A Pocketful of Birdseed

June 29, 2019

One of my very favorite places to visit here in Michigan for bird watching and photography is the Kensington Metropark Nature Center in Milford: https://www.metroparks.com/facilities-education/kensington-nature-center/ Any time I travel to the other side of the state to babysit our grandson, I love stopping at Kensington to walk the nature center trails– with a pocketful of birdseed.

Barn Swallow along the boardwalk
Blue Dasher along the boardwalk
Grackle along the boardwalk
Great Blue Heron just before landing in front of me on the boardwalk!!
Great Blue Heron that landed on the boardwalk right in front of me!

The trail I like best at the Nature Center meanders around Wildwing Lake. On the eastern edge of the lake is a long boardwalk from which you can see a small island that that is home to a very busy heron rookery. A rook is defined as “a common Old World gregarious crow  that nests and roosts in usually treetop colonies”. A rookery is defined as “a breeding place or colony of gregarious birds or animals…”  “Gregarious” seems to be one of the operative words here and the herons in this rookery were definitely gregarious!

Mama and the kids in the rookery!
The Great Blue Heron kids in the rookery looked like Muppet Puppets to me!
The Great Blue Heron kids

It was quite a happy surprise for me to find that there were still youngsters in the nests—which I hadn’t expected. I thought they might have all fledged by now. The youngsters I saw, though, were almost as big as the adults and were still dependent on them for food—which, for the parents,  looked like a full time job! All those big mouths to feed!

Sure look like Muppet Puppets to me!
All of the kids want to be fed NOW!!
Feed me!!!
Food Fight!!

Through the eye of my 600mm lens, I could see a lot of sibling squabbling going on high up in the treetops as the young birds waited impatiently to be fed. Even if you didn’t have a telephoto lens or a pair of binoculars, you could still surmise what was going on by of all the squawking!

It was quite a show up there—with all the parents flying back and forth to the nests, ‘babies’ testing out their wings, and dozens of rambunctious nest-mates poking and pecking at each other! I found it hard to tear myself away.

Running out to catch some lunch for the kids
Coming back in with food!
Flying back out
Looking for fish

Eventually, though, I wanted to continue on my way around the lake because I was hoping I might find the ‘famous’  Sandhill Crane couple who have been raising a Canada goose ‘baby’ along with their own biological ‘child’. It’s quite a heartwarming story that I’ve been following on the Birding Michigan Facebook page but that you can also read about here: https://www.audubon.org/news/this-sandhill-crane-couple-adopted-baby-goose. Unfortunately I never found the Goose/Crane family and was left wondering if the goose will stay with his Crane family forever or eventually join a flock of Canada geese. Time will tell…

These two beautiful Sandhill Cranes came walking towards me, but they were not the couple who had adopted a Canada Goose

The other thing I didn’t see today, which really surprised me, were the songbirds that usually flutter around me in the trees along the path hoping that I’ll hold out a handful of seed for them. Every other time I’ve walked these trails, the chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers and other birds have flown around my head or landed on nearby trees trying to get my attention. I always bring a pocketful of seeds because I love having their little birdy feet rest gently on my hand as they carefully decide which treat they like best.

More ‘babies’ ready to leave the nest– almost!

Even though I didn’t see many songbirds today, I’d stop periodically and extend my hand hoping they would see the seeds, but they didn’t. Only one adorable little chickadee was on the ball. Where were all the rest of my birdies?? Was it too hot? Was it the wrong time of day?? Did I have bad karma? I have no idea, but, I must say, the poor turnout was quite disappointing!

Still looking for food!

The walk itself, though, was NOT disappointing and I took over 500 pictures! By the end of my walk, I felt quite rejuvenated — in spite of the oppressive heat .

Baltimore Checkerspot in the field

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