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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Treasures of Algonac: Cerulean Warbler, Indigo Bunting and Red-eyed Vireo

[Algonac State Park, MI. May 2014]

Bordering the province of Ontario, Canada, on its East, Algonac State Park's major attraction is made possible by virtue of its location on the St. Clair River which affords excellent opportunity in "viewing freighters of the world" (see Michigan DNR site).

However, besides (what must be incredibly exciting to water transport lovers) freighter-viewing, Algonac also offers excellent opportunity for bird observation by virtue of a mix of habitat that yielded the following signature species:
  • Cerulean Warbler
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Ovenbird
With an estimated count of just 1,000 birds in the entire state of Michigan, the Cerulean Warbler is a rare breeder in the state. Its rarity coupled with its stunning looks makes any observation of this declining species especially exciting.

Cerulean Warbler seen at Algonac State Park

Identified as a species of special conservation concern (the Cerulean has suffered the steepest decline of all US wood warbler species), this tiny 4.5" warbler requires riparian forest for its breeding habitat. And it is precisely the loss of such habitat that is contributing to its dismal population contraction.

Fortunately, Red-eyed Vireos are faring much better -- this is an abundant bird with a global population approaching 200 million.

Red-eyed Vireo seen at Algonac State Park

Not only is the Red-eyed Vireo a prolific species, it is also a prolific songster -- it has been recorded singing over 22,000 songs in 14 hours. Deservedly, the monotonous, repetitive and incessant singing of the Red-eyed Vireo has earned it the nickname "the preacher".

Indigo Bunting seen at Algonac State Park

Every Spring, we are richer because of a blue invasion of 80-million of these delightful buntings that come from Central America to the Eastern US. Favoring shrubby and weedy clearings, the Indigo Bunting is a sparrow-sized bird with a silver conical bill and brilliant cyan plumage (in the male, the female is a drab brown).

Other species observed included Eastern Towhee:

and Ovenbird:

While Spring migration is an unparalleled avian spectacle, the breeding season should not be underestimated for the birding possibilities it affords -- a fact underscored by venues such as Algonac State Park.

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