Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bird Wars

(In sorting through some miscellaneous photo folders a few weeks ago I came across these pics I shot last winter but had completely forgotten about.  I am happy to be able to share them with you now!)

 I was up in my office working one afternoon (the living room has a loft above it and my desk is in the small library at the top of the stairs) when I happened to look out the sliding doors in the living room and see this gorgeous flicker working at the suet.  We had come up with the idea of attaching a cage to the deck rail so we could secure a suet block for those birds who don't cling or hang all that well.  Hoping for Eastern Bluebirds we got everything but.  However, I was excited to see the flicker, one of my favorite birds.  Rather than risk scaring the bird away by coming down the stairs, I took some shots from the loft.

After only a few frames I saw another bird fly up.  The flicker jump down off the suet cage and confronted the interloper.

Ah ha!  A Red-bellied Woodpecker!

Much squawking and flailing of wings ensued.  The flicker flashed his bright yellow plumage.

His rival vanquished, the flicker sat and watched for a few moments to see if he'd return.

Satisfied that he had won, he went back to eating his lunch.

Timing really is everything.  To have caught this exchange was pure luck, especially considering the windows are behind me.  It's always exciting to see the birds doing something other than eating, and to actually record it is even better!

Happy New Year to you and yours!  May 2012 be the best year yet!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Artwork--Blue-grey Gnatcatcher

After taking a lot of time to get the bobcat finished I wanted to do a small piece that I could complete a little more quickly so I could feel like I'd gotten something accomplished.  I have a number of pieces ready to go at any time--I get the images ready and the main composition sketched out so when I'm ready to start another piece I have several I can choose from, depending on my mood.

"Blue & Grey", 6 x 9, colored pencil on Bristol board.
I chose the gnatcatcher because I wanted to play around with some background, and I have the time (and therefore the mental space) to experiment this time of year..  I have done very few pieces with any background at all, other than a branch or tree that the animal is sitting on or clinging to, and I've never done any with a complete background.  This image was perfect, one that I shot on the final day of the Tawas Point Birding Festival this past spring.  It was cold, windy and raining, and the overcast made it quite dark out.  I had to shoot wide open to get enough light so the result was a very shallow depth of field and a blurred background.  I like that the cross-hatching is visible in the background as it gives the piece movement, and reminds me of the driving rain this little bird had to endure.

Any feedback you'd like to give--positive or negative--would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, December 16, 2011

American Kestrel

I cannot resist birds of prey.  Striking, bold and intelligent, I find their watchful ways captivating and endearing. 

This little American Kestrel is a ward of the Howell Nature Center.  Suffering from a damaged wing and no longer able to fly he serves as an educator and entertainer for kids of all ages, including me.  Puffed up against the cold he looked twice his normal size.

The light this day was just wonderful if a little bright. 

While I watched he fanned out his tail feathers and stretched and wiggled.

I love the lines in this shot.  I may find another photo with his head in a similar position and draw this one.

What a poser!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Well this was a long time coming, and I am so glad it's done.  It's been over 20 years since I drew a bobcat and it was high time I did another.  I was looking forward to doing another cat too, as my last one was a snow leopard nearly three years ago.  I've had several people tell me already it's their favorite to date, so it was well worth the time.

A North American native, the range of this ubiquitous cat covers nearly all of the lower 48 states, down into most of Mexico and up across the border into southern Canada. There are very elusive, however, and it's not easy to catch a glimpse of one.  I have yet to see one in the wild, although I am pretty sure Lisa and I spooked one--and it spooked us--on a trail in Florida.

This particular cat is at the Howell Nature Center.  Once a pet, he was either released or escaped in autumn several years ago and eluded capture until late that winter, by which time he was nearly starved to death.  Wild animals raised in captivity may retain many of their wild attributes but one thing they don't learn is how to hunt.  So now he lives in a comfy enclosure at the nature center.  I think he was hoping I had the food cart.

I don't have a name for this piece yet, but hope to come up with something soon.  Will probably have something to do with his eyes.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Birds In Detail

Quite some time ago, over a year ago as a matter of fact, I stopped reading one of my favorite bloggers. She had been writing about the grandfather of natural history artists, John James Audubon. She'd had an opportunity to view some of his original watercolors up close and the posts were fascinating to say the least.

