Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cold Resurgence

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.

Eastern Phoebes

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.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

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.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet


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.

Hermit Thrush

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
53 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Lesser Scaup
Pied-billed Grebe
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Greater Yellowlegs
Wilson's Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Winter Wren
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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