Sunday, March 08, 2015

Red Birds

Near the creek corridor entrance of Pheasant Branch

The Vernal Equinox is less than two weeks away, but the weather this weekend was a much welcomed break from the near record-setting cold temperatures we experienced in February. I seized the opportunity to go birding at Pheasant Branch Conservancy Saturday morning and then again Sunday afternoon.

The late winter woods was alive with birdsong. This time of year the dominant voice belongs to Northern Cardinals; they were trading songs with great pageantry throughout the entire day. Sometimes one male would sing solo while others paused as if to listen, but eventually others entered the competition and gave it their all.

The chorus along the creek corridor is complemented with songs of Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Dark-eyed Junco trills. If you listen carefully, you can occasionally hear the high-pitched Brown Creeper call. While sitting on a bench, I could even hear Horned Larks calling as they flew over the corridor. The percussion section features the drumming of Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Soon, travelers from the south will take a role in the evolving spring choir. It's a thrilling time of year for birders—experiencing the return of migratory birds feels like something almost magical.

This particular Red-bellied Woodpecker appeared to discover something nourishing in a small tree knot. Whatever it was, it held the woodpecker's attention for a considerable length of time. Like some other woodpecker species, the tongue of the Red-bellied is so long it can extend at least three times its bill length and wraps around its skull when retracted.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Mar 7, 2015 7:30 AM - 10:30 AM
34 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Lapland Longspur
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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