Then one day she started talking about style and technique. Audubon worked primarily in watercolor, and while his paintings were very realistic and finely detailed he did not attempt to paint every detail on every feather. This blogger and fellow artist then compared Audubon's work to that of another artist whose name I do not now recall who worked in acrylics. She posted an image of this other fellow's work, which I thought rather well done, and went on to publically dis him. His bird was also very realistic but apparently contained too high a level of detail for this blogger. Her comment was that if this bird showed up in her yard she would put it into rehab. She felt that there was too much detail, detail that couldn't be seen and therefore shouldn't be painted.

I was profoundly disappointed in this woman and not because my own work is highly detailed. I was appalled that she would take such a cheap shot at another artist and publically shame him and his work. Art is highly subjective and what one person hates another may love. Just because detail work is not what you enjoy or what you're good at doesn't mean that it's wrong--I simply don't believe there is a wrong and right way to make one's art. (Probably one of the reasons I never went to art school.  I wasn't interested in having someone tell me I was doing it wrong.)

Perhaps she was trying to make herself feel better about her own style of work--we often make fun of others in order to make ourselves feel superior. But whatever the case I was no longer interested in following this blogger.

I write about this now because after I got my good lens fixed I sat down behind our sliding glass doors to take pictures of the birds on the balcony. Looking over the images later I was amazed, as I have been before, at how sharp the pictures are and how much detail can be seen. At a distance birds look sleek and smooth. But up close, especially on a windy day or when they're singing, they are rumpled and fluffed, and every feather really can be seen.


So I say now to the blogger who thinks detailed art is a bad thing, or that such fine detail can't be seen, I say, perhaps you need a better camera.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Snow

We had our first snow of the season Tuesday night.  The day started with copious amounts of rain, more than two inches in some places, and it was a miserable day with temps in the mid 30's.  By evening the temperatures dipped towards freezing and the rain changed to snow.  With everything still wet from the rain the world was coated in white by Wednesday morning.

The birds, who had been hitting the feeders pretty hard all day Tuesday, returned Wednesday morning for a feast.  I am always surprised to see my feathered friends after such a nasty night.  I fear they will get frozen to a branch or encased in ice.  But they know how to take care of themselves, and after the snow they come in droves.

Female Northern Cardinal

We have a crab apple tree off the balcony and many birds perch there while waiting their turns at the feeders. It's a wonderful opportunity to watch them and get some pics.

Chipping Sparrow and House Finch

Who can resist the beautiful red bird on a branch with tiny red apples?

Male Northern Cardinal

The Goldfinches are still gorgeous, even in their drab winter plumage. This one perched on a dogwood out the side window.

Male Goldfinch

No winter morning in the north would be complete without the jays.  I know many people don't like these birds but I think they are beautiful and I admire their intelligence.

Blue Jay

Oh, how I do love winter!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Press releases are a great thing, and anyone who wants a little media attention should learn to write one.  I don't know what took me so long, but I finally did it and it landed us a two page spread with three photos in our local paper, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.

After getting a story about the mural in Traverse City in the Traverse City Record Eagle I decided to see if I could drum up some local press based on the mural.  The Traverse City story happened completely by chance--a woman from the paper was at the nature center to do an interview with one of the Conservation District's employees and just happened upon us, finishing up the mural.  We had a nice chat with her and she took some photos, one of which I was able to send in with the press release.

Two weeks or so after sending out the press release we got a call from a reporter from the Press & Argus, saying he wanted to come out and interview us!  We had just had our open house so the gallery was still put together and looking good.  We all took showers and combed our hair and got our pics taken with a really wide angle lens, which makes my head look enormous, but I don't care.

Marie, Lori and Lisa

If you'd like to read the article, follow this link

We've had a lot hits on our website thanks to this, and a few phone calls for classes, so it was well worth the effort to put the press release together.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants a little recognition for their work.  Don't know how?  Just Google "How to write a press release"!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sandhill Crane Up Close

Of all the birds out there I can definitively say that the Sandhill Crane is my favorite.  We are blessed to live in an area where they are abundant and easily accessable.  Their antics are endlessly entertaining, as gangly as they are graceful.

