From our walks around Detroit, this is our blog of animals, insects, trees, plants and other things from nature that we see. Most of the photos are ones that S.or I have taken in our neighborhood or during our travels in the city.
We saw these fish flies last year - clouds of them around the overhead lights late at night. Really was eerie. Their wings made a loud sort of droning noise that we heard before recognizing what they were.
Unlike many songbirds, both male and female cardinals sing. the female often sings from her nest. I love how the female’s beak is so orange against the tan feathers of the bird. See our prior post on Cardinals (with photos of the males).
Took us a while to figure our what this bird was - it kept showing up at our feeder with a couple Goldfinches. Found out that female Purple Finches sometimes travel with Goldfinches. The breast streaks of female Purple Finches do not converge in a central spot as on many sparrows. We've haven't spotted a male Purple Finch yet.
We've seen Double-crested Cormorants before on the Detroit River, but this time there was a cluster of them spreading their wings while resting on stumps in a lagoon. Pelicans, turkey vultures, and some other birds will also spread their wings like this while standing. Scientists believe that the birds do it to help dry their feathers.
We saw this squirrel just before Halloween. It was all white! The New York Times tells us that white squirrels are a genetic variation of gray squirrels - just like the black squirrels that we see around town. If the squirrel was an albino squirrel, which would also look white, it would have pink or blue eyes.
I think this is an Eastern Phoebe. We watched while it flitted between a row of trees. The bird looked almost a shade yellow, but we think that was the light from the sun as it was going down. A phoebe was the first bird in the United States that was banded to track its migrations. In 1804, John James Audubon tied a silver thread around one's leg to record when the bird come back the following year.
We saw this huge bug during the late summer and it pretty much freaked out everyone in our family. My mom saw it first when she was taking out the trash at night. It was very active and was digging a hole between the slabs in our driveway. She thought it was a mole or a snake digging a hole. We used a flashlight and watched for a while before figuring out it was a big shiny bug. Its a called a Cicada Killer Wasp, which makes sense because we see a lot of cicada's in our yard. Females dig a hole for their nests. They use their jaws to dig and then push dirt out of the hole backwards. The female will then find a cicada, sting it and then carry it back to the nest. She will then bury the cicada in a chamber and will lay also lay an egg there before burying the cicada and her egg inside. The cicada will be used for food by the baby wasps (larvae) when the egg hatches.
During the summer, rock doves built a scruffy nest outside a window of my father's office in the Cass Corridor. I finally got to see the babies after they had grown a bit. Pigeons don't keep a very clean living area, but the baby birds were cute. Their skin looked dark blue. Baby pigeons are called squabs.
The black feathers on a Red-winged Blackbird seem soooo black and the red on the wing soooo red. The females too are colorful in a different way - with yellow and brown stripes on their head and dark brown and white speckles on their body (we need a better picture). We've run into some aggressive ones on Belle Isle. They can weave some pretty amazing nests among the cattails.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is related to many birds, including the Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle and the Baltimore Oriole. The Brown-headed Cowbird breeds mostly in northern states and parts of southern Canada. The bird lives year round in pretty much all states. I do not get why it is called a cow bird - it doesn’t look very cowish to me. I get the brown head part though.
These Killdeer have come back and laid their speckled eggs in a nearby community garden during the last two summers. The eggs looked almost like gravel. I stayed on the sidewalk and we used a zoom lens because we did not want to disturb them. The mother watched us pretty closely. Killdeer lay their eggs on the ground and then add material to the nest.
The American Goldfinch undergoes a molt in the spring and autumn. It is the only finch to undergo a molt twice a year. The markings on their feathers remain through each molt, with bars on the wings and white under and at the edges of the short, V-shaped tail. I think the gold finches are cute little birds and wonder what they would be like to have as a pet.
The Northern Goshawk is the largest North American goshawks and sparrowhawks. It generally lives in dense woods, taking prey as small as squirrels and as large as rabbits. Cool fact to now is that Attila the Hun actually wore a picture of a Northern Goshawk on his helmet. I did not see this bird, but my dad saw it on Mack Ave. when it was being snipped at by several crows and he snapped a couple fuzzy pictures before it flew away. You can find out more about these birds here.
There’s the black eye stripe, the white crown and the yellow near the eyes, the white throat bordered by a black whisker - also known as a malar stripe. The tune of the white-throated sparrow’s whistle is Oh Sweet Canada. These birds breed mostly in Canada, but in the winter they can be seen in parts of eastern and southern North America. I particularly like this bird because of its colors and I also think it’s very cute. More info. on these little birds can be found here.
The first words that come to my mind when I see the common golden eye are: quack, dark colored, and James Bond.
The common golden eye is a duck you dont see too often - we have seen them twice at Belle Ilse. If you don't know why they are called the common golden eye, it's because they have a golden eye. If you ever see this duck and you know it's a common golden eye, but you cant tell if it's is male or female, first look at the eye. The male has a gold eye and the female has whiteish to almost yellow. Second, look at the face. The male has a black head with a white oval and the female's head is brown. During winter, they are found in most of the US. In summmer, they are mostly found in Canada. Check Cornell University's AllAboutBirds site for more information.
My Dad and I didn't really know what this was till we watched it for a while. Then I saw its tail and am pretty sure it was a beaver - the tail looked wide - not long and thin like a muskrat's. So for now its a beaver. But is hard to be sure since it spent all its time in the water before disappearing under the ice.
Beavers breed only once a year. When the babies turn two-years-old, they leave home in the spring to find mates.
Trapping kills many beavers each year. In the early 1900s, beavers were almost extinct in North America.
Beavers are really cute. They look so furry and I like their meatball noses. I'd like to have one as a pet.
For more info. on beavers check the Beavers, Wetlands, and Wildlife website and for information on their return to the Detroit River, click here.