Monday, June 04, 2007

Early June Birding

Kentucky Warbler

I visited Baxter's Hollow in the Baraboo Hills early Sunday morning – a very special natural area for birds. Over 80 bird species nest in Wisconsin's largest (5,000-acre) southern deciduous forest of the hills. Though the light looked great for photography when we left home, it clouded out by the time I arrived and a thunderstorm was approaching from the southwest. I was definitely a bit optimistic about my digiscoping chances, but the outing was accepted as an auditory exercise in birdsong identification. Nearly all birds I encountered were heard and not seen.

Moments after I arrived, Mark, Dottie and Sylvia joined me and together we walked and listened. We heard a Barred Owl calling in the distance, Hooded Warblers, many Ovenbirds and we inadvertently startled a Yellow-billed Cuckoo – all those wonderful sounds emanating from birds that skillfully eluded our hopeful eyes. The songs are diagnostic and it's still nice knowing such incredible diversity is present.

Baxter's is a veritable jungle this time of year with plenty of mosquitoes to compliment the experience. Even the best binoculars are impractical under such dense leaf cover, leaving us to rely solely on our ability to identify bird species by song; one of the first heard was a Kentucky Warbler. One of the few birds we actually got to see an Acadian Flycatcher perched in the middle of a broken branch.

Acadian Flycatcher

In early June there is still quite a lot of bird song, but it won't be long and even that will begin to subside as they become busy with raising young. Many birds continue to sing throughout summer, but subdued and with less frequency. Fall migration begins in just a few weeks for some species - the first warblers begin heading out by mid July.

As the storm moved in, the temperature quickly dropped and many of the birds were abruptly quieted. The rumbling thunder and darkening skies sent us to our cars and we called it a day. I'm sure once the rain subsided the hollow erupted with the incredible chorus of song once again.

Great Blue Heron
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Acadian Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Winter Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Baltimore Oriole

All images © 2007 Mike McDowell

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