Monday, January 04, 2016


Northern Shrike

A fierce Northern Shrike recently arrived at the prairie parcel of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. I first spotted it perched atop the oak tree near the parking lot, but something caught its attention and it took off across the prairie. I followed it to another tree where it held its perch until spotting prey beneath a patch of dogwood. The "butcher bird" zoomed down, grabbed a small rodent, and then made quick work of it from a more distant perch.

My first few outings of 2016 were pretty productive. I did well with raptors, finding both Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, plus Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harrier, and a Bald Eagle. The Gray Catbird I was hoping to count on the Madison CBC reappeared at the same buckthorn patch at the end of Marina Drive. I wonder where it was during the count? Sneaky bird!

There are still a few Sandhill Cranes around and I wonder if they'll even bother to migrate this winter. It's been a strange season for lingering migrants. Charles Naeseth called me earlier this evening to tell me he found an Eastern Phoebe at the Arena boat landing. It'll be interesting to see if Lake Mendota eventually freezes this winter.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jan 1st and 3rd, 2016
37 species

Canada Goose
Tundra Swan
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Pheasant
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Northern Shrike
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
Gray Catbird
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Northern Shrike © 2016 Mike McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for another year of thoughtful, informative posts and fabulous photos. I am so glad you decided last year to keep the blog going. It certainly enriches my life. I was able to walk for one whole hour at the prairie side of Pheasant Branch last month sans cane! It is so great to be doing normal bird watching again. Happy New Year, Mike.