Mild and dry weather allowed migration to advance steadily this week. The south continues to see excellent abundance and diversity of waterfowl, but with smaller numbers of swans and geese now. Shallow wetlands, ponds in open habitats and flooded fields have been hotspots, hosting various ducks, some greater white-fronted geese, good numbers of Bonaparte’s gulls, American white pelicans and growing numbers of shorebirds, including greater and lesser yellowlegs, pectoral sandpipers, Wilson’s snipes, and the first black-necked stilts. Tree swallows have become more prevalent, and the first purple martins and barn swallows have returned as well. Other water-associated species to look for now include ospreys, belted kingfishers and yellow-headed blackbirds.
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.
Ready for spring? We have good news for you – in the bird world, it’s underway! Southeast Wisconsin always sees the first migrants, and this year is no exception as the first red-winged blackbirds, killdeer and sandhill cranes have been reported there. American robins overwintered in good numbers, but new migrants are also moving in now. Horned larks, an early migrant of open grasslands and agricultural fields, are also showing well on rural roadsides. Farther north, trumpeter swans are returning to limited areas of open water, and the first bald and golden eagles have begun to wing their way northward overhead.