One of the things about sandhills that I find so fascinating are their eyes.  Orangey-red like glowing coals they outshine even the hairless red cap these birds wear.  Happy to finally have my good lens back I headed over the the Howell Nature Center the other day to photograph the coyote.  Right across from the 'yote are the sandhills, one of whom has a terribly deformed beak.  I don't know what is wrong with the other bird, but he was right up at the side of their enclosure--feeding time was near.  What a treat to be so close and be able to see such detail. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chicken Drama

Well, I promised an update on the chickens so I guess I need to get to work.  A lot has gone on in the past eight months so there is a lot to tell.

To catch up those of you who have not followed my blog for long, I will give a brief history.  (You can also go to the list of labels on the left and click on "chickens".) In April of 2008 we bought eight days-old pullets at the local feed store.  We raised them in a dog crate in the basement until they were old enough to go out to the coop, a bedraggled structure behind the house that was built by the previous owners.  We free-ranged the girls in the afternoons and they put themselves to bed each night.  All eight did splendidly, even our one-eyed chicken named Honey, and by September they were laying eggs.

The original eight, around 3 weeks old
All eight chickens made it through that first winter in that drafty, damp coop, but the following spring and summer we lost three of the hens to various ailments.  That autumn we decided to build a new coop, one that was insulated, structurally sound and had a bigger pen.  The following spring, 2010, we purchased four more pullets from the feed store, raised them in the basement and moved them to the old coop until they were big enough to introduce to the older hens.  Halfway through the summer we started hearing odd noises from the new girls.  Turns out two of them where not hens but roosters.  This was of course a problem--one rooster was OK but we couldn't keep two.  Luckily a friend had a friend who was looking for a rooster, so we sent one fellow off to a new brood and kept the other as he seemed less aggressive.  The remaining three chickens were introduced to the older hens late that summer and while the older girls were not real keen on having a young cock in their midst, they all got on fairly well.

Rhodie as a gangly adolescent--look at those legs!

So that brings us to this year.

At the start of this year we had eight chickens--seven hens and a rooster.  From our first brood we had Sister Joan, a Jersey Giant; Fancy, a bearded Americana; Marty and Emily, both Golden Comets; and Honey, some sort of mixed breed.  The new chickens consisted of Rhodie, our Rhode Island Red rooster; Maryanne, a Golden-laced Wyandotte; and Ethel, a small Americana.

Egg laying had dropped way off over the winter.  Chickens molt in the fall and do not produce eggs while they are growing new feathers. This year the older girls didn't produce at all, even after their molt.  But by April they were finally starting to lay again, with Honey leading the way.

Honey had become something of a pet to me.  She was blind in one eye, the result of an injury when she was a chick.  She was picked on by the other hens, and perhaps because of this she learned I provided some safety.  We would cuddle in the coop, me squatting and her scrunching between my knees, and I would rub her under her wings and stroke her head. She would follow me around the yard and was always the first one in line for treats.  A real mamma's girl.

The relative calm we had experienced as chicken owners was about to be broken.  The family that lives to our north, over a wooded ridge, got a bird dog, a German Short-haired Pointer, and I had seen the dog in our yard on a few occasions.  I never got around to approaching the owners about it, and I should have, though I doubt it would have done much good.  One afternoon in late April I heard an awful squawking from the back yard. At first I thought it was one of the chickens picking on Honey, but when the sound didn't stop I knew something else was up.  I went charging up the hill in my rubber boots and carrying a pick ax, to see the neighbor's dog with Honey in his mouth.  I screamed, and he ran up the hill, carrying her for a few steps before dropping her and running home.  I scooped her up and followed.  While she gasped her last breaths I berated the flustered woman who came to the door and swore I would call the cops or shoot the dog if I ever saw it on my property again.  Then I had to break Honey's neck.

Needless to say that was one of my worst days.

Emily had not been doing well for several weeks, acting very lethargic, always poofed up, and she began to decline shortly after this.  Within a few weeks we had to end her life.  I won't go into the details.

We decided at this point to get four more chicks, but we wanted specific breeds, larger breeds that could handle our now large rooster.  So in mid-May we found a "farm" in the area and purchased four chicks, two Barred Rocks and two Rhode Island Reds. We should never have bought birds from this woman.  The place was filthy, the chicks crammed into tiny incubators, and I saw one chicken in a nearby cage with conjunctivitis.  By the time we got them home they were lethargic, an a day later were blowing snot bubbles.  We put them on antibiotics for a week and they seemed to improve. We kept them quarantined in the old coop, away from the healthy birds.

