Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Every shade of Green

An American Redstart belts out his song.

American Redstarts and Chestnut-sided Warblers are the dominant wood warblers at Pheasant Branch Conservancy right now, which signals only a few weeks remain of spring migration in southern Wisconsin. From lime to emerald, most every shade of green is represented in the spring woods. It may not be quite as breathtaking as fall's fiery colors, but it has a newness and crispness that's unique during the month of May. By June, the darker summer greens will begin to take over the forest landscape.

A day ends at Pheasant Branch Conservancy.

Though there remains more birding to be done before the nesting season begins in earnest, this spring will be fondly remembered for breathtaking views of warblers that came down to the ground to forage because of cold weather. Some species were present in unusually high numbers. I don't recall seeing so many Baltimore Orioles, Canada Warblers, Mourning Warblers, Wilson's Warblers, and Blackpoll Warblers. It isn't that there are more of these particular species overall, they've been stalled and more concentrated on account of unsuitable weather for migration.

It shouldn't go unrecognized that this spring's harsh weather probably culled flocks somewhat. Personally, I saw no evidence of birds so weak they were unable to forage, but for injured or sick birds, working extra hard for food probably wasn't an option. As I write, the early morning temperature is only in the mid thirties. I just set out fresh grape jelly for the orioles and nectar for the hummingbirds - the feeders became busy within seconds. It's a small role to play and a bird can't express gratitude for such gifts the way we do, but they still seem pretty relieved to have a convenient meal waiting for them at the start of their day.


All images © 2011 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the update, Mike. I was hoping to see the full leaf-out at Pheasant Branch before leaving town, but it didn't quite make it. It looks gorgeous. I'll be sure to make at least one more stop while I'm back in Madison this weekend.