January 3, 2023
At the beginning of a new year, I often review some of the records of my Eliza Howell Park observations. Recently, I have been checking the records of bird sightings.
January 2023 is the beginning of Bird Record Year 19. In 2022, I saw 117 different species, typical of the number I have been seeing each year.
One of the January regulars is the Northern Cardinal (a female is shown here). Cardinals are among the twenty plus species that are found year-round in the park, usually recorded every month of every year.
Other year-round Eliza Howell residents include Red-tailed Hawk and Downy Woodpecker.
The year-round birds are joined in the Winter by a very limited number of species of northern birds that spend their Winters here, southern Michigan being south for them.
The American Tree Sparrow is one of these, in good numbers so far this month, foraging for seeds in the wildflower fields.
The Winter months of December, January, and February have, as expected, the lowest number of species each year, usually fewer than 30 per month.
Things begin to change in March, when the earliest-arriving Summer residents begin to show up. The Killdeer is always one of these March arrivals.
Another early-returning Summer resident is the Wood Duck.
The number of species seen in a month jumps dramatically in April and peaks in May, as more Summer residents return and the species that breed north of here and winter to the south pass through.
The combination of Summer residents and migrating species makes it possible to see as many as 90 different species in the park in May, an exciting month for bird watching.
Among the many species that return every Spring and nest in Eliza Howell are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak,
the Barn Swallow,
the Great-crested Flycatcher,
and the Baltimore Oriole.
The species migrating through are also numerous, but because they pause only briefly in the park, some of them may not be seen every year.
A significant percentage of the migrants each Spring and Fall are warblers (represented here by a Nashville Warbler) …
… and sparrows (such as the White-throated Sparrow).
The Scarlet Tanager is a Summer resident in this part of the country, but it does not breed in Eliza Howell, so my sightings of it are brief ones when it arrives back in Michigan on its way to its breeding location.
The resident birds are engaged in raising their young in the Summer.
September and October are again migration months, as the birds head back south. Most years, the second highest monthly total of species, after May, is September.
One of my favorite late season migrants is the White-crowned Sparrow.
As Fall transitions to Winter, I am frequently greeted by a loud Blue Jay upon my arrival at the park.
Perhaps this very quick review of the Eliza Howell bird year provides some minimal sense of the park’s avian riches. It certainly puts me in the mood to get out frequently to see what this year brings!
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