Broad-winged Hawk at Pheasant Branch
Northerly winds and storms hindered bird migration into southern Wisconsin over the weekend, so I didn't spend much time at the conservancy. I walked the trial yesterday in the rain, but found only a single Yellow-rumped Warbler. On Friday I was thrilled to find my first Broad-winged Hawk of spring. A few times during my life I've been fortunate to spot large kettles of migrating Broad-winged Hawks soaring on thermals (a remarkable sight), but typically I spot only a few of these semi-secretive hawks during spring.
Though migration has been somewhat stalled, we've experienced an early leaf-out here. It's going to be tough searching through the canopy of leaves for songbirds; birding by ear will be utterly essential this May. I'm growing anxious for the return of more warblers. So far I've had Yellow-rumped, Palm, Pine, and Louisiana Waterthrush. By the end of this week, I'm anticipating the arrival of Black-and-White, Black-throated Green, Orange-crowned, and Nashville Warblers.
Having my prognostications met in nature in no way diminishes significance and meaning of the experience when greeting a morning choir of birds. In fact, I feel relieved whenever it does, though I always enjoy nature's surprises and mysteries. Each and every bird that calls or sings within earshot counts for something, whether the sheer joy of hearing a song I haven't heard for a year, a banding code quickly scribbled in my notebook, or a veritable piece of scientific data I'll enter into eBird. Birding cultivates good observation skills as much as it grows respect for all things wild - habits, habitats, and an elevated appreciation for what it must be like to be a wild creature that can fly.
Location: Pheasant Branch
Observation date: 4/23/10
Number of species: 38
Great Horned Owl
Broad-winged Hawk © 2010 Mike McDowell