Then in June, when Lori and I were in Petoskey for a school presentation, Lisa called to tell us that the dog had come again, killed Maryanne (one of our newer girls) and had chased Rhodie down the road, pulling all of his tail feathers out but not catching him.  We are pretty sure Rhodie was leading the dog away from the hens.  Lisa chased the dog home, then made the owner and his two sons dispose of the dead chicken and help search for the rest of the scattered flock.  They swore they would keep their dog in their yard.  Lisa didn't call the Sheriff so I did when I got home two days later.  It was too late for them to do anything but the officer did stop by and have a chat with the dog's owner.

By this time our other Golden Comet, Marty, was also not doing well, and we eventually had to put her down.  That's four chickens dead in less than two months. We had also stopped letting the girls out every day, worried of course for their safety.  But I hate having animals in cages, and while the coop and pen are spacious, it's still a cage, so the girls did continue to go out when someone was home.  I was trusting that the dog's owner would keep his word.

We had a show up north over the 4th of July and my mother was house sitting.  She let the hens out that evening, and near dusk heard an awful sound from behind the house.  By the time she got there, there was nothing to see but a pile of feathers, and Sister Joan was missing.  She accused the neighbor's dog of course but he swore the dog was never out of his sight. When we got home a few days later we looked for the bird but never found her.  We did find a trail of feathers, but they did not lead toward the neighbor's house.  We learned later that there was a fox den to the north of our neighbor's property, and his kids had seen kits.  We suspected Mama Fox killed Sister Joan.

At this point we were down to two hens, Fancy and Ethel, and Rhodie, with four still sick chicks in the old coop.  We had to get new antibiotics, and give the poor things shots in their breasts or thighs.  We worried about Fancy and Ethel stuck with Rhodie--they say you should have eight hens for every rooster.  We cut their outdoor time back again, and decided to try hard to be out with them to keep watch.


Again I was out of town when I got a call from Lori.  It was late July. She had been sitting on the back deck with a rifle on her lap (for the woodchuck who was digging under my studio) when the chickens walked past and down to the front of the house.  Moments later Rhodie and Ethel came running up the stairs and hid.  Fancy was no where to be found.  It was several days later as I was mowing the paths that I came across a pile of her feathers--another victim of the fox.  And so in three months we lost all five of our original brood--Fancy was the last of our original eight, and her loss was especially hard as she was a beauty of a bird and one of our best layers.

Now we had a dilemma.  One hen and one rooster was not going to work.  The new brood was getting bigger and mostly healed of their respiratory ailment, so we decided to separate Rhodie, put him in the old coop, and put the new chickens in with Ethel.  Within a week Rhodie was sick, and within three weeks so was Ethel.  Not only that, but we began hearing crowing from the new chickens, who were, we had been assured, all females.


As it turned out, three of the four new chickens where roosters.  I can't begin to describe how angry I was.  We spent a lot of time and money making these birds healthy.  The woman who we had gotten them from said if any where roos that we could bring them back for a refund.  We had way more than $5.00 a bird into them but we knew we couldn't keep them.  Rhodie was staying, there was no doubt about that, so we decided to slaughter the young roos and keep their meat.

This was an amazingly difficult thing to do. I had raised these birds, nursed them back to health. They were my friends, in the way that all pets become your friends. But we really didn't have much choice, so we pulled the birds from the coop one by one, and I thanked them, and cried, and we ended their lives. I never took any pictures of them--I must have known--but Lisa took this with her iPhone, me covered with chickens.

Me with the doomed brood #3.  Both Rocks and the Rhode Island Red in my hand were roosters.

So now we were back down to two hens--one less than four months old--and a large rooster.  I got on Craig's list and found a woman nearby who was moving and needed to give up a bunch of her birds.  These were full-grown, which by late August was really the only way to go.  We ended up buying six birds, four Barred Rocks and two Isa Browns, the latter really for the bird's benefit rather than ours.  These were some of the most bedraggled looking birds I had ever seen, and they reeked.  The house and yard were a mess, and while the birds were currently free, they had clearly been kept in very close and filthy quarters, as some of her birds still were.  They were filthy and smelled terrible.  Come to find out that she was good friends with the woman who had sold us the sick chicks back in May.  Surprise surprise.

