Friday, August 16, 2013

Migration Story

The northbound birds that migrated through Wisconsin this spring have long since passed.   The southbound migration from Alaska and Canada has barely commenced. We only have our summer resident birds to enjoy now.

This new 1st year Cedar Waxwing still looks warm and fuzzy.  He’s attained some degree of self-sufficiency in his short life, but he still needs his parents. He looks to be healthy and able to migrate, but he needs to learn the Cedar Waxwing migration routes yet.

Two juvenile Tree Swallows wait to be fed along a branch .  They weren’t catching their own insects over a nearby pond, nor did I see them being fed, but someone is still caring for them.  Just barely out of their downy feathers, they depend on their parents for nourishment.

A pair of Eastern Kingbirds lingered in a tree as I approached. They didn’t fly away as I expected. They had something to protect. Just barely visible in the branches below was the nest they were guarding.

Eventually they responded to my intrusion by taking to the air.

They hovered above to persuade me to leave. 

Wanting to stay, but needing to go, 
I left.

Another somewhat older, but still  juvenile Eastern Kingbird perches at the top of a tree in Cedarburg, waiting to be shown by an adult which way to fly .

Appearing insecure, curious or maybe a bit cautious, this Baltimore Oriole might be an adult female or a 1st year juvenile.  Baltimore Orioles are summer residents in Wisconsin.  They will leave soon.

Another summer resident, the Red-winged Blackbird, is well known for his scolding, harassing and  in your face attitude that can get annoying.  Aggressive and protective of his territory, a Red-winged Blackbird could draw blood from the top of your head if you came across a particularly mean one. 

Besides having your hair rearranged by a Red-winged Blackbird, another danger of summer is stepping onto a bumblebee nest. 

I was a half-second away from stepping onto what I thought was a bare patch of ground in an otherwise tall field of grass.  

Not so…bad mistake...I diverted my foot just in time…no harm, no foul. I departed quickly.

The American Goldfinch is a permanent Wisconsin resident. Still in his spring breeding colors, this male was keeping his feathers clean. Males and females will take on a paler appearance during the winter months. Easily attracted to a backyard seed feeder, you could have American Goldfinches  eating outside your window throughout the winter.

The goldfinch’s colors are not the only colors in transition in mid-August. Treetops are changing too and  birds get to see the colors change up close.

The out-migration will begin soon.  Thousands of birds will be passing through Wisconsin and not just the big Canada Geese. The southbound songbirds will be less colorful and somewhat weather feather worn at this time of year, but a recognizable resemblance of their springtime selves.  

Think of the fall migration as another chance to see these beautiful birds in a different light.  
The show is free.  Just look up!