Thursday, March 19, 2009

Magee Marsh: Northern Shrike, Sandhill Cranes

This week (specifically March 17 and 18) there have been good numbers of waterfowl visible from the causeway north to the beach across Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Most of the readily visible birds are to the west of the causeway; they have included good numbers of Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, and Ring-necked Duck, and lesser numbers of American Black Duck, Redhead, Hooded Merganser, and several other species. Also seen on both the 17th and 18th was a Northern Shrike, probably the same individual that has been here all winter. On both days it was just to the west of the third (northernmost) pullout along the causeway (the one with the duck identification sign). The shrike was perching on large bushes out in the marsh. It spends part of its time perched conspicuously up on top, but at other times it is down out of sight in the dense thickets; if you don't see it at first, either wait a while or arrange to come back to this spot later. The shrike may leave for the north any day now, but it could remain through the first week of April.

Also seen here on March 18 was a pair of Sandhill Cranes flying across the causeway, headed west. These could be just passage migrants, but last year at least one pair spent the summer on Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, just to the west of Magee Marsh, so this could be a returning pair of summer residents.

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