Ethel, from brood #2
While Rhodie was segregated in the old coop we had yet another incident.  Shortly after a heavy rain had cleared out one evening, Lisa was in the kitchen and heard what she described as a baby wailing.  She went running out the door with a broom, no idea what she would find.  I was upstairs and followed a few seconds behind.  What Lisa saw was Rhodie thrashing around in the mud of the pen, then she saw the weasel that was on his back, its reddish fur blending in with Rhodie's red feathers.  It had him by the neck.  She flung the door open and the weasel let go, then ran around the pen a few times looking for the hole through which it had entered.  I arrived in time to see it scamper out.  Rhodie lay in the dirt, on his stomach, head extended, motionless.  

We stood with our hearts sinking when suddenly he lept up, bolted out of the pen, across the back yard, down the stairs and across the road into our neighbor's yard where he hid in a tangle of autumn olive, grape vine and dead branches.  We tried to coax him out but he was having none of it.  Covered in mud and blood we had no idea how badly he may have been hurt, but we had to leave him in the the shrubbery.  After dinner and nearly dark I went back to the coop to see if he had returned.  I peered inside but did not see him, but I heard a sound off to my right.  I looked around and finally spotted him perched on top of the the pen, bedraggled but apparently OK.  He let me lift him down and put him in the pen, and look him over briefly.  Except for some scratches on his comb he was intact, and he nervously entered the coop and we shut him in for the night.  We never saw the weasel again.

We are back to nine birds--the six new birds, (who haven't even all been named yet), Acorn, the lone hen from the chicks we got this spring, and Ethel and Rhodie, from last year's brood.  We introduced Rhodie after letting the new girls get acclimated, and he seems happy to have a brood to watch over again. We have seen no sign of the fox, so we have decided to let them out occasionally, but only when we're home and able to check on them frequently.  We did add on about 100 square feet of pen to the back of the coop so I feel better about it when they can't get out and range.

We had one more run in with the neighbor's dog just a few weeks ago.  Lisa looked up to see Rhodie running for his life down the driveway, wings flapping.  Once outside she saw the dog, right behind him.  I was making dinner, and Lori, who had gone to fetch Lisa, came in out of breath to tell me about the dog--she had no idea if he'd gotten any of the hens.  I went tearing out of the house and up the hill.  Lisa had chased the dog home, and was already ripping the young man at the door a new one, so I added my two cents--or more like ten bucks worth. Oh, the profanity! I think we finally put the fear of God--or the crazed artists over the hill--into these boys.  We eventually found all the hens, and once again I am pretty sure Rhodie was leading the dog away from the girls.

Three of the new Barred Rocks with Rhodie

So this afternoon I went out to get some photos of the new flock, who were in the garden eating bugs and broccoli.  While I watched, Rhodie gave his alarm call, an odd purring sound, high and urgent.  I looked up and saw a Cooper's Hawk pass over head. 

That is one bird who is dedicated to his flock.

My hero.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Open House

Just a quick post to let you all know we are having our 3rd Annual Holiday Open House/Open Studios/Book Signing here at Bear Track Studios tomorrow from 10 am to 6 pm.  If you're in the area, stop by and say hello.  We'll have work from all three Bear Girls, free refreshments and great conversation.  1877 Brandes Lane, Pinckney, MI.  734-223-8612 for more info.

I hope to be back to blogging next week.  I am long overdue for a chicken update (it's been quite the stressful year) so look for that soon.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Colors of November

We've had some mild weather here in Southeast Michigan for the past week or so (until today, anyway--it's still only 39 degrees and it's nearly noon).  We decided to take advantage of the last warm afternoon and go for a walk in the woods near our home.

It was 63 when we left the house, balmy by November standards.  The woods were pretty much bare, and the trail was covered with a deep blanket of leaves.  As we walked, wood frogs leaped from the cover of leaves, escaping our boots.  These frogs actually freeze during the winter, burrowing just under the leaf litter to hibernate.  Perhaps they were taking advantage of the warm weather to hunt for bugs.  Spring peepers could be heard throughout the woods.

Wood frog

The colors in November are subtle here, the blazing trees now mostly bare.  But color there is, if you look carefully. This leaf still holds the remnants of an earlier shower.

