Birding Report: Parade of migrating birds arrive on southerly winds

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Hooded mergansers and other waterfowl are plentiful across Wisconsin right now. Can you spot the well-camouflaged female in this photo? Photo via DNR Conservation Biologist Ryan Brady

Most of the state welcomed a parade of migrating birds this past weekend thanks to southerly winds and mild temperatures. The north finally saw a significant influx of early migrants such as robins, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, sandhill cranes, ring-billed gulls, killdeer, American woodcock and a wide variety of waterfowl. Canada geese were on the move there in large numbers, as were bald eagles, a few golden eagles and some red-tailed, rough-legged and sharp-shinned hawks. Feeder watchers noted a few more dark-eyed juncos, pine siskins and purple finches, as well as the highest numbers of common redpolls so far this year. Some evening grosbeaks also continued, and small numbers of Bohemian waxwings were found migrating along the Lake Superior shore.

Gobbling wild turkeys and drumming ruffed grouse were widely reported. Farther south, waterfowl migration was impressive at many sites with open water, such as Lake Winnebago, Lake DuBay, Madison Audubon’s Goose Pond Sanctuary and elsewhere. A few of the ducks found were canvasbacks, redheads, scaup, bufflehead, mallards, wood ducks, pintails, gadwalls, shovelers and green-winged and bluewinged teal. Goose numbers were incredible at some southeast Wisconsin locations, including Canada, cackling, greater white-fronted, snow and a few Ross’s. Tundra swans were also on the move, as were American white pelicans. The first common loons arrived on mostly southeastern lakes. Other new waterbirds included horned grebe, Bonaparte’s gull, greater and lesser yellowlegs and Wilson’s snipe.

The south is also now seeing the second wave of early migrating landbirds, featuring species such as eastern phoebe, golden-crowned kinglet, brown creeper, tree swallow, northern flicker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, fox, swamp and savannah sparrows, and a few yellow-rumped warblers. American goldfinches have begun to molt into their brighter summer attire, giving the males a patchy yellow appearance now. Nesting season is even well underway for some species there. Great horned owls and bald eagles now have nestlings. Barred owls and redtailed hawks are prepping nests or on eggs. Great blue herons are active at rookeries, while hooded mergansers and wood ducks are already scoping out nest cavities. The first mourning dove nests have also been reported.

Expect a slow to modest pace of migration over much of this week due to largely unfavorable winds. The weekend’s birding conditions should be good, and then warmer, south winds should usher in new migrants early next week.

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