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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Wednesday July 30, 2014

Updated on July 30, 2014
Fall Bird Migration
Fall Bird Migration | Source

Field Notes

Even Though It Isn't Fall, Migration Has Begun

Look up in the skies to see the wonders of nature—fall migration is happening NOW.

Pesticides and the Food Chain
Pesticides and the Food Chain | Source

Chemicals Can Kill For Decades

Dead birds found in MI due to a chemical spill decades ago caused by Velsicol Chemical. It was shut down in the ‘90s, but the worms found on the site are killing the birds due to high concentrations of DDE. For more, see:

Flyway Map for all regions
Flyway Map for all regions | Source

Sights on the Central Flyway

Here is what is happening and should be happening on the Central Flyway for fall migration. You could well see some of these birds heading your way in TX. Hawks will be starting shortly, so dust off those cameras and binoculars for some very exciting times!

Occupied Eastern Bluebird Nest Box
Occupied Eastern Bluebird Nest Box | Source

What You Can Do to Help

This year is not nearly as dry as 2013, and the beauty of that is that there will be a number of interesting birds with us this summer, fall, and winter. Migratory stopovers are very important for those birds that travel thousands of miles to go to very southern destinations from the US and Canada. They prefer water over food in many cases, so it will be best if you can help in your back yards with both, especially the water. You may not receive hundreds or thousands of birds, but you will get a nice number of those birds that you may not have seen before. Good luck, and as usual, report your oddities to me for tracking purposes.

American Avocets, Breeding Plumage
American Avocets, Breeding Plumage | Source

Over the weekend, the American Avocet was found in breeding plumage on the west side of the lake. This thrilled a number of area residents, who were quite taken by this beauty. These are some of the most graceful waders that I have ever seen. The avocet has a very thin, upturned bill, and the Black-necked Stilt has a relatively straight bill, with a shiny black back and white underparts. Stilts are casual visitors to the great lakes, but they are spreading north.

Green Heron
Green Heron | Source

Green Heron Clan

There are at least a couple of pairs of Green Herons on our wonderful lake, and there are young! This is a thrilling discovery, which I really have not looked for. I have heard their calls, I have an idea where they are, but I shall not disturb them. I want these beauties to return to the area next ear, even though they will not be breeders. It takes two or three years for these beautiful herons to reach breeding age, but they will still return to their places of birth in most cases. I had a single bird that visited with me on a regular basis over the past couple of years. There was also a second bird, not nearly as enchanting, but they all have different personalities.

Great Blue Heron "The Sentinel"
Great Blue Heron "The Sentinel" | Source

Heron and Egret Talk

Plenty of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are at the ready for fishing, most at the Northern Reaches where there is a small heronry. Snowy Egret was on the main part of the lake for a short time last week, which I only spotted on one day. It is not unusual that most of the egret and heron family nest all together, sometimes just within a foot or two of one another in some nesting regions. Luckily, some of the predators that normally are interested in them are at a bare minimum around here. I’m not saying that they don’t have to watch out for themselves, as they do, because raccoons, the occasional eagle, hawks, and vultures will partake if they are hungry enough. Grackles and crows will also eat the eggs if the nests are empty, so these birds must be and are normally very diligent in keeping that from happening.

Mallard x Northern Pintail
Mallard x Northern Pintail | Source

Can Mallards Breed With Other Ducks?

Most of the Mallard young are grown, and I had the opportunity to snap this photo. This Mallard appears to be a cross with a Northern Pintail. Do you see the evidence of a longer tail? Ducks in the same family can breed together, so if you check your bird books for the anas family, you’ll come up with a number of interesting mixes that are very possible. Mallards mix frequently with the more aggressive American Black Ducks, as well as the Gadwall. The Mallard will also breed with many domestics, too.

Turtle's Head
Turtle's Head | Source


I was very lucky to get a good short of this turtle’s head, as they usually will duck under the water when someone is in close proximity. I was interested in seeing the iris, which is rather unusual.

