My apologies for such a dreary post--just a list--but perhaps in a few years this inventory will provide a few minutes of diversion. This is the list of birds that my girlfriend Alison and I observed on our float down the Manistee River from the Deward area to No. 19 Rd near Mesick from July 4-7, 2012.
Canada Goose—small numbers, mostly in scattered family groups incapacitated by molt. One such group that I splashed with my paddle scrambled up the bank in panic, including one bird that flapped and flopped and fell backwards.
Wood Duck—seen daily, but very sparsely. Probably fewer than 15 for the entire float.
Mallard—common. Many family groups, ranging from fully grown “ducklings” to very young, recently hatched broods.
Hooded Merganser—not seen until the second day of the trip, but after that very common on the lower part of the river (past Sharon Bridge).
Common Merganser—few; about a dozen total
Horned Grebe—surely the most unexpected bird of the float, a singleton paddling around the river several miles upstream from the CCC bridge. A Horned Grebe on such a small shallow river would be unusual at any season, but this species is unprecedented in this part of the world in the middle of the summer. It was in full alternate plumage and appeared to be in good health.
Great Blue Heron—surprisingly scarce, only three or four.
Green Heron—a handful (half a dozen?) scattered along the entire length of the river. Most of them demonstrated their well-deserved nickname “Fly-up-the-Creek” by flushing ahead of the canoe many times before finally turning around.
Turkey Vulture—two or three
Osprey—one, on the final day of the float
Bald Eagle—five, all adults. On the second day, I chucked a rubber duckie that I had found in some jetsam at a perched bird, much to its indignation.
Sharp-shinned Hawk—one bombed across the river on our second day
Red-shouldered Hawk—a few (5) heard calling from along the river
Broad-winged Hawk—half a dozen or so
Spotted Sandpiper—common. We spotted three young families near the end of our float on the third day. We paused for the first family and captured one of the very young chicks running around at the edge of the river.
Solitary Sandpiper--one, an early migrant, flushed from a mudbank on our second day.
American Woodcock—two. Oddly, one was still displaying at the CCC campground. One flew by our canoe at dusk in the last mile or two of the last day.
Herring Gull—Alison saw one; I remain skeptical
Mourning Dove—No comment
Yellow-billed Cuckoo—one, on the last day.
Black-billed Cuckoo—one calling in the middle of the night at the CCC campground.
Great Horned Owl—a fledgling begging around midnight on the first day (i.e., night) of the float near the headwaters.
Barred Owl—three families, the first one seen and photographed shortly downstream from the CCC campground on the second day.
Common Nighthawk—a few heard at dusk most days. A large group seen flycatching high over the river in the late afternoon of the second day.
Eastern Whip-poor-will—heard every night, with impressive numbers (at least a dozen) heard in the few miles we floated on the first night. We even spotlighted one perched in a pine at the river’s edge.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird—only a few.
Belted Kingfisher—extremely common. At least seventy or eighty seen over the course of the trip. We noted several nests farther down on the last two days of the float in the high sandy banks in that area.
Red-headed Woodpecker—Alison saw one during our dinner break on the second day; several miles later we both heard one.
Red-bellied Woodpecker—two or three in the last quarter of the trip.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker—abundant. At evening on the second day, we saw one perched on a telephone pole drumming on a metal casing, seeming to gloat over its superior volume.
Pileated Woodpecker—surprisingly scarce; only a couple heard during the entire trip
Eastern Wood-Pewee—very common
Least Flycatcher—a single singing bird just downstream from the CCC bridge
Eastern Phoebe—modest numbers, particularly around bridges and cabins
Great Crested Flycatcher—fairly common; perhaps 10 or 12 a day.
Eastern Kingbird—small numbers. Most numerous on the first day.
Yellow-throated Vireo—a single singing bird on the second day.
Blue-headed Vireo—singing birds were fairly common, particularly around Red Pine plantations
Red-eyed Vireo—irritatingly abundant
American Crow—just a couple heard low down on the last day
Common Raven—heard every day, but sparsely enough that every single one was enjoyed and appreciated.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow—small numbers in the last quarter of the float where there were sandy banks for them to nest in.
Tree Swallow—only a few, nearly all in the upper reaches of the float.
Tufted Titmouse—one or two pretty far downstream on the second day in an area with lots of deciduous trees.
Red-breasted Nuthatch—common wherever there were conifers (i.e., most of the float)
White-breasted Nuthatch—present the whole way
Brown Creeper—scattered small numbers (perhaps 10 total), particularly in areas with lots of spruce
House Wren—mostly limited to areas that had lots of cabins
Winter Wren—we heard singing birds every day, but in small numbers—perhaps twenty total?
Golden-crowned Kinglet—a few
Eastern Bluebird—one or two in the upper reaches
Veery—two singing birds
Wood Thrush—just a couple
Gray Catbird—not everywhere; only two for the whole float
Brown Thrasher—one chipping fella on the morning of the third day
European Starling—a flyover flock of about fifty birds late in the evening on the second day ruined our fantasy that we would go the entire trip without seeing any.
Louisiana Waterthrush—a chipping bird far downstream on the third day was almost surely this species judging from the habitat.
Northern Waterthrush—about two singing birds mid-way through the float
Black-and-white Warbler—scattered singing birds along the whole float; perhaps 8 or 9 total?
Nashville Warbler—very common, particularly in the upper reaches of the river.
Mourning Warbler—fairly common, particularly in the lower reaches of the river; we heard probably fifteen on the third day.
American Redstart—common on the second and third days of the float
Cape May Warbler—three singing males; two in the upper reaches on the first day (Kalkaska County) and one near the end of the float (Wexford County)
Northern Parula—one singing bird on the second day
Blackburnian Warbler—three or four singing birds, mostly in the upper reaches.
Pine Warbler—abundant wherever pines were, which was along most of the float
Yellow-rumped Warbler—common; several dozen total
Black-throated Green Warbler—very common, though oddly we heard none north of M-72.
Canada Warbler—just one or two singing birds
Chipping Sparrow—we had two subspecies of Chipping Sparrows…cabin lawn Chipping Sparrows, and Red Pine plantation Chipping Sparrows
Field Sparrow—two singing birds
Song Sparrow—everywhere, kinda
Lincoln’s Sparrow—only one, a singing bird in a boggy area north of M-72
Swamp Sparrow—small numbers of singing birds in marshy areas
White-throated Sparrow—lots of peabodiers, mostly in boggy areas (e.g., between 612 and M-72)
Dark-eyed Junco—a few here and there
Scarlet Tanager—very common in the last third or so of the float. Prior to that, very sparse.
Northern Cardinal—small numbers (about five) near the end of the float
Rose-breasted Grosbeak—surprisingly uncommon, at least in comparison with the Ausable…maybe ten or a dozen a day
Red-winged Blackbird— common around marshy areas…otherwise, not common
Common Grackle—abundant on the first day (especially north of M-72), but very few/none seen later
Baltimore Oriole—here and there
Purple Finch—small numbers (20 total), including birds visiting cabin feeders
Pine Siskin—one or two flyovers heard
American Goldfinch—very commonEvening Grosbeak—small numbers (8ish?)