Monday, June 20, 2011

Spring Ends

Late spring woods.

For the final weekend of spring I stayed close to home and birded a few places around the Madison area. Birding mostly by ear, Saturday evening I biked the entire trail system of Pheasant Branch and came up with 59 species. I discovered several Marsh Wrens singing at a cattail marsh on the far west end of the confluence ponds; a pleasant surprise as this isn't a species I often encounter at the conservancy. Other birds included an American Redstart, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Indigo Buntings, several Dickcissels, Eastern Kingbirds, and Eastern Meadowlarks.

On Sunday, Dottie, Sylvia, and I visited a couple of spots to check up on the breeding and territory status of a few previously seen warblers. Conditions felt tropical and a variety of interesting mushrooms were popping up from the moist forest floor. In some areas the trails were covered with tiny toads, so we had to be careful where we stepped.

Prothonotary Warbler scans for bugs.

We were thrilled to see that the Prothonotary Warbler pair were carrying fecal sacs out of their nest box. Most of the time the male was perched above us in the branches to sing and keep keeping an eye on the female as she caught caterpillars and other insects to feed her young. During song breaks, the male occasionally joined in on the hunt and returned to the nest box with juicy green caterpillars. While we were watching the warblers we also observed a pair of Green Herons catch and eat tadpoles while a mother Wood Duck and her ducklings paddle by.

Hooded Warbler pauses between songs.

We returned to Hoyt Park to check in on the Kentucky Warbler but failed to relocate it. However, as soon as we arrived I heard a singing Hooded Warbler very close to the playground. It only took a few minutes for us to locate the bird and got wonderful views of it. While Dottie and Sylvia continued to watch the Hooded Warbler, I walked the trails in search of the Kentucky to no avail. However, a birder friend of mine told me he found it later on in the day, so we at least know it's still there.

False Solomon's Seal

All images © 2011 Mike McDowell


  1. I'm still really enjoying your posts, Mike.
    Beautiful images! Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Beautiful pictures, as usual. You've inspired me to learn more about the forest residents here--I have the Sibley field guide to birds of western north america (on your recommendation), and tomorrow I'm going to venture out onto the mountain with binoculars!