Mother’s Day 2018

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and my mom wanted to go birding with the whole family. While waiting on my brother, my parents and I checked the woods out back for birds. There were quite a few Nashville (Oreothlypis ruficapilla) and Magnolia warblers (Setophaga magnolia). My brother soon showed up and we sat on the porch together as warblers flitted in the canopy and ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) came fearlessly to the feeder just yards away from us.

Magnolia warbler

We then all headed to the Pheasant Branch Creek Corridor for an evening stroll. Now my brother is not a birder, but he has some good birding skills. He tracked all the chestnut-sided (Setophaga pensylvanica) and magnolia warblers as they darted from tree to tree. He knew where every single bird was, a lot of times before the rest of us had a chance to check them all out. His keen observation for field marks was evident too when he saw a bird for a few seconds and described it perfectly. My dad thought his description sounded like a Canada warbler (Cardellina canadensis)- and it was! I had missed out on them for seven whole years and I was happy to see it. It gave us quite a show too, hopping all around bushes and logs by the creek for several minutes.

Eventually it got too dark to bird. Everything we saw was covered in twilight’s shroud. We drove back to the house, talking about the birds. The day was over but the memories were fresh on our minds. Happy (one day belated) Mother’s Day to all the human moms and bird moms out there.

Early May Birding

Alright, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted, and that’s because I’ve been having so much fun birding! Warblers are rolling in, and it seems like every few days a new species is the predominant one. Today the magnolia warblers (Setophaga magnolia) are taking over the woods. My 2018 warbler count is now up to eighteen species.

  1. Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)
  2. Northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)
  3. Blue-winged (Vermivora cyanoptera)
  4. Black and white (Mniotilta varia)
  5. Prothonotary (Protonotaria citrea)
  6. Tennessee (Oreothlypis peregrina)
  7. Orange-crowned (Oreothlypis celata)
  8. Nashville (Oreothlypis ruficapilla)
  9. Common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
  10. American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)
  11. Northern parula (Setophaga americana)
  12. Magnolia
  13. Blackburnian (Setophaga fusca)
  14. Yellow (Setophaga petechia)
  15. Chestnut-sided (Setophaga pensylvanica)
  16. Palm (Setophaga palmarum)
  17. Pine (Setophaga pinus)
  18. Yellow-rumped (Setophaga coronata)

I usually see a few more by the time migration is over. Where are Wilson’s (Cardellina pusilla) and golden-winged (Vermivora chrysoptera) warblers? Hopefully I find some in the next few days. I might have missed my chance to see black-throated green (Setophaga virens) this spring because I know people were seeing them a handful of days ago. The prothonotary was a nice surprise. It was the first I’ve seen in Dane County. Maybe I’ll see something else I wouldn’t expect… a Kentucky warbler (Geothlypis formosa) maybe?

Other birds have been rolling in too. Baltimore orioles (Icterus galbula) and rose-breasted grosbeaks (Pheucticus ludovicianus) have been popular among the feeder watchers on my Facebook groups. What’s up with the grosbeaks this year? People are posting pictures of them left and right. Normally we only get three in our yard, but we’ve had at least eight hanging out at our feeders almost nonstop. I’ve also seen ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris), eastern kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus), and green herons (Butorides virescens). It hasn’t been a bad time for swallows and thrushes either.

Eastern kingbird
Baltimore oriole nest- a grassy structure hanging from the periphery of a tree, often near water

I wanted to finally get started on some serious shorebird viewing today, but with the high waters around town open mud is hard to find. I hope I don’t have to wait until fall to see a few more of those.

In spring I tend to get almost obsessive about getting pictures of singing red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). Their song brings life to marshes and the way their flash their epaulettes while singing is very photo-worthy. I think I did well this year.

Stay tuned. I’ll do a few more bird posts this month and hopefully by the end of the month I’ll have enough material for butterfly and herp posts (got a cool turtle pic today).