Sunday, April 22, 2018

It's it Safe?

"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change."

― Leon C. Megginson

"Bad things can happen, and often do, but they only take up a few pages of your story; and anyone can survive a few pages."

― James A. Owen

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

At my apartment courtyard, a Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel gazed out from behind a rock, as if to ask if it's safe to venture forth from its burrow. To be sure, that last blast of winter weather took a toll on birds. I received many emails and messages with photographs of dying or dead birds. Also, Sylvia found several deceased Tree Swallows in her bluebird boxes. However, it's important to note that the wild are more resilient to cold than we are―most birds endured. Plus, in cases like what happened with last week's blast of snow and cold weather, Nature has a second line of defense. Reproductive output can increase among those that remain because there are more resources to go around. As long as some individuals survive, populations bounce back.

So let's turn the page ...

Ring-necked Duck

Finally, some decent weather! Nevertheless, spring bird migration remains somewhat stalled. Though a few people have found Pine Warblers in southern Wisconsin, I'm still at Yellow-rumps. In term of plant phenology, I have yet to see any native spring wildflowers. The landscape remains very brown and monochromatic.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Red-breasted Nuthatch

I came across a pair of hyper-busy Red-breasted Nuthatches at Deer Creek. They were probably there all winter, but this was the first time this year I walked around the small woodlot and pond. When I got to the south end of the trail, their nasally yenk-yenk calls alerted me to their presence. They're certainly fun birds to watch, but they did not care for my company, so I moved on.

Great Horned Owls

My last stop at Pheasant Branch was to check in on the Great Horned Owl family. The female owl kept a lookout as an Osprey and a few Turkey Vultures flew over. The two owlets kept a close watch on the observers below.

Field Sparrow

My final birding destination for the weekend took me to Pope Farm Conservancy in the Town of Middleton. Its quietness is a refreshing break from the busy trails of Pheasant Branch's creek corridor. Once upon a time Pheasant Branch was a quiet place, but its skyrocketing popularity over the past decade makes calm one of the rarest things you can find there these days. I'm grateful to have known it back then.

Field Sparrow

Pope Farm Conservancy's prairie ...

and Oak Savannah.

Field Sparrows, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, and other grassland species were busy claiming territory with their songs. Soon they will be joined by Eastern Kingbirds, Orchard Orioles, Common Yellowthroats, Yellow-throated Vireos, and more. Weather-wise, I believe we're finally in the clear. The coming week's forecast is calling for at least 50 degree highs through next Sunday. Well, it did snow one time in May several years ago, but it melted the next day.

Eastern Bluebird

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Apr 22, 2018 6:20 AM - 10:29 AM
58 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Ring-necked Duck
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
House Finch
Purple Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2018 Mike McDowell

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