Photographic gallery of birds and wildlife in the Interlochen/Traverse City, MI area.
Loon family on the lake
We have a nesting pair of loons at the south end of Duck Lake. They produce hatchlings in most years. Loon hatchlings are threatened by eagles, turtles, raccoons, otters, and boaters. They are beautiful and entertaining, great swimmers, divers and flyers, but they struggle to get airborne and are ungainly on land - hence their name.
This is a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers, an adult and adolescent male. Woodpeckers are very entertaining and there a number of different species. Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are virtually indistinguishable, but the Hairy Woodpeckers are larger...
Large, beautiful birds with a bad rep. They are raucous, but not as "mean" as some other birds. I have read they are really gray, not blue... they just look blue. Doesn't that mean they "are" blue.... They stay throughout the year and are among the first to come to our feeders (right after the Chickadees) when we return to the house.
A shy bird, the Eastern Phoebe avoids open spaces and people. This one built a nest on top of a kayak hanging under our deck. We didn't use they kayak for the first half of the summer to avoid disturbing the nest.
Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Remarkable characters, and per ounce, the toughest bird on the block. This one frequented a feeder hanging on the arbor in front of our house.
Lovely little gray birds, the Titmouse is elegant and a welcome sight when they are around. They do tend to stay through the winter.
White Breasted Nuthatch
This is a remarkable bird. Like its (smaller) cousin the Red Breasted Nuthatch, these birds are frequently seen hopping up the trunks of trees. They are often viewed "upside down" hanging on tree trunks with their heads pointed down.
These birds stay around all winter and love thistle seed. In spring and summer, the males are vibrant yellow. The bird on the right side with a small red patch on its head is a Red Poll.
This large(!) woodpecker is remarkable. Once you have heard their call you will realize that you hear them frequently (but rarely see them). They sound like Woody Woodpecker.....
A stately bird, the Northern Cardinal is perhaps taken for granted. The male is the beautiful red you see here, while the female is a dusky gray. Both have the distinctive "hat".
This is an immature bald eagle that spent the summer at Duck Lake. The picture was taken from a boat on the lake and the tree is directly opposite (to the east) of The Point where people tend to gather and swim.
These feisty little ground squirrels are ubiquitous in northern Michigan. They seem to really enjoy tormenting our dogs.
Red Headed Woodpecker
Another dignified bird. This woodpecker is somewhat shy, but still visible throughout the year.
This picture shows a male and female (the male has the more prominent black head and shoulders). These brightly colored birds are summer visitors and really do like the orange slices on top of the hummingbird feeder
This is a female (no red cap on the back of her head). The Downy looks exactly like the Hairy Woodpecker, but is about half the size.
Rose Breasted Grosbeak
This is a male Grosbeak. The females are the same size but are brown, with lighter streaks. They are regulars at the feeders and fairly aggressive in chasing away smaller birds.
The tuft on top of their heads frequently lies flat and is not prominent. They love peanuts, along with the Blue Jays, some Woodpeckers, and the Squirrels (of course).
Intensely curious, and mostly unafraid of people or dogs, Raccoons are adorable when they are small and irritating when they are adults. With their human-like "hands", they are famously able to break into almost any bird feeder or trash can. Adult Raccoons fighting create a huge amount of noise.
This is a male Pileated (more red on the head). It's hard to get an impression of their size, but they are the biggest of the Woodpeckers, about the size of an adult Crow.
This lovely little snake is common in Michigan. They are shy, harmless and will disappear very quickly when people approach.
These beautiful birds have become somewhat common in northern Michigan (in winter) as well as further south (in Chicago for example). They have been driven south from the northern tundra in recent years by shortages of the rodents they prefer to eat.
These birds are fairly common in northern Michigan, but are loners, only one or two per lake. They are avid fishers, and sport and commercial fisherman very much resent their presence. Unlike most waterfowl they have no oil on their wings. When they dive (for fish) their wings become saturated and it is difficult for them to fly. They are often seen standing on a rock or log with wings outstretched drying the sunlight.
The Northern Flying Squirrel is nocturnal, unlike its more common cousins the Ground and Tree Squirrels. Of course they don't really fly, but can glide for 25 yards or more with their legs stretching the their loose skin into aerodynamic surfaces. They are not seen often, but are entertaining when they come to the feeders at night (really like peanuts).