American Crow
American Crow

American Crow

The American Crows are frequenting the area more than usual to look for food, since most animals are finished with breeding for the season. Since they are opportunists, they would much rather rely on another animal for their food, but I have seen them picking up unearthed clams, which had been rejected for whatever reason. They will eat just about anything, like the gulls. However, they will go one step further. They will pick up nuts and hang around traffic lights. They’ll drop their nuts where they will be run over and cracked, so that the crow can retrieve the nutmeat when the majority of the traffic has passed. They aren’t lazy, just smart.

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe | Source

Eastern Phoebe

I was presented with the Eastern Phoebe a couple of days ago, which looks very similar to the Eastern Kingbird. It looks similar, as it is in the same family, the flycatchers. My attention was drawn, as it sounds nothing like the kingbird, for it says its own name in a husky voice. My photos were poor, as leaves were in the way, but it clearly showed the lack of the white tip of the tail that the kingbird has.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher | Source

Where Are the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers?

The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are close to migrating out of the area, but there are a few stragglers still on the lake. After breeding season, they will go to roost areas where they will gather until it is time to migrate. It seems to be a little early for this phenomena now, but I have not seen any young ones for about a week. These birds generally find roost trees near quiet streams, which some have used for decades. Roosts are between 100-300 birds, and there are some as large as 1,000. As the season progresses and the young birds grow and mature that were hatched this year, the size of the roosts will ebb and flow. Like most songbirds, the scissor-tail migrates at night, so we’ll not see our state bird when they leave, but we could well hear them.

This is the end of our visit this week, but we’ll talk again next time. Keep your eyes to the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!

Clouds of Birds, Swirling in the Air, or Hundreds or Thousands of Birds Heading in One Direction, Usually Denotes a Migration

Have You Seen Migrations?

See results
Great Egret Makes You Laugh
Great Egret Makes You Laugh | Source
Green Heron in Flight
Green Heron in Flight | Source
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source
Canada Goose "One On the Wall"
Canada Goose "One On the Wall" | Source

© 2014 Deb Hirt


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    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Dave, I adore the herons. They are my specialty. Finding out these various pieces of news is actually a job within itself, burt I think it makes things more interesting.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Deb,

      Thank you once again for keeping us up to date with conservation,migration and general facts about birds on your side of the water which always adds to my knowledge of our feathered friends. All your pictures are a joy to see,my favourite this week is the same as ImKarn23 the Great blue heron,I think he looks very studious.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Anna! I got the turtle again this morning, but of a different pose. I'll have to see how it comes out as soon as I have a bit of time to upload photos.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Alicia! It's always nice to have you and everyone else along for the ride. We can all learn together.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      ChitrangadaSharan, I'm glad that you enjoy what I pick out for the article. It is giving me an idea about what people might like.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      Very informative and as always your photographs are excellent. The Canada Goose is striking and I love the turtle photograph.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for creating another very informative hub, Deb. I always learn more about birds when I read your hubs. I enjoy the experience very much!

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful information about migration of birds and lovely pictures as always! I loved your eco- friendly tips.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Faith Reaper! Many people haven't had the numbers of birds that they are used to seeing this year. My understanding is that there are pesticides out there that are even more damaging to birds, as well as bees. The best way to fight those, is not to buy them.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      No migration yet that I have seen, but we live so far south, so maybe on their way. I have seen bird migrations in the past. They are just fascinating to watch. Thank you for the reminder about the water. We have had a good bit of rain this summer. Amazing photos as always. Love that sweet little Eastern Phoebe.

