Sunday, March 22, 2015
The past few days we've witnessed the return of more migratory birds to southern Wisconsin. Gorgeously sweet Eastern Meadowlarks and their "spring of the year" songs have returned to the fields along the North Fork trail. Other new birds (for me) included Eastern Bluebird, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, Turkey Vulture, and American Woodcock. I tallied 47 bird species during Saturday's five-mile hike at the conservancy. Sandhill Crane, American Robin, Song Sparrow, and Red-winged Blackbird numbers continue to increase. The serenading voices of the prairies and woods are even more enjoyable and relaxing to listen to. Yesterday I admired a Song Sparrow's song that had an intro phrase sounding not unlike a Spotted Sandpiper's call! Where did you learn that?, I wondered.
The young White-crowned Sparrows successfully overwintered at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch. As I've stated before, I'm not used to having a group of them stay throughout winter so I'm not entirely sure when they'll return north. Perhaps they'll leave about the same time as the American Tree Sparrows do. Checking Birds of North American online, apparently these sparrows don't attain definitive basic plumage until sometime in May.
This rather plump American Robin was foraging just outside the entrance to the creek corridor. Though I backed away so I could frame the entire bird, it kept moving toward me as it foraged for a meal. As my co-workers know, I admire their sprint, pause, stop, look and listen foraging strategy so well that I can perform a pretty fair impression of it!
Killdeer ... the underrated shorebird. These ones were relaxing near the parking area of the North Fork trail. The lighting made for some nice portraits and they were fairly cooperative subjects.
Pheasant Branch Prairie ... burned!
I'm glad they got the burn in early this year!
Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Mar 21, 2015 7:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
American Tree Sparrow
All images © 2015 Mike McDowell