I was just getting in my car when my cell phone rang. My neighbor, Darrin O'Brien, was calling to say that he had White-winged Crossbills in his yard. I drove over and arrived at his driveway in time to see a stunning male bird perched in the sun at the peak of a spruce tree top-heavy with small pine cones. While I fumbled with my camera, this bird flew away. A couple of other birding neighbors arrived and Darrin's wife, Julie Craves, joined the gathering. For approximately 30 minutes we stood around and watched and listened as a flock of approximately 26 birds flew in and out of sight, often landing in the same tree where I first spotted the male crossbill.
The crossbills' flocking style is fun to watch and they are very vocal. Before they are even in view, you can hear them coming. The arrival of White-winged Crossbills was an exciting moment for us Dearborn birders.
From the crossbills in Darrin's and Julie's yard I drove to Belle Isle, possibly my favorite close-to-home birding spot. I went with one bird in mind - always a treat to see. I had to call another Dearborn birder, Jim Fowler, to find this little Saw-whet Owl. Even when Jim directed me to the exact tangles, I did not see him. Another birder who joined me stepped back a little and looked with a new angle. "Oh, I see him," he said.
As late afternoon approaches early dusk, this photo of a once very ornate, but now completely decrepit Belle Isle building, offers a suggestion of how beautiful Belle Isle once was and now typifies the long-running decline of Detroit. I think it's a former zoo building and it's one of my favorite buildings on the island. The building has a courtyard where maintenance vehicles are now stored. Curiously, it also makes me like Belle Isle all the more.