Who in their right mind tries to bird, blog, and keep up with it all during spring migration? Maybe the same person who is willing to sacrifice clean underwear by neglecting to do laundry in order to go birding? Well, it didn’t come to that as I found an unaccounted for pair of boxers in the back of the drawer this morning, but the fact remains – I was willing to go without in order to spend a few hours birding yesterday. In the mind of a birder there is no question which would lose out in the war between birds and underwear!
Spring migration presents a bit of a challenge for the birder/blogger. Just about everyday in Wisconsin during the month of May sees new species arriving, which means new birds to see, new birds to photograph, and new birds to write about. Unfortunately no new hours are added to the day to do it all. Add in a weekend camping trip, yard work, and this stupid thing we humans waste our time on called a career, and hopefully you’ll understand why this post is short on words and long on photos. With that in mind, this is really a photo-journal recap of sorts covering the past 3 weeks of birding.
On this day in mid-April when migration was still ramping up, I spent some time watching two Black-capped Chickadees building a nest. They took turns excavating the cavity and returning with nesting material. Sometimes us birders get wrapped up in always trying to find the next bird; it’s nice to slowdown and enjoy the show – learning the habits and characteristics of local species is both rewarding and good for the soul.
Say what you will about the grotesque look of Turkey Vultures, but the roads, parks, and lawns would be littered with carcasses and rotting flesh if it weren’t for them – nature’s garbage men. Have you ever noticed the hole bored through the top of their nose? That genetic trait provides them with one of the best sense of smells in the entire animal kingdom; something they use daily to find their next meal.
Most people don’t associate swans with agricultural fields, but during spring when the fields flood, these are reliable areas for both Tundra and Trumpeter Swans.
Fellow Northeast Wisconsin Birding Club member Neil accompanied me on a Saturday morning trip to Horicon Marsh. Although we missed on the reported nearby Marbled Godwit, we did add some new species such as Black-necked Stilt, Forster’s Tern, Pectoral Sandpiper, Semiplamated Plover, and Bonaparte’s Gull.
For myself and many other area birders, the month of May means High Cliff State Park. The park sits on the Northeast shore of Lake Winnebago and it’s no accident that the migration of warblers, vireos, tanagers, and other neo-tropical species along this route coincides with the hatching of lake flies. Last May I spent 10 days birding at High Cliff and tallied 26 warbler species. I’ll be spending the better part of the next two weeks here.
One of my favorite songsters returned last Friday, the Brown Thrasher. Often heard before seen, the Brown Thrasher is an expert mimic with a varied repertoire of calls consisting of more than 1,100 song types. It’s not uncommon to hear one run through 10-20 different songs, repeating each one twice before moving onto the next. Truly a fun bird to just sit and listen to.
Never heard a Brown Thrasher sing? Checkout this video: Brown Thrasher Singing
If you come across me in the field in the upcoming weeks, rest assured I’m back in clean boxers. Not from doing laundry mind you – there are far to many birds to see to waste time doing wash. Instead I’m employing a tactic from my early 20s, buying new ones! Bird It Up!