      Up ++++ and away

      Have a great weekend ahead.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      I got it, Deb. So I need to be more patient about it.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Nell, I swear that I don't wait for the birds to perform. They do their thing when they see me. But seriously, it goes to show what wasn't cleaned up in Michigan, so the birds still suffer for it today.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Hi Deb, the patience you must have to take those awesome photos! they always amaze me! and that chemical spill and the worms, thats awful! just goes to show how long it takes to clean up an area, so we must always be so darn careful everywhere, wonderful as always, nell

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Jackie! I turned off Pinterest, which you can do somehow, but I don't recall how I did it. I found out that they claim ownership if you post pictures there, hence my displeasure. I think you found yourself a roost spot. Many birds will roost after the youngsters have grown up, but are still juveniles. The kids have to grow up before they can migrate, or they won't make it. They are lucky if half of them survive the first migration, which is very hard on their bodies. Roosting spots have been known to be used over the years, so yes, watch it and see. Good job!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Suhail! There are black bears in OK, supposedly on the rise, but I have not seen any. Perhaps you need to get to know a Great Blue Heron, like I have. Mine perform for me at the drop of a hat. They will observe you, and if they feel threatened, they will leave. They also have bad days and get grouchy, like we do, if they aren't having good fishing days.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      So interesting and your photography is like art work and I hope none steal it. Hey how did you get rid of pinterest? Good idea. I would love to do that too!

      Did I tell you about the time a couple summers ago I sat in a parking lot with trees and what looked and sounded to be a million birds? They were all jabbering and bunches of them would fly out in a V and swirl around and come back into the trees. I know they were having a convention and practicing or perhaps teaching ones that had never migrated? I was enraptured by it and stayed as long as I could. I had no camera on me! I keep one now though and will be watching that spot hoping it might happen again. ^+

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Wow! Never knew that migration may have already started on certain flyways.

      Just out of curiosity, are there black bears in your neck of the woods? How about OK in general?

      Btw, I am yet to get that great blue heron shot. I miss it every time on the river. I wait for eternity only to see it flying from other side of the bank or a nearby creek. I think it observes me and then takes the final decision to fly away.

    • economyk profile image

      Artur 3 years ago from Belarus

      I like big birds. Such as eagles.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      vandynegl, I sure will. I'm so glad that you enjoy the sport, too. There are so many great things out there.

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Great information and awesome pictures! Although I love birdwatching where I live, your turtle picture was my favorite!

      Keep sharing!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, perspy! I always appreciate your coming by and enjoy those birds!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 3 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      I always look forward to your contributions here. Useful, Beautiful, Ineresting.....and Like.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, economy! Thanks so much for visiting my little area. You like birds, eh?

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Teresa! They could still be north of you, too. Songbirds migrate at night, so you'll never see them passing through. A number of interesting birds were in the Northeast this year.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks so much, Jill. The birds need all the help that you can give them, especially now.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, whonu! I always manage to find something, don't I?

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Leslie! The herons are always a winner in my book. They all have different personalities and are real characters in many ways.

    • economyk profile image

      Artur 3 years ago from Belarus

      Really useful article. Thank you author.

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      No migrations here yet. But not as many birds either this year. Barn swallow populations here in south central ontario very small on my farm this year. Haven't been dive bombed by one mowing the lawn in more than a few years. My bird feeders are populated by mostly goldfinches this summer. Could be the plentiful rain means more food elsewhere I suppose. But, no migrations yet. Maybe fewer birds ventured this far north?

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 3 years ago from United States

      I'll put some extra water out! Lovely hub as usual, Deb.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 3 years ago from United States

      Nice photos and info my friend. whonu

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 3 years ago

      Fav pic? Great Blue Heron - wings down! lol

      He just looks so miserable it's hilarious...

      Great advice re; water for thirsty migrators..

      hard time seeing that head - for me anyway..

      hugs Debxx

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Peg, glad to hear that they are safe and sound! As you know, I had at least one here. Our temps have been cooler, and it is raining today. We've been getting plenty of rain, another good sign for things to come. It bears watching, so just have your camera with you, and wait for the others to come.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Another beautiful post, Deb. Migration, already, it is incredible but with our cooler temps here in Texas, perhaps that's the reason. This morning I stepped outside to let the dogs out around 7:00 am and directly overhead was a group of Snowy Egrets flying to the southwest. I wish I'd had my camera ready.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Billy. There's always something out there that is non-toxic, and I think many of us do a good job finding it. It's a great network.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      The eco-friendly products are handy and much-appreciated. Wonderful photos and information my friend. Happy Summer to you.


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