel

Joe Engel will present a program discussing Muskegon areas that are under the auspices of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.

See the sidebar for time and place information. 

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan works “to keep nature nearby” and helps people protect, enjoy, and care for natural land in West Michigan. You can learn more about the conservancy at their website

Joe Engel, a native of Muskegon, is the newly-appointed director of the conservancy. Joe spent much of his youth exploring the dunes and shoreline just over the hill from his back dunes home. His love of nature – and a like-minded family – led to fishing, camping, and hiking throughout both peninsulas and ultimately fostered a lifelong love of the outdoors that has taken him to all fifty states. 

Having seen Mt. Denali on a clear day in Alaska and soaked his feet in the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Joe will tell you it’s still tough to match the beauty of a brown trout rising through the morning mist on the Pere Marquette River.

An attorney by training and vocation, Joe has been involved in numerous environmental and conservation organizations throughout his life. He has been a supporter of the Land Conservancy for the past decade, and more recently has served on its board and executive committee. Joe joined the Land Conservancy this year.

Joe's program at our meeting on October 20 will focus on the many conservancy properties in the Greater Muskegon and West Michigan areas and how we can enjoy them for birding and other natural endeavors.

October 22 Field Trip
Ric Pedler & Brian Johnson

Meet at the North Muskegon McDonald's restaurant just north of the Veteran's Memorial Causeway from 7:15-8:00 for coffee and chatter.  Follow Ric to Snug Harbor (Muskegon State Park, vehicles with Michigan Recreation Passport license plates) to look for birds along the fringes and paths.

At mid-morning, drive back to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve and view Brian Johnson's bird-banding operation at the pavilion in the center of the preserve.

This trip will end around noon.  The public is welcome.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17 Field Trip Report

Early morning rains moved out of the area before today's bird walk.  After gathering near the Hoffmaster State Park Pavilion at 8:20, 14 of us drove over to Black Lake Park and walked the trails until 10:00. 

Birding a Black Lake trail. - photo by Travis Dewys

Among the 29 bird species were Northern Flicker, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-headed Woodpecker (immature), Swainson's Thrush, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pied-billed Grebe, Cedar Waxwing, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler and Pine Warbler.

Back at Hoffmaster we saw Baltimore Oriole and Scarlet Tanager females and a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. Unfortunately only Black-capped Chickadees came to the Bob Moblo Pool behind the Gillette Nature Center during our visit.

Thanks to Feller DeWitt for leading.  For the day we counted 36 species.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

August 20 Field Trip Report

Thanks to Pat Bazany for leading us on a successful field trip today, and knowing when to stop.

At least 20 people in more than 10 cars birded the center section of the Muskegon County Wastewater properties this morning finding over 40 kinds of birds.

The rapid filtration cells along White Road produced Song, Vesper and Savannah sparrows, Dickcissel, Bobolinks (dozens in immature or female plumage), kingbird, meadowlark, Sandhill Crane, Great Blue Heron and Indigo Bunting.

Shorebirds in the two western aeration lagoons and along the big West Lagoon included sandpipers (Least, Semipalmated, Pectoral, Solitary, Baird's, Stilt, Spotted), Lesser Yellowlegs, plovers (Black-bellied, Semipalmated, Killdeer) and Short-billed Dowitchers.

Ducks included Ruddy, Mallard, Gadwall, shovelers and Blue-winged Teal; swallows included Barn, Tree and Cliff; extras included hummingbird, bluebird, vulture, kestrel, Pileated Woodpecker and Red-tailed Hawk.

By 11:30 the sun had long-since disappeared.  Pat called it a day before the fast-approaching purple storm could dampen any part of our trip.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

July 16 Field Trip Report

Ten of us began this morning's field trip at the old Ferguson Farm on East River Road followed by a quick, unsuccessful search for the Prothonotary Warbler at the Cedar Creek bridge on Holton-Duck Lake Road.  Thanks to Charlie DeWitt for the five photos!

