What a pleasant surprise I had yesterday! I added three life birds (Horned Grebe, Lesser Scaup, and American Golden Plover) to my birding list, and saw lots of migrating water birds and several neotropical songbirds near Lake Erie.
It was wonderful to see the life birds, though I wish I had been able to capture better shots of them (you’ll see a shot of the Horned Grebe at the end of this post).
Nonetheless, one of the birds that stood out for me was the Black-crowned Night Heron I saw at Erie Marsh Preserve in Monroe Michigan, just north of the Ohio border.
The bird was perched on a tree limb as you entered the preserve; his white and light gray/blue color stood out on the limb, though I expect in a few weeks, the tree foliage will easily conceal him.
I was surprised since I usually see Black-crowned Night Herons at dusk or early morning, when they’re foraging for food. And they’re not easy to find, since they often are hidden behind branches or foilage.
And it’s been years since I’ve seen a Black-crowned Night Heron in Michigan, but I see them in Florida and along the eastern U.S. shoreline.
First time I saw one was about 15 years ago, at the retention ponds in a Chicago suburb at dusk. I followed the bird as it flew from retention pond to retention pond, until it was too dark to spot him.
At last month’s Michigan Botanical Club meeting, I chatted with Chris May from The Nature Conservancy who was the guest speaker, talking about the wetland restoration at the marsh. I told him I thought the sign at the entrance said for people to stay out.
But Chris assured me the sign was from a private homeowner, who had the sign turned the wrong way. He encouraged me and other birders to come out for spring migration, so I planned a trip.
Here’s a few more birds I saw yesterday at Erie Marsh and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge: