So, April is not yet done with wintery weather. This isn't entirely unexpected. We nearly broke a record for low temperature, too. As ready as I am for sustained warmer conditions, the snowy dusting along the creek corridor was quite beautiful this morning. At first things were rather still and calm, but as the sun's rays spread along the banks the birds came out from their roosts and began to sing.
For many resident creek corridor birds, this chilly change was rather mild compared to what they endured from December through February. However, the early spring migrants also know what to do. First things first, as these Eastern Phoebes warming themselves in the sunlight demonstrated.
Usually by mid-April I've already encountered a half dozen warbler species, but so far it's been all Yellow-rumped Warblers. And that's just fine. Pine Warblers? Louisiana Waterthrushes? Palm Warblers? They ought to be arriving any day. But spring migration isn't only about what's arriving; it's also about what's leaving. Some American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos are still around, but their numbers are quickly decreasing as they move northward to their breeding grounds. In their place we'll welcome the return of Chipping Sparrows.
Due to the abscence of insects on branches, Ruby-crowned Kinglets were foraging for food in tree bark much like Brown Creepers do. This bird kept raising its crown on account of another nearby kinglet. Whenever they got too close to one another, a chase ensued.
Hermit Thrushes searched along the creek bank for food. There were at least a couple dozen of them along the trail between Park Street and Century Avenue. Fortunately for me, this meant they would be my photographic subject of choice for the morning.
Clouds began to roll in shortly before noon and much of the snow had melted. It's always interesting to me to watch how birds respond to sudden changed weather conditions. Fortunately, most of the migratory birds that have already moved into southern Wisconsin are pretty hearty. I worry a little for the swallows and Purple Martins, though. I couldn't find a single Tree Swallow at the confluence ponds today.
I have birded Pheasant Branch Conservancy over a thousand times and it continues to enthrall and amaze me, rare and common alike. There are questions and occasionally answers and lessons. Sometimes the answers raise more questions. Either way it goes, an answer or a question, it's all pure reward.
Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Apr 15, 2014 7:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Great Horned Owl
American Tree Sparrow
All images © 2014 Mike McDowell