 Baltimore Oriole at the farm.

It was a beautiful day and many birds were out, several with their families, especially the Great Crested Flycatchers!

Eastern Wood-Pewee singing near the farm parking lot.

Juvenile Green Heron on the farm footbridge.

Our day concluded with eight people walking along the north bank of the Maple River at State Game Area headquarters.  All told we recorded 47 bird species this morning with totals of 35 at the farm and 21 along the river.

Three of us walking the Maple River two-track.

Highlights at the farm included Hooded Merganser, Green Heron, Sandhill Crane, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Sedge Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Gray Catbird along the Maple River

Species of note along the river included Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow-throated Vireo feeding a fledgling, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, Blue-winged Warbler feeding a fledgling, American Redstart, Chipping Sparrow (many juveniles) and Indigo Bunting (at least 1 female and 3 males).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Big Day Count: 8 People and 117 Bird Species

Four to eight people trekked from 4:45 a.m until 7:45 p.m. from Lane's Landing to the State Game Area headquarters to the Wastewater to the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve to Muskegon State Park (Snug Harbor, the lakeshore, and the Muskegon Channel) on our annual Big Day Count, Saturday, May 21, 2016.

Highlights included Common Nighthawk, American Bittern, Black-crowned Night-heron and both cuckoos at Lane's Landing, Blue-winged and Cerulean Warblers at the SGA, Willet, White-rumped Sandpiper, Orchard Oriole, Red-headed Woodpecker and Black Tern at the Wastewater and two Barred Owls at Snug Harbor.

Our final "official total" was the 117 species listed below in alphabetical order.  Disappointing misses included Hairy Woodpecker, both nuthatches, and most of the warblers -- not even a Yellow-rumped!

Bittern, American
Blackbird, Red-winged
Bluebird, Eastern
Bunting, Indigo
Cardinal, Northern
Catbird, Gray
Chickadee, Black-capped
Coot, American
Cormorant, Double-crested
Cowbird, Brown-headed
Crane, Sandhill
Cuckoo, Black-billed
Cuckoo, Yellow-billed
Dove, Mourning
Dowitcher, Short-billed
Duck, Ruddy
Duck, Wood
Eagle, Bald
Finch, House
Flicker, Northern
Flycatcher, Alder
Flycatcher, Great Crested
Flycatcher, Least
Flycatcher, Willow
Gnatcatcher, Blue-gray
Goldfinch, American
Goose, Canada
Grackle, Common
Grebe, Pied-billed
Grosbeak, Rose-breasted
Gull, Bonaparte's
Gull, Herring
Gull, Ring-billed
Harrier, Northern
Hawk, Red-tailed
Heron, Great Blue
Hummingbird, Ruby-throated
Jay, Blue
Kingbird, Eastern
Kinglet, Ruby-crowned
Lark, Horned
Martin, Purple
Meadowlark, Eastern
Merganser, Hooded
Night-heron, Black-crowned
Nighthawk, Common
Oriole, Baltimore
Oriole, Orchard
Owl, Barred
Parula, Northern
Pewee, Eastern Wood-
Phoebe, Eastern
Pigeon, Rock
Plover, Piping
Plover, Semipalmated
Redstart, American
Robin, American
Sandpiper, Least
Sandpiper, Semipalmated
Sandpiper, Solitary
Sandpiper, Spotted
Sandpiper, Upland
Sandpiper, White-rumped
Scaup, Lesser
Shoveler, Northern
Sparrow, Chipping
Sparrow, Field
Sparrow, Grasshopper
Sparrow, House
Sparrow, Savannah
Sparrow, Song
Sparrow, Swamp
Sparrow, Vesper
Sparrow, White-crowned
Starling, European
Swallow, Bank
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Cliff
Swallow, Northern Rough-winged
Swallow, Tree
Swan, Mute
Swift, Chimney
Tanager, Scarlet
Teal, Blue-winged
Teal, Green-winged
Tern, Black
Thrasher, Brown
Thrush, Wood
Titmouse, Tufted
Vireo, Red-eyed
Vireo, Warbling
Vireo, Yellow-throated
Vulture, Turkey
Warbler, Black-throated Green
Warbler, Blue-winged
Warbler, Cerulean
Warbler, Prothonotary
Warbler, Yellow
Woodpecker, Downy
Woodpecker, Pileated
Woodpecker, Red-bellied
Woodpecker, Red-headed
Wren, House
Wren, Marsh
Yellowlegs, Greater
Yellowlegs, Lesser
Yellowthroat, Common

