Sunday, March 06, 2016

March Song!

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."

― Charles Dickens

Song Sparrow

My windows are open as I'm writing. I can hear calls of Sandhill Cranes as they fly over. Perhaps they're on their way to Esser Pond, or maybe Pheasant Branch. At last, March has arrived. For Wisconsin the months of March, April, and May are best to witness spring bird migration, perhaps Nature's greatest spectacle. For my inaugural March 2016 birding excursion to the conservancy I covered the prairie parcel, overlook, the woods north of Century Avenue, Bock Forest, the creek corridor, confluence ponds, and North Fork marsh. It was very breezy, but the early morning singers were not deterred.

Red-winged Blackbird

A few species at a time, things become more interesting ― it can be measured with each subsequent outing. There's an order to it, but there are almost always surprises. Now there are even more Red-winged Blackbirds at the prairie and I saw my first female today. Males are defending territories with increased intensity. I observed a male go after another that was guilty of perching too close and got chased all the way across the prairie. The victorious blackbird returned to his preferred perch and resumed singing.

A flock of nine White-crowned Sparrows were assembled just south of the first retention pond. There were a few adults and several immatures. I think these birds must be recent arrivals as I was only finding one or two during my winter visits to the prairie. Yes, arrivals ... but from where?

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow (immature)

Thawing in a most peculiar way.

The forest song was a blend of cardinals, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and various woodpeckers. There were a few Cooper's Hawks patrolling the area, so from time to time the cardinals would sound the alert sending all the other songbirds for cover.

Cooper's Hawk

Um, no. They can still see you.

Tufted Titmouse

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Mar 6, 2016 7:15 AM - 10:45 AM
39 species

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

All images © 2016 Mike McDowell

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