Big tooth aspen leaf

November challenges us to find beauty in patterns, too, like this fungus growing on the side of a downed tree.

Turkey tail fungus

 Grasses give a splash of color and texture as they die back for winter.

This fern frond stood out against a backdrop of dead leaves, moss and pine needles.

Milkweed was exploding across the small meadow, and the air smelled of dried goldenrod.

Common milkweed

This late in the season much of the color that remains is low to the ground, like this tiny oak sapling.  The fuchsia of its veins is startling in this dull landscape.

Mosses drape themselves over every available surface, enjoying the damp, cool weather.  There are
12,000 species of moss, so I am not going to try to id this!

 A white oak leaf rests on a dead log.

Lisa found this leaf, one of the last blazes of color in the woods.  We couldn't find the tree it came from, so it must have blown in from elsewhere.  I couldn't resist putting it on a background of moss, a harbinger of the coming holidays.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hawk Mountain

 Last week I took a road trip with my mother to visit her sister, who lives on the east side of Pennsylvania.  I had less than 24 hours to get ready to go, having gotten home from Traverse City and the mural job on Sunday mid-day, then leaving Monday morning for PA.  While I was ready to be home I was still excited about this trip as my Aunt Terry and her husband Joe live about 45 minutes from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.  OK, I was excited to see them too, and to have four days of doing pretty much nothing (we played cards a lot), but to be able to combine this visit with a trip to Hawk Mountain near the peak of migration was a chance I would not pass up.

Tuesday was a bright sunny but breezy day.  Wednesday held a chance of rain (which of course didn't materialize, at least at Terry's house) so we donned many layers and drove out to the mountains.

View from River of Rocks overlook

Hawk Mountain became the world's first raptor sanctuary in 1938.  In the early 20th century many individuals as well as governments apparently believed all predatory animals were in direct competition with us, and people were actually encouraged to kill raptors on sight.  The mountain ridge that includes Hawk Mountain is a major migratory route for birds of prey, who fly en-masse above its tree-lined slopes every autumn.  Hunters would line the ridge and shoot as many birds as they could.  Thousands and thousands of birds were slaughtered.

Enter Rosalie Edge.  A conservationist from New York, she saw photographs taken by young ornithologist Richard Pough, who had travelled to the area and walked the woods, collecting the bodies of the dead birds to record images of the slaughter.  In 1934 she leased 1,400 acres that included what the hunters called Hawk Mountain, banned hunting, then opened the area the following year to the public to come witness the migration.  The property was purchased in 1938 and given to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association.

Who says one person can't make a difference.

Climb to the North Lookout

It was a gorgeous climb up to the observation area.  There were several groups of school kids, one of them from Philadelphia, who were having fun climbing on the rocks along the trail.

North Lookout

The official observer is stationed at the North Lookout.  This person provides the official tally for the day, and calls out approaching birds to the rest of the bird watchers.  We settled in a rather shady and breezy spot to wait and watch.  On the top of a pole was a taxidermy owl.  I was puzzled, as owls are usually used to keep unwanted birds away, but I later learned that this was to draw in younger, less experienced raptors who would come swooping in to chase the threat away.

West side of North Lookout, with stuffed owl "lure"

The birds seemed to be staying primarily to the north-west side of the ridge, riding the updraft from the cold west wind.  I was not quite prepared when we arrived, and didn't have my longer lens out, thinking the birds would be too far away to get any reasonable shots of them.  Thanks to this I missed a Bald eagle who passed quite close to where we sat.  I was ready though when this Red-tail soared past.

Red-tailed hawk
I wish that I had the counts for the day we were there but their website only has listing through October 4th.  (For the annual count to date, click here.) What I do recall is that it was peak Sharp-shinned hawk migration--every other bird was a "sharpie", a Blue jay-sized raptor that hunts primarily small birds. 

Sharp-shinned hawk

There were also a lot of vultures, like this Black vulture.  A nice treat since we don't seem to have them here in Southern Michigan.

Black vulture

We sat for about an hour, had a snack and tried to stay warm.  Just as we were getting ready to leave another Red-tailed hawk flew directly overhead.  I nearly fell over backwards trying to get shots of it.  I would guess we saw 30 to 40 birds in the hour we spent there. 

Red-tail two

 It was well worth the hike up and back.

Hawk Mountain in Autumn