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

May 19 Potluck Report Updated

After our annual potluck picnic meeting on May 19, 2016, club members took a brief evening walk around the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve finding 38 species of birds.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

May 7 Field Trip Report Updated

Seven of us took two cool morning walks today on Ken Sherburn's field trip.  We counted 32 bird species at Lake Harbor Park, 19 at Hoffmaster State Park, for a total of 39 species for the day.

Warblers hid this morning.  A Pine Warbler at Lake Harbor and an Ovenbird at Hoffmaster were the only members of that family recorded.  We also never saw a robin at Hoffmaster!

Notable at Lake Harbor were Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cedar Waxwing, the Pine Warbler, White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, and an Eastern Towhee.

At Hoffmaster we saw a pair of Eastern Phoebes and their nest, watched an Osprey overhead, heard the frequent calling of a Red-shouldered Hawk, and watched two Black-capped Chickadees zipping in and out of the nest hole they were excavating.


April 23 Field Trip Report

Fourteen people birded the Upper Macatawa Natural Area east of Holland this morning.  Liz Notman led us through woodland habitat beside the Macatawa River and then marsh, meadow and other woodland areas along the main path east of 48th Ave.

Of the 45 bird species encountered, most were the usual spring suspects.  Highlights included 5 Blue-winged Teal landing on one of the ponds, 2 Great Egrets flying overhead, a high-flying Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 Red-tailed Hawks, Soras and Virginia Rails calling both early and late, Wilson's Snipe, Belted Kingfisher, a Northern Rough-winged Swallow (among the many Tree Swallows), a Brown Creeper, 4 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Hermit Thrush, and five sparrow species (Chipping, White-throated, Song, Swamp and House).

Eric Gustafson also showed us pictures of a White-eyed Vireo that he had photographed earlier on the property!

Even without the birds it was an enjoyable cool spring walk through some beautiful areas.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

March 19 Field Trip Report

Six hardy souls birded several Ottawa County locations this morning tallying 47 bird species along the way.

Scoping the Great Black-backed Gull at Grand Haven.

Highlights included Rough-legged Hawk, Pied-billed Grebe, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, Tundra Swan, Wood Duck and American Coot at Harbor Island; Cedar Waxwing in Grand Haven; Song Sparrow and Great Black-backed Gull at City Beach; and Brown-headed Cowbird, Fox Sparrow and Pine Siskin at the feeders at Hemlock Crossing.

Female Red-bellied and Male Downy Woodpeckers.

Aberrant-colored Male House Finch at Hemlock Crossing.

All photos by Carol Cooper.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

February 20 Field Trip Report

Seven of us found 25 bird species at four locations this morning.  The day started with breakfast at the Cherokee restaurant.  

Our extinguished distinguished DeWitt Brothers at the channel.

It was windy and cold at the Muskegon Channel where we found 17 species including Long-tailed Duck, Common and Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye.

Long-tailed Duck

A quick stop at Lakeside Cemetary earned us our target bird: a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker.

Young Red-headed Woodpecker by Charlie DeWitt

The trails at Lake Harbor Park had dangerous slick spots so we stayed less than a half hour finding seven of the usual species.

The DeWitt property by the airport yielded ten species including Brown Creeper, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Wild Turkey and this male Hairy Woodpecker.

It was a beautiful morning with temperatures in the 40's, and the birds we found made it all the better.