Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Going Nutty for Birding



For the past three days I’ve been working the early shift. This means leaving home just as the sun is coming up and leaving work as the sun is going down. About the only birding I’ve been able to do is from my car during my commute. Birding may very well constitute an addiction, as I can sense a craving to be on snow-covered trails on a long walk through frosted woods. Tomorrow my shift begins at 11:00 a.m. and my plan is to spend a few hours exploring the stream corridor section of Pheasant Branch to see if Carolina Wrens are still there. In any case, I’m sure to see a Tufted Titmouse and they’re always a joy to watch. I’ll also check on the Barred Owls, as I haven’t seen them since spring.

As far as “commute birding” goes, I continually see a Northern Shrike as I drive past Pheasant Branch Conservancy’s prairie restoration area. I’m regularly seeing a Northern Harrier along Woodland Drive near Waunakee and the flocks of Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings have dispersed with the fresh snowfall. The same is true for the mixed-flock I’ve been watching along Balzer Road. All three species are still present but more scattered along my 6-mile route to Middleton. I’m always on the lookout for a Snowy Owl, but no luck so far, though they’re being seen all over Wisconsin at present.

On Monday morning I saw an American Kestrel perched on a fence post near the intersection of Balzer Road and Pheasant Branch Road. At work, a Cooper’s Hawk has been making a regular appearance in front of our store, sending several dozen House Sparrows and a few Dark-eyed Juncos underneath cars. So far I haven’t seen it take one, but I’m sure it isn’t sticking around just to scare them away!

So in local birding news, there isn’t much to share. But if you’ve not yet read the Kirtland’s Warbler / Brown-headed Cowbird series on the Bootstrap Analysis blog, it’s definitely worth checking out.

White-breasted Nuthatch image © 2005 Michael McDowell

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