Saturday morning, Ben Warner, Andy Newman, Heather Raymond and I ventured out of our motel in Sault Ste. Marie to begin a fantastic weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After cruising some back roads we eventually arrived at the Dunbar Forest feeders which hosted hundreds, maybe thousands of redpolls and siskins. After a few minutes of scanning we eventually found this Hoary Redpoll resting above the feeders.
There are two subspecies of Hoary Redpoll and there is no doubt this is the Greenland form, C. h. hornemanni.
They breed in the very high arctic of Greenland and Canada and differ from C. h. exilpes by being extremely pale.
When we were done scanning through the hoards of redpolls, siskins and Pine Grosbeaks we headed to Pickford to find one of the Northern Hawk-Owls that have been present. It didn’t take long until we found one along M-48 in someone’s front yard.
I wonder if the home owners have any idea just how lucky they are to have a Northern Hawk-Owl hanging around their yard.
After loads of pictures, we headed west to Hulbert Bog to look for Gray Jays and Boreal Chickadees. Among the dozen or so Black-capped Chickadees that came into our pishing, a single Boreal Chickadee came in briefly and vanished just as fast. No Gray Jays were found but constant flocks of White-winged Crossbills and a single Red Crossbill entertained us instead.
We headed back east to Rudyard where a few Snowy Owls have been present for most of the winter. Luck was still with us as we watched three Snowy’s from one spot including this one.
The rest of day was spent driving around adding a few more trip birds such as Northern Shrike and Merlin among others. At 5:30pm we drove to Hay Lake Road where a Great Gray Owl was recently discovered. Through moderate snow, Ben spotted the owl off in the distance just before it flew towards the road. Here is Ben’s shot of ‘the ghost’.
Sunday was spent birding the feeders at Dunbar Forest again. Besides two more Hoary Redpolls of the C. h. exilpes form we had this leucistic Pine Siskin:
Before I knew it, we had to start heading home from an awesome weekend of boreal birding. If you haven't been up to the upper peninsula yet, I highly recommend it.