Sunday, May 15, 2016

Spring Migration 2016

A rainbow of colorful birds is filling our skies again this spring.

The annual migration of birds traveling through Wisconsin is underway.

A female Baltimore Oriole struggles to untangle a luckless fisherman's line.

Doggedly determined she twists and tugs at the unyielding strand for nesting material.

Countless colorful birds are arriving daily feasting on buds, blossoms and insects.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a common and colorful candidate for your first woodland outing.

Approachable within reason, binoculars provide a tool for close-up views of this distinctive summer visitor.

The Eastern Bluebirds are back. Granted, never really far from Wisconsin to begin with, still the returning bluebirds are a welcoming signal of a pending summer. Nest boxes, either homemade or purchased, are a good way of attracting bluebirds into view at your window.

Our female Baltimore Oriole seems to be tangled up in her work. Inorganic material like monofilament fishing line is an attractive building material for nesting birds, although it presents dangers not found in organics. She seemed quite resolved to secure this prized tidbit and works to near exhaustion freeing it from a tangle of branches.

Colorless in the customary sense, the
Black-and-White Warbler
is impressive nonetheless.

Distinctively fashioned to blend into the darker recesses of an old growth forest, the Black-and-White Warbler is normally found at eye level or below.

His tree trunk travels are perpetual searches for ants, spiders, wood-borers and insect larvae .

Another bird of note is the House Wren.

Fairly muted in color to be sure, you may hear this melodic, but scolding wren prompting you to keep moving through his territory.

You may find yourself staring eye-to-eye if you get too close to the House Wren.

He's unlikely to back down on his claim and may insist you leave first.

If asked, it is preferable you move back a few steps and watch him with binoculars.

The Indigo Bunting is another welcome sight in the woods. Look for him searching for food on the field/forest edge. At this time of the year they dine on newly emerging summer it's insects.

A year round Wisconsin resident the male American Goldfinch is a stand-out...ready for the spring mating season. If you feed the birds in winter you've noticed this bird's colorful transition.

But don't expect baby American Goldfinches any time soon. American Goldfinches time their breeding to coincide with milkweed and thistle seeds maturing. Seeds sustain this truly vegetarian bird.

Even though the American Goldfinch falls victim to the parasitic habits of the
Brown-headed Cowbird (cowbirds lay an egg in other bird's nests for the host bird to feed) the cowbird chicks cannot survive on an
all-seed diet.  

You may also find a Chestnut-sided Warbler searching the underside of leaves for insects.

At last our female Baltimore Oriole seem to be winning her battle with the fishing line. Somehow she has cut the line into manageable lengths and is using it to build her highly recognizable pouch-shaped nest.

She has chosen an outer branch high over the Milwaukee River for the privacy a
leafed-out tree will afford.

She feels confident enough already to dive into this flimsy pouch for more weaving and shaping to her precise body measurements...the beginnings of a new home for her 2016 brood.
Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds, 
The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition