This Eastern Meadowlark turned out to be my Consolation Prize, not the First Prize.
He was not the Tricolored Heron I was hoping to find today. A Tricolored Heron is a rarity in Wisconsin…normally doesn’t visit here…a Gulf Coast bird.
Reports of a Tricolored Heron near Whitewater had been posted on the Internet for more than two weeks. I considered going to Whitewater to look for him, but hesitated. When I finally persuaded myself to make the hour and a half trip…I struck out. After waiting seven and a half hours for him to show up, I gave up.
That’s why I only have a bicolored Eastern Meadowlark to share with you today. There was no disappointment in seeing an Eastern Meadowlark and I don't mean to diminish the meadowlark's entrance in the Beautiful Bird competition either; I was just anticipating a much larger, tricolored bird.
The weedy grassland of rural Wisconsin is where you're likely to find an Eastern Meadowlark. Perched on an electric fence, this Eastern Meadowlark scanned 322 acres of Volunteer Public Access land. The VPA Program, managed by the DNR, opens desirable private land for the public to enjoy while protecting and compensating the landowner as well. Here is a link to the program: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/lands/VPA/ if you would like to find one of these leased private lands for yourself.
While I watched the Eastern Meadowlark scanning the wide, wet VPA lands, he mainly concentrated on five or six acres of it. I suspect he was protecting a claim...his corner of the property.
Eastern Meadowlarks are ground nesting birds and this one may have had a well-concealed nest somewhere in the four-foot tall grass. I didn’t see a nest and I didn’t go looking for a nest either…could have stepped on it accidently. He didn’t give away the nest's location either by visiting it in my presence; he just watched me closely.
The Eastern Meadowlark is a talented singer. Raising his head high for maximum projection, he belts out a simple, but varied song letting everyone know he is on guard. Males and females look similar, but the female is slightly paler.
He wasn’t the bird I went looking for today, but he'll do. He was an attractive, bicolorful runner-up.