“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."
― William Shakespeare
New bird species will be arriving almost daily from now until the end of the third week of May. For southern Wisconsin, April is a transitional month as some winter birds are still present while the first Neotropical migratory birds begin to return. For those who have learned from elders in the birding community, we acknowledge that spring migration isn't what it once was, but it's still one of Nature's most spectacular events.
Meanwhile, resident songbirds of the creek corridor will be contending with a Cooper's Hawk family once again. Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, and Northern Cardinals are typically the first birds to sound the alert when an accipiter is spotted. The ferocious Cooper's Hawk scans the habitat for movement, but many songbirds instinctively know to sit perfectly still to avoid detection. To the benefit of the songbird community, such sentinel birds will keep sounding alarm calls until the threat has moved on.
Wood Fungus (Coriolus hirsutus)
Tree Swallows have returned to the confluence ponds along the North Fork. During the next two months I'll be spending most of my birding time hiking the creek corridor of Pheasant Branch Conservancy looking for warblers, flycatchers, vireos, and more. A huge wave of Golden-crowned Kinglets moved through about a week ago and we're just beginning to see other migrants like Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Eastern Phoebes, and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Dottie Johnson and I went to Goose Pond to see the Brant that's been hanging out there for the past several days. The last time I observed this species in Wisconsin was 2004 in Manitowoc with Jesse Peterson. The goose was preening and sleeping among other geese on the far side of the east pond, so I wasn't able to get photographs of it. This was a unique opportunity to observe Canada, Cackling, Greater White-fronted, Snow, and Ross's Geese in the same area.
Once back in Middleton, I went to the prairie parcel simply to enjoy the beautiful weather. I sat at the wooden platform next to the parking lot. Without much effort, I digiscoped a few sparrows that were curious about my presence.
American Tree Sparrow
And look who has young! There are two owlets, but the second is snoozing behind the adult.
Great Horned Owl nest
Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Apr 1, 2017 8:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Great Horned Owl
American Tree Sparrow
All images © 2017 Mike McDowell