Monday, March 16, 2015

Blue Sky Birding

Sunday morning's sky was filled with wispy cirrus clouds, which made for some fun scenic photography throughout my hike. I tallied 40 species for the first time since fall migration. In a little over a month it will be possible to nearly double that number. Bring on the warblers! Well, someone found a female Yellow-rumped Warbler at Spring Green today, but we're still a few weeks away from seeing them in larger numbers.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

I walked the creek corridor for about an hour and picked up many of the expected species. Red-bellied Woodpeckers were busy calling and excavating tree cavities. The woods are alive with Dark-eyed Junco trills. I suspect many of them are recent arrivals from further south on their way back up to Canada for the summer breeding season.

Sandhill Cranes

At the prairie parcel I found a White-crowned Sparrow at the parking lot. There were still a few more of them near the first retention pond with the tree sparrows. I wonder when they're going to head back north? They're becoming more vocal with full song, so I suspect they'll head out with the next front that brings winds from the south. In the above image, a pair of Sandhill Cranes flew by at the perfect moment while capturing more cirrus cloud photographs.

White-crowned Sparrow

Song Sparrow numbers are increasing and they're already beginning to establish territories. I'm not sure when the prescribed prairie burn is going to take place this spring, but I hope it's sooner rather than later. The arriving birds are ready to get things going!

Song Sparrow

A Northern Shrike was hunting in the thicket between the prairie and the marsh. Can you see it in the photograph below? Distance to the bird was approximately 200 yards. I called Dottie Johnson because it had been a few years since she last saw a shrike. Fortunately the bird remained perched and she enjoyed watching it through the spotting scope as it hunted. I saw it chase a small bird, but it managed to escape death this time. A small rodent wasn't as fortunate.

Northern Shrike

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Mar 15, 2015 7:30 AM - 11:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
40 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Northern Shrike
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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