Birding in Calhoun County and beyond
At the end of May I did some traveling around the U.P., with just a little bit of birding on the side. Whitefish Point, will definitely be a place to visit in the future. It was relatively quiet while I was there. A late Rough-legged Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk were individual highlights. Large groups of Blue Jays were quite the sight, with well over 120 while I was there. The two-tracks off-road showed off large numbers of Ovenbirds. Porcupine Mountains gave me eye-level Common Raven, and a migrating juvenile Broad-winged Hawk. Brockway Mountain gave me a view of Merlin, from above!
The highlight however was near Good Hart. On May 30th, while walking the shoreline, I saw a small group of swallows flying parallel to the shore. I decided to snap some pics, and focused on a swallow that looked very much like a Cliff Swallow. I have very few good photos of Cliff Swallows, so I was hoping to add to that pitiful number.
Here is my write up on this bird on eBird describing it:
Initially passed off as a Cliff Swallow due to the pale rump. I noticed when I looked at the preview on my camera I couldn’t see the white on the forehead. I dismissed that as just a matter of the angle or size of screen, but still found it curious.
I finally managed to look on a large screen and the forehead is clearly “chestnut” like the throat. Too much blue coloring on the head for Cave or Southwestern Cliff, and then I see the tail has a definite fork to it. Cave and Cliff would never show that.
Longer pointed wings like Barn
Slightly chunkier body like Cliff
Small forked tail that is too small for Barn, too long and forked for Cliff
Dark forehead that is like Barn
Slight white collar like Cliff
Pale rump like Cliff
Larger blue crown and face than Cliff, but not as much as Barn
Primaries and secondaries underwing that look to be darker like Barn
Cleaner undertail coverts more like Barn
Has some orange wash along he flanks that would be more like Barn
Matches up pretty close to accepted Barn x Cliff when searching on eBird media.
This would be the first report of this mix to be in Michigan. There are less than 15 report on eBird for this hybrid species. Some of those are close enough they could be the same bird. A little over a week prior one was reported East of Detroit. I wouldn't think this would be the same bird though. This is by far the rarest bird I have ever found, or likely every will find. It doesn't count on the official "list", but it is a bird I will never forget finding.
First Michigan Barn x Cliff Swallow (hybrid)
I did get some decent shots of other birds while in the area, but none of them as great as the above bird. Next up the June birds.
My exploits in my latest passion, Birding...not Bird-watching;-)