Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Settling into Summer

Grasshopper Sparrow with ... a grasshoper!

While a few migratory bird species are just getting started, some will soon disperse. In fact, Common Grackles are already forming flocks. Yellow Warblers begin to clear out of their breeding territories mid July. Species with multiple broods will continue producing young throughout summer. A bird carrying food (like this Grasshopper Sparrow) can infer the presence of young, but it might also mean courtship feeding. I highly suspect young, though, because it was particularly concerned with keeping an eye on me – perhaps being cautious I wouldn't follow where it was bringing the meal in order to protect the nest. I got the picture and left so it could get back to work without having to worry about me.

Sedge Wren's bill is quicker than the eye!

During two hours of birding yesterday, I tallied 64 species at Pheasant Branch Conservancy, 8 of which were sparrows, 5 swallows, and 3 wrens. The lower-mandible of the a Sedge Wren moves so fast while singing that it's nearly impossible to freeze its action even when photographing them under good lighting conditions. We're a little low on Sedge Wren numbers, but I think more will arrive soon. Actually, I think it's the anomaly when they're in high numbers at the prairie in late May. Like Pheasant Branch, Pope Farm Park tends to experience a surge in Sedge Wren numbers near the end of June or early July. Young Sedge Wrens are among the most curious birds I've ever encountered. It's not uncommon for them to come within a few feet when inspecting me for threat-level. One move, however, and they quickly retreat deep into the grass and wildflowers.

Pasture Rose

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Jun 21, 2011 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
64 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Solitary Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Marsh Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2011 Mike McDowell


  1. Wow..all those species at Pheasent Branch? How many acres is it??

  2. Pete,

    It's 500 acres. The variety of habitat attracts a lot of birds; oak savanna, prairie, hardwood forest, creek, ponds, marsh, sedge meadow, etc.


  3. It gives me a very pleasant feeling of recognition to read that at the other side of the ocean a photographing birder, i.e. birding photographer, does recognizes his limits and takes care not to disturb birds feeding their young.