The first time I saw a Northern Bobwhite was in March 2017, on a cold wintry evening at dusk, as I slowly drove an icy road in eastern Washtenaw County.
I stopped on the road along a brushy area, looking for the owls, when in front of me, a group of six small brown birds scurried across the road.
I quickly took photos, thinking, could those be Northern Bobwhites?
I’d never seen them before and they’re not common in our area.
Two hours later, after reviewing the dimly-lit fuzzy photos at home and poring over three bird guides, I was convinced.
They were Northern Bobwhites.
The first birds reported in the county for a while. It was a great find!
Northern Bobwhites Return
Which was why I was excited this week to read the reports of multiple Northern Bobwhite in our area.
Most birders reported hearing the distinctive call of the birds, but several people saw the bird along the railroad tracks.
Off I went this weekend to find it, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Within a minute of arriving at the area where they reported, I heard their distinctive call.
Repeatedly within 50 feet of where my vehicle was parked.
I quickly gathered my binoculars and camera, walked along the railroad tracks, and within 30 seconds I found the Northern Bobwhite.
Sitting on the tracks, calling out for five minutes before disappearing into the grasses of the ditch.
What a treat to see him in the bright sunshine of the day!
Are They Native Birds?
Our birding community in southeast Michigan has mixed thoughts about Northern Bobwhite reports in our area, many birders believe the native population is no more.
And that the birds we saw are birds that have escaped hunting club areas, where they were introduced.
I have some reason to think they’re native to the area.
My friend Bill had conversations with homeowners this week in the area where the Bobwhites were found. The homeowners confirmed the birds have been seen and heard in the fields, trees, and along the railroad tracks for years.