On Saturday, February 20, 2016, a small group of Washtenaw Audubon members (and friends) took advantage of the extremely pleasant weather to visit Kensington Metropark to see what birds might be about. First stop was the Heron Rookery where a lone Great Horned Owl hunkered down on a nest.

Through the winter, the Rookery had been visited off and on by a pair of Bald Eagles and many birders wondered if they might be setting up shop and were curious whether or not this might affect the returning Blue Herons. While it’s still a little early in the year to see if this comes to pass, today the Eagles were absent and the owl seemed more than content with its location.

The other highlight, besides the resident and expected flocks of Sandhill Cranes and Wild Turkeys, was the nice collection of waterfowl. A lot of the park was still iced over, but where there was open water, there were ducks, geese and swans. Highlights included 8-10 Tundra Swans mixed in with the Mutes, many Gadwall, a fine-looking Northern Pintail, displaying Common Goldeneyes throwing their heads back in excitement, Bufflehead (we discussed the unusual name for this duck, and according to Wikipedia, it is named because of its oddly shaped buffalo-ish type head), Common Mergansers pretending to be Loons (when seen at a distance) and one Hooded Merganser who tried to look as un-hooded as he could.

Great day to be out! Hopefully, the rest of you were able to take advantage of it and enjoy the early birdsong. I heard my first Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds of the year. Spring is coming (despite what the Starks may claim). In a few weeks (March 12 to be exact), Washtenaw Audubon will lead another field trip to Kensington. This will give us a good opportunity to see the changing of the seasons and whether or not the nesting owl sticks around!

By Bryn Martin

Common Goldeneye by (

Knipa / Common Goldeneye
) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons