Monday, May 27, 2013

Late May at Baxter's Hollow

Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager had been singing throughout the morning from the highest points of the forest canopy. As he changed perches, a chance meal in the form of a bright green caterpillar would interrupt his song, but only momentarily. Perhaps the tanager was already aware of the small pools of water near the base of the tree trunks or maybe he came upon them purely by chance.

Taking a longer break from his song, he moved down through the branches and made is way toward the forest floor. The pools were so calm they appeared as mirrors reflecting images of the leaves skyward. They beckoned the tanager to move in even closer. The invitation was too great to ignore and his descending flights from branch to branch became more deliberate and precise with intent.

I didn't see the tanager bathe, but witnessed the theatrical preening that followed. The rest is how I imagined it before human eyes were fixed upon the bird. Birders crave these moments and capturing it in a photograph preserves the memory of a great day of birding at Baxter's Hollow in the Baraboo Hills.

Nodding Trillium

Most songbirds were heard only. This is how it is by late May at Baxter's Hollow. Leaves conceal thrushes, flycatchers, vireos, and warblers, but at least colorful wildflowers are visible near your feet. If you know the behavior of the bird behind the song, then you're likely to appreciate your chances of seeing it. A Winter Wren in the woods on the opposite side of Otter Creek? Forget it. Listen for a few moments and move on.

You'll also pause for the voices of Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Canada Warblers, or the haunting calls of a Pileated Woodpeckers, but you're unlikely to see them. If you're lucky, though, you might catch a glimpse of a Veery, Ovenbird, or Acadian Flycatcher. Of the fifty or so bird species that were detected by song, fewer than half were ultimately seen.



Baxter's Hollow SNA, Sauk, US-WI
May 26, 2013 7:00 AM - 10:30 AM
51 species

Great Blue Heron 
Turkey Vulture 
Mourning Dove 
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 
Barred Owl 
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 
Downy Woodpecker 
Pileated Woodpecker 
Eastern Wood-Pewee 
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 
Acadian Flycatcher 
Alder Flycatcher 
Least Flycatcher 
Eastern Phoebe 
Great Crested Flycatcher 
Yellow-throated Vireo 
Red-eyed Vireo 
Blue Jay 
American Crow 
Black-capped Chickadee 
Tufted Titmouse 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
Winter Wren 
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 
Wood Thrush 
American Robin 
Gray Catbird 
Louisiana Waterthrush 
Blue-winged Warbler 
Tennessee Warbler 
Common Yellowthroat 
American Redstart 
Blackburnian Warbler 
Yellow Warbler 
Black-throated Green Warbler 
Canada Warbler 
Eastern Towhee 
Chipping Sparrow 
Field Sparrow 
Song Sparrow 
Scarlet Tanager 
Northern Cardinal 
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
Indigo Bunting 
Brown-headed Cowbird 
House Finch 
American Goldfinch 

All images © 2013 Mike McDowell

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