Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Arrivals!

Pheasant Branch Conservancy (prairie)

I covered a lot of ground at Pheasant Branch Conservancy on Saturday. I walked the prairie parcel, north and south creek corridors, the overlook area, and the North Fork marsh. There where several first-of-year sightings like Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Meadowlark, Wood Ducks, Pileated Woodpecker, and Herring Gull. The photoperiod controls migratory cycles, but it's astonishing to observe how even a short streak of pleasant weather creates an influx of spring arrivals.

It's been thawing during the day and dipping below freezing at night. Flooded low spots on trails become quite icy by morning. The ice is thin, but makes a lot of noise when stepping on it. This isn't helpful when you're trying not to startle birds.

American Robin

More American Robins are showing up at the conservancy. The ones in my neighborhood have been feasting on the fruit trees because the ground is still frozen and partially covered with snow. Though there was one Song Sparrow that overwintered at the conservancy, several more have appeared during the past few days and are already looking for territories at the prairie parcel.

Song Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbirds aren't wasting any time, either. Males are aggressively chasing other males away from their newly claimed territories. One blackbird in particular was defending his territory atop the small hill just west of the drumlin; it's a battle of song and action.

Red-winged Blackbird

He sang and sang. Konk-la-ree! Konk-la-ree! It's a glorious spring sound to my ears, but perhaps not so much if you're the one on the receiving end of the proclamation of hostilities.

And any time another male got too close …

Bang! Off he'd fly and chase it away!

Relationships change with the seasons. Perhaps they were part of the same wintering flock, but now that it's spring, all other male Red-winged Blackbirds are unwelcome!

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Mar 15, 2014 7:30 AM - 11:30 AM
39 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Common Merganser
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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