March 5: Today brought an extraordinary sighting. A white-phase Long-tailed Weasel made a brief appearance in our backyard. Beautiful! Despite the bitter cold temperatures today, many Mourning Doves are in the midst of their mating rituals, filling the air with their cooing song. (Note to self: Obtain a more comprehensive field guide on Michigan Mammals ASAP!)

March 7: The American Crows are becoming bolder each day-there is one large crow in particular that enjoys intimidating the deer as they feed on the corn. Today one of the yearling fawns decided he'd had enough of this pushy bird and confronted him with snorts and stomps while the adults looked on. The crow soon abandoned the area to the deer, but only with loud protests.

We also sighted a beautiful female juvenile Pileated Woodpecker here today. She landed briefly on the log feeder, and really worked the trees over well. She still has the dark eye of the juvenile bird and her markings were simply gorgeous.

March 9: The new animal sightings continue- today brought us a long look at a beautiful, sleek Mink. It was easily 3 times as large as the Long-tailed weasel and it's fur was deep chesnut brown in color. A first for our property. Also our resident (and rare) melanistic Eastern Chipmunk came out of hiding today. We were thrilled to see it survived the winter. Michigan Birds and Natural History magazine, the state journal of record, published this article about this infamous chipmunk in their July-September 2001 edition.

March 12: Visted Nayanquing Point WA today where the air was filled with the song of many migrant birds... this marked many seasonal first sightings for Red-winged Blackbirds, Tree Sparrows, American Robins, Mute Swans and more.. Definitely heading back for an encore VERY soon.

March 14: First Sandhill Crane sighted for the season, 3 miles north. The mink made another appearance, nonchalantly walking through the backyard- all of these recent weasel sightings are intriguing, to say the least. American Crows & Mourning Doves actively mating. Also had an orange variant House Finch at the feeder briefly, what a striking bird.

March 15: Observed Red-bellied Woodpeckers mating today. We now have 2 Mink hunting the property daily and they are quite engaging to watch. Today also brought us sightings of 3 Bald Eagles (one carrying a domestic chicken in its talons) and our first seasonal sightings of Eastern Bluebirds.

March 16: The mink continue to visit the yard & today the larger of the 2 (male?) was quite bold- it came right up on the deck and walked within a few yards of my husband while he sat in the lawnchair.

March 18: The adult Northern Cardinals have returned after a long absense, and the male is filling the air with his sweet, rich mating song.

Northern Cardinal

(Recorded by C. Mead, All Rights Reserved)

Two Barred Owls were out back at dusk having what I guess was a very vocal mating display- their calls sounded like the calls of howler monkeys. Hopefully we'll be blessed to observe & listen to juvenile Barred Owls again this summer.

March 19: First seasonal sightings of Turkey Vultures & Killdeer.

March 20: More snow again & the deer are becoming quite stressed & very hungry. One of the does was able to balance long enough on her hind legs to reach into a feeder that stands over 5 ft. tall.. amazing animals and I have such great respect for their survival insticts.

The heron rookery near Prescott is very active- we counted 17 Great Blue Herons today.

March 21: Although the calendar states it's 'officially spring' we received more snow and today's high barely got above the 10 degree mark with winds gusting over 40mph.

March 22: A female Purple Finch has been visiting the feeder since March 16. These birds dispursed early last fall and it's a joy to see they've returned.

We had a Northern Shrike this afternoon near the Rifle River- it had its prey pinned down in a ditch, and was hopping up and down on it, wildly flapping its wings.

March 23: Observed 2 more Sandhill Cranes 1 mile north of home feeding in a grassy field.. also a Broad-winged Hawk, 2 Northern Harriers and a beautiful female American Kestrel were in the same general area. One adult Bald Eagle was sitting in the nest east of Rose City- only its large white head was visible. Still cold, still windy- STILL waiting for a break in the weather. This time last year we had Painted Ladies, Mourning Cloaks and Compton Tortoise Shell butterflies around the property. This weather feels more like mid-January than March.

March 24: Visited Nayanquing where we met up with good friends, but the northeast winds were brutal- many migrant ducks, geese & swans in the area and we heard/watched many flocks of Whistling (Tundra) Swans flying over last night by moonlight. We were happy to see an Eastern Bluebird sitting near the nestbox at our last home in Bay county- a good feeling to know that these wonderful birds are still returning to the nestboxes we put up over 10 years ago.

March 25: Many Common Redpoll are still here on the property, over 25 of them feeding with the huge flock of American Goldfinch today. Also sighted a male Purple Finch at the feeder- good to have them back.

March 27: We got a much needed break in the weather today, temps up in the mid-40's. Checked on another heron rookery near us, and the Great Blue Herons have arrived there too- 6 at the nests with more arriving. Sighted our first butterfly of the season near the county line, a Mourning Cloak. The mink have returned to the property after a week absense. This time the larger male left with a chipmunk dangling from it's mouth that it caught in the back yard.

March 28: Sighted our first Eastern Meadowlarks of the season today- there should be good numbers of them arriving soon around the meadows and farmland nearby, where we can sit and enjoy their beautiful songs. The American Robins came out of the woods to enjoy the birdpond for awhile.

March 29: While watching the smaller female mink hunt around the east side of the property, a beautiful Northern Goshawk swooped down and landed in a small tree not far from the house. The cold rain didn't seem to bother it in the least. What piercing eyes they have, truly one of natures' finest predators.

March 30: Spring flowers are emerging despite the low temperatures. The crocus are peeking out from the leaves.. a welcome spot of color.

March 31: Sighted our first Painted Lady butterfly on the property today- a quick flittering bit of orange & black that dissapeared into the woods.

Additional 2002 Monthly Journals: April May June July August September October November December