Monday, March 26, 2012

Morning Owl

I arrived at Pheasant Branch Conservancy early enough Sunday morning to catch the female Great Horned Owl off her nest. Because the floor of the tree cavity is recessed, I was unable to tell if there were young present. I haven't seen the male for the past few weeks, but I suspect he's close by, probably within sight and being a good sentinel. Over the past several years the pair has been pretty successful rearing young owls, but there have been a couple of failed attempts as I recall. This is the third year in a row that they’ve used the large cavity in the Cottonwood tree.

The mild weather continues to impress itself upon features of the landscape, creeping closer to the verdant greens usually associated with early May. In bloom are Virginia Bluebells, Trout Lilies, Purple Violets, and other native and non-native wildflowers. I even saw my first Dandelion of spring. Some people I know have confessed feeling worried and uneasy with this phenological craziness, while others have adopted a more devil-may-care attitude. Most everyone, however, isn’t letting the opportunity slip by to enjoy spending time outside.

This time of year it's fairly common to see Wood Ducks perched in trees along the creek corridor. Since there are more people walking the trail than usual for this time of year, I'm getting asked more frequently about the tree-perching duck.

Most ducks observed here are Mallards; a species most non-birders are familiar with, but a duck in a tree is just crazy! Ever since I saw a particularly humorous Far Side cartoon, I've taken to calling Mallards 'City Ducks.' A variety of ducks can be found at the confluence ponds at the far west end of the trail, but I’ve seen Hooded Mergansers in the creek corridor before.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Mar 25, 2012 7:45 AM - 10:45 AM
46 species

Canada Goose 3
Wood Duck 4
Mallard 6
Blue-winged Teal 1
Green-winged Teal 4
Pied-billed Grebe 13
Red-tailed Hawk 4
American Kestrel 2
American Coot 1
Sandhill Crane 3
Killdeer 1
Ring-billed Gull 1
Rock Pigeon 1
Mourning Dove 2
Great Horned Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 2
Eastern Phoebe 4
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 6
Tree Swallow 4
Black-capped Chickadee 10
Tufted Titmouse 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Brown Creeper 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 15
European Starling 2
Cedar Waxwing 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 6
Chipping Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 10
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 15
Northern Cardinal 8
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Common Grackle 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 3

All images © 2012 Mike McDowell

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