In Search of Loons - 28 Mar 2024

The morning started clear and calm. Though temps were barely at 30F the lack of wind made for a pleasant walk at Lake Erie Metropark. I was here to look for Common Loons that had been reported a day earlier; they are currently moving through the Great Lakes Region and I was hoping to see some near the fishing pier at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. So, why am I here?

My trip to the refuge was cut short by a stopped train on Vreeland Rd. so I opted to head to Lake Erie Metropark first. Parking at the boat launch I scanned the channel in front of the hawk watch and south to Lake Erie but only saw scattered Bufflehead (6) and Lesser Scaup (15). A Carolina Wren was singing at the edge of the parking lot along with a pair of Song Sparrows and a a half-dozen Red-winged Blackbirds.

As I walked the trail south of the hawk watch I heard the distinctive whinny of a Sora coming from the marsh to my right. Half-whinny. It would turn out to be a European Starling doing a nice imitation. 

I spotted a pair of Common Loons out on the water several hundred yards from the 2nd bridge. A half-dozen Horned Grebes were swimming nearby, but everything was deeply back-lit by the rising Sun. I would have to settle for some record digiscoped images.

A pair of Bufflehead were swimming in the backwaters of the inlet and were nicely illuminated by the morning Sun. They scattered, though, so I had to settle for photos of the male taking flight.

I attempted to call in a Winter Wren by playing back it's chip-chip notes, but managed to call in a pair of Song Sparrows that reacted, instead. They posed nicely in the morning Sun, so I was happy for the consolation.

Lake Erie Metropark, Wayne, Michigan, US
Mar 28, 2024 8:30 AM - 9:10 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
Checklist Comments:     Clear, calm, 30F. Trail south of boat launch.
12 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  8
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  6
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)  12
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  8
Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)  6
Common Loon (Gavia immer)  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)  1
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)  1
Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)  2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  12
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  6

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

My next stop was the Refuge. As I drove in I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk perched next to the road on the passenger side of the car. Though back-lit, I decided to make a U-turn and try to photograph it from the car on the way back. When I turned around, however, it was already gone. So, I turned around again and headed to the fishing pier where I spotted one Common Loon on the Detroit River but too far from the pier to photograph.

I spotted the Red-tailed Hawk in a tree to my left on the way out and stopped to photograph it from inside the car. It had caught a Vole and was just starting to eat it when I arrived, so I didn't stay long. I drove off leaving it to feed.

When I got home I noticed it was a banded bird. I could make out the number "0680" and "" on the silver band. No auxillary band was present, so I attempted to ID it at the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory. So far I have been unable to connect to the website...

Detroit River IWR--Refuge Gateway (Humbug Marsh), Wayne, Michigan, US
Mar 28, 2024 9:00 AM - 9:20 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.5 mile(s)
3 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  3
Common Loon (Gavia immer)  1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1     juvenile w/ fresh-caught vole and band on right leg (silver w/ number "0680" only visible.

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (