Spring 2015 – Lake Park Warbler Walks

Spring 2015 – Lake Park Warbler Walks
Saturdays 8:30 – 10:00 AM

 April 18
April 25
May 2
May 9
May 16
May 23
Meet on the WEST side of the Warming House near the tennis courts on the north end of the park: 43.071968, -87.870073 (map)

Cancelled if weather forecast calls for thunderstorms or steady winds of over 20 mph.
·         These free, informal walks are open to the general public of all ages.
·         Recreational birders familiar with Lake Park volunteer to lead people of all skill levels to the best birding spots in the park.
·         Beginning birders are especially welcome. Camaraderie and discussion of diverse environmental issues are encouraged.
·         From bridges over ravines birders can look down on thrushes, sparrows,and warblers.
·         Red-headed Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds occasionally visit the woodland edges.
·         Sandpipers, gulls and ducks migrate along the Lake Michigan shoreline.


Map to the “Warming House” of Lake Park

Lake Park – Satellite view 

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GBBC 2015 Overview – Excerpt from Cornell


GBBC 2015  Overview

You did it! Once again participants from around the world set new records for the number of species identified during the four days of the Great Backyard Bird Count and for the number of checklists submitted.
 
Total checklists: 147,265 (up 3,156)
Total species: 5,090 (up 794)
Estimated participants: 143,941 (up 1,890)

 
Bad weather really had an impact on participation in the heavily populated northeastern quadrant of the United States and across Canada. Bitter temperatures, snow, and high winds produced a noticeable drop in the number of checklists submitted from those regions. Kudos to those who braved the elements to count (humans) and be counted (the birds)! And congratulations to our outstanding performers across the globe. Below are the Top 10 countries ranked by number of checklists submitted:
 
Country
Number of Species
Number of Checklists
United States
671
108,396
Canada
241
10,491
India
717
6,810
Australia
524
812
Mexico
653
425
Costa Rica
559
303
Portugal
197
193
New Zealand
126
161
Ecuador
784
138
Honduras
353
133
Do some more exploring on your own. How many Snowy Owls were reported in your state or province? Did Pine Siskins show up in your county? How many species were identified in your country?

Use the “Explore a Region” tool to find out.

 
Still Have Checklists to Enter?

Although data entry has been closed on the GBBC website, you can still enter any lingering lists by going directly to the eBird online checklist program at www.eBird.org. You can use the same user name and password (which you have carefully saved for next year). Any observations entered in eBird for the GBBC dates, February 13-16, 2015, will be part of the count.

The Next GBBC is February 12-15, 2016

Keep Counting!

We hear the same lament every year: “I had some some really great birds just before (or after) the GBBC and I couldn’t report them.”

Yes, you can! Now that you’ve contributed to the Great Backyard Bird Count, you can report your birds anytime, anywhere by using eBird. Just use the same user name and password you set up for the GBBC and the data entry process is the same.

You’ll be in good company. eBird collects millions of sightings each month from around the world. Those observations have been put to use in generating the State of the Birds reports for the U.S. Department of the Interior and for targeting specific species for conservation based on when and where they will be appearing during migration. Your birds matter!

Signs of Spring 2015

Spring is JUST Around the Corner!

  • Male turkey are starting to strut around hens. 
  • Great horned owls and bald eagles are sitting on nests incubating eggs, 
  • Common ravens are performing courtship flights,
  • Greater prairie chickens are dancing in central Wisconsin and 
  • Barred owls are performing duets statewide. 
  • The warm weather forecast should accelerate spring migration so be on the lookout for the return of Sandhill cranes and Red-winged blackbirds.
It’s time to polish up the bird watching gear and ready it for the coming season.

To clean the body of a pair of binoculars…

Gently wipe off the barrels, focus wheels, eyepiece rims and other parts of the binoculars with a damp cloth, but avoid touching the lenses.

Use a can of compressed air to blow dust and debris from around the focus wheel and other crevices, but only use small puffs of air. A sustained blast can create moisture that will damage binoculars.
In general, the exterior of most binoculars requires very little care. Sturdy coatings, waterproofing and other manufacturing techniques help keep good quality optics protected and clean even with heavy birding use. The lenses of the optics, however, require much more attention to maximize binoculars’ performance.
To clean binocular lenses…

Gently brush loose dust and dirt away from the lens with a special lens brush or a soft, clean paintbrush. It is helpful to hold the binoculars upside down when doing this so particles will fall away from the delicate surfaces. Alternatively, use small puffs from a can of air to blow off dust, but avoid breathing on binoculars – the moisture in your breath will add to the dirt on the lenses. If the binoculars are waterproof, the lenses can be held under a gentle stream of water to rinse dust away.

Use a wet cotton swab to gently soak up any remaining dust or visible particles, but take care not to press the swab into the glass or rub it across the surface. The swab should be wet with water or optics cleaning solution, not glass cleaner or formulas for eyeglasses. Using improper chemicals can degrade binocular lens coatings.

Use a lens cleaning pen or a lint-free cloth to gently wipe the lenses with a circular motion to remove smudges, fingerprints or stubborn dirt. Do not apply more force than necessary, and clean the entire lens. If the dirt persists, change direction and keep wiping gently until it disappears. Microfiber cloths or special lens cleaning cloths are best to avoid unintentional scratches.
Tips to Keep Your Binoculars Clean:
  1. To keep your binoculars clean as long as possible…
  2. Use lens and eyepiece caps to protect delicate surfaces when not in use.
  3. Store binoculars in a soft case and keep the case itself clean.
  4. Always use clean tools – a lens pen or polishing cloth – when cleaning binoculars.
  5. Do not apply sunscreen or insect spray near binoculars.
  6. Only clean your binoculars when the visual quality is impaired – less frequent cleaning means less risk of accidentally scratching the lenses.
  7. Proper bird identification often relies on having the best possible view of a bird to see tiny markings, subtle behaviors or unusual colors. Knowing how to clean binoculars properly can help birders ensure their equipment is always in the best possible shape so they never miss seeing a bird.
Source = ABOUT.COM –  Melissa Mayntz

The Great Backyard Bird Count – 2015

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.
Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.
We invite you to participate! Simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 13-16, 2015.You can count from any location, anywhere in the world!
If you’re new to the count, first register online then enter your checklist. If you have already participated in another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you can use your existing login.
Making sure that they get enough energy and fresh water…

__________________________

GBBC 2015 Halftime Report

by Marshall Iliff, eBird/GBBC

February 15, 2015

We’re off to another great start this year, despite very trying winter weather conditions in some parts of the United States. (Currently -2° F, and -26° F with wind chill, here in Ithaca, N.Y.!) Thanks to all of you who have been out counting birds! The checklists are rolling in from around the globe and we’re hoping to surpass last year’s record Great Backyard Bird Count results.  Like many of us, Gary Mueller of Missouri and his birds have caught GBBC fever. See his great photo below!

Photo by Gary Mueller, Missouri, 2015 GBBC

As of mid-afternoon on Sunday, February 15, (eastern U.S. time zone) we have received checklists from 116 countries, including Australia, Kuwait, Iceland, India, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey, and many more. Below are the top 10 countries by numbers of checklists submitted along with their species tallies. Click on the country name to get the very latest totals in our “Explore a Region” tool.
 
Country
 Number of Species 
 Number of Checklists 
620
42,862
227
4,029
589
3,119
481
499
516
140
165
110
109
88
77
72
325
65
119
53
Last year participants tallied more than 40% of the world’s bird species and we’re wondering if we might reach 50% this year. It will be quite a challenge, but there’s still time to get out there and add new species!
 

The Snowy Owl invasion—round 2

Last year was an epic year for Snowy Owls, but winter 2014-2015 has brought a pretty impressive “echo” flight. Read more about the where Snowy Owls have been appearing this winter.

Compare the February 2014 map (top) to this year (bottom). You’ll notice that both years have a lot of Snowy Owls and that the regions with snowies are pretty similar between years, but that there were more individuals reported in 2015—a classic “echo” flight. Zoom in on this map to see where Snowy Owls are being seen this month. Taking a non-birding friend out to see a Snowy Owl is one of the surest ways to get a new person interested in birding!
 

Snowy Owl eBird Reports February 2014

          

Snowy Owl eBird Reports February 2015

           

Winter finches are on the move this year, after an abysmal GBBC in 2014 when most winter finches stayed too far north in Canada to be counted. Watch the maps fill in for Common Redpoll and Pine Siskin, and see if you can find those species in your area!
 

Exciting rare birds

Along the Pacific Coast there have been good numbers of Asian birds spending the winter. Some of the strong Pacific storms in the fall may have blown a few birds off course, and once on the North American landmass it seems that some species wandered south. A Rustic Bunting in San Francisco has been a star attraction for a few months now, and has been counted for the GBBC—the first ever for San Francisco and one of very few for California. (Photo of Rustic Bunting by Michael O’Brien, California)

News just in today is that a backyard GBBCer in King County, Washington, photographed a Brambling at her feeders. A number of Bramblings reached the West Coast of the United States this year after the Pacific storms, but this is a super-exciting find for the GBBC—this is a species that is common in Eurasia and extremely rare in the Americas.

The Arctic is changing, and while its overall effects on our climate and on the fragile Arctic ecosystem are still being studied, one thing seems clear: the thawing Arctic is allowing birds to move more freely around the poles. Slaty-backed Gull, Tufted Puffin, Northern Gannet, and a number of other species have appeared in the “wrong” oceans in recent years, presumably dispersing through open water corridors in northern Canada and maybe over the pole.

This could be the explanation for north America’s first Common Scoter, which was first identified a few weeks ago in Crescent City, California. Since this is a European species, birders have been watching for it on the East Coast, and its appearance in the Pacific is a first-ever for the species and is very unexpected. It may headline as the most exciting bird counted for the GBBC in North America. Have a look at the GBBC checklist with a photo of the species.

Last year we highlighted two Mexican species that are moving north and being found regularly in the border states now: Sinaloa Wren (so far, found only in Arizona) and Rufous-capped Warbler (Arizona and Texas). Both have been found during this year’s GBBC too, and there is a new one to add to the mix that few would have expected: Striped Sparrow. This Mexican endemic sparrow is almost towhee-sized and few experts would have predicted its appearance, especially so far from the border near Austin. Although how and why it has appeared in the U.S. is still unclear, intrepid GBBCers have gone out to make sure it has been counted and it represents a new bird for the count in the U.S. (Striped Sparrow by Dominic Sherony via Wikipedia Creative Commons)
 

International highlights

Once again, India has been a lot of fun to watch during the GBBC! Indian birders have been abuzz on Facebook and other social media to promote the count and their great efforts are showing. This year we are seeing 598 species and 3,096 checklists (a huge increase over the 500 species and 1,184 checklists at this point last year!)

Some 485 species have been found down under these past 2 days. Several of the top submitters have had more than 100 species–pretty impressive for the dead of summer for Oz! I bet they have been warmer than the Canadian eBirders/GBBCers, who have dressed warm and worked hard for their 228 species. Thank goodness for the comparatively temperate province of British Columbia, which is leading the way by contributing 80% of the species (184). Reifel Bird Sanctuary alone has contributed 76 species, more than provincial totals for all but Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Kudos to all Canadians who have braved the temperatures in the dead of winter to monitor bird populations! Birders in Mexico have surely been more comfortable as they have tallied 516 species (half of the country’s avifauna!) on their 147 checklists. With lots of endemic birds in the country, we hope a few more can be added to the global tally before the count closes out tomorrow. (Mauritius Fody by Varina Ramdonee, Mauritius, 2015 GBBC)

New and growing eBird communities are becoming part of the GBBC. Malaysian birders are taking part this year for the first time. Their start is modest (17 lists and 190 species), but this is an area that had not been covered at all before, so this is a great beginning. Watch for Malaysia to take off in 2016! In the Philippines, birders have posted 34 lists and 154 species and like Malaysia, this includes a lot of unique species that cannot be found elsewhere. Portuguese birders are rising to the challenge too, and will be adding a custom version of eBird for their country very soon. As of midday Sunday, they have spotted 164 species on 102 checklists, with more still coming in. Taiwan, which will also be adding a version of eBird in Mandarin later this year, is another area rich in endemic birds, so the 33 checklists reporting 153 species include some key ones for the global total. Some excellent local promotion has made Serbia a surprise member of the leader board. Serbian birders have found 120 species so far in 2015, with 77 so far for the GBBC. Can they break 100 species on the final day of the GBBC? Let’s all join in cheering them towards that goal! There are many other areas pitching in: Argentina, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Kuwait, Thailand, New Zealand, and more. Try exploring yourself to see what others are seeing around the world.

You can continue to enter your checklists through the GBBC website through the end of February. After that, you can still enter lists for the count by going directly to the eBird website, using your same user name and password.

If you haven’t already, try some of these activities:

  • Explore what’s being reported with the “Explore a Location” tool. You can see what species are being reported and how many checklists are being turned in at the county, state/province, and country levels. Just click “Explore Data” on the GBBC or eBird websites and you’ll see the “Explore a Location” tool at the top of the list.
  • Go to ebird.org and try making a Targets list for your county or state in February. This may show what species are around that you have not yet reported. Click “map” to see where to find those birds and perhaps you’ll get to see and report them for the GBBC.
  • Submit photos for the GBBC photo contest or just explore some of the fantastic images that are coming in!
  • Sign up for the GBBC eNewsletter on the website homepage. This is the best way to stay on top of any updates and to get word of the 2014 count summary when it’s ready.
Thanks for counting with us—let’s keep a good thing going!
 

 

Lake Michigan Duck Watch – 2015

View from the WPT


On a sub-zero day in January 2015, I drove the WPT east to the shores of bone-chilling Lake Michigan to see just what ducks were there.  It was overcast, gray and windy as I pulled up in the parking lot of the water station and strapped on my gear.  I was dressed in layers to help fight the cold, but my hands were having a tough time with the gloves I had chosen.  Mittens would have been smarter; but using a camera with no finger dexterity is difficult.  I waded through a freshly falled amount of powder and approached the lake.  Ice had formed to within 10 yards of the shore in chaotically layered islands.  A slow but determined wave motion sloshed up into small “bays” and cuts in the ice pack.  I needed to be extremely careful not to slip; but even more wary not to blunder into a disguised mini-gorge and into the ice water. There was virtually no one who would ever hear any pleas for help.  The only other person I saw was one of those psycho-runners tip-toeing on the icy public sidewalk near Lakeshore Drive…and I thought I was nuts.

Ooh boy it’s cold!
The predominant avian form seen this day was the Common goldeneye.  1.Among Common Goldeneyes pair formation begins in midwinter, and until then the two sexes often form separate flocks. Indeed, males winter farther north than do the females. During its courtship display, the male stretches his head forward along the water and then snaps it rapidly upward over his back, bill pointed skyward, while uttering a shrill, two-noted call. Then he swings his orange feet forward, sending up a small shower in front of him. The wings of this species produce a loud whistling sound in flight, easily identified even when the birds cannot be seen; hunters call this species the “Whistler.” Goldeneyes can dive to depths of 20 feet (6 meters) or more, but generally limit themselves to about 10 feet (3 meters). In winter, goldeneyes feed mainly on mollusks; in summer, their diet shifts to aquatic plants and insects.


Common Goldeneye

This species is particularly hardy and often the last waterfowl species to leave the breeding grounds and the first to return. Migration peaks occur in November and March/April. The species migrates in small, loose flocks, concentrating at suitable stopover points, especially in spring when these are limited. River valleys tend to funnel inland migrants to some extent. All populations are migratory, even where the species occurs year-round. Individuals may migrate only as far as necessary to find open water. The winter range is contiguous with the breeding range except in south-coastal Alaska and extends from the Alaska Peninsula along the Pacific coast to southern British Columbia, then across southern Canada and the lower 48 (except inland southern areas and south Florida) into coastal and lowland northern Mexico. Adult males tend to remain farther north than adult females, which in turn remain north of juveniles. The species also breeds across northern Eurasia and winters south to the Mediterranean, Caspian Sea, and Japan.”

Lake Michigan shoreline in January
1. Source: Boreal Birds.com about the Common Goldeneye

Christmas Bird Counting and More

The many, many CBC birding “circles” in North America
The 115th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count took place Dec 14, 2014 to January 5, 2015.  It is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, beginning around the turn of the 1900s. The Christmas Bird Count provides critical data on population trends. Tens of thousands of participants know how fun and challenging it can be.  This year’s installation was no different as Barbara and I stepped outside our Milwaukee apartment on the last official day of fall 2014, and into the chilly 28 degree air.  Opie was busily sniffing the air as all lucky dogs do that get to step outdoors; all the while we loaded the WPT with our birding gear.  You see, we decided that he could come along this year.  He agreed.

The many, many CBC birding “circles” in Wisconsin
Our little “corner” of the birding SE Wisconsin “WIMI” circle was again Area 20.  If you looked at a clock face and imagined that we were at about the number seven (7); you’d get close to finding the multiple city real estate where we were about to crisscross for the rest of the day.  Each count takes place in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler.  Our WIMI circle is compiled by Andrea Szymczak and has been for the past several seasons.  If you are a beginning birder, you will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher.  If your home is within the boundaries of a CBC circle, then you can stay at home and report the birds that visit your feeder on count day as long as you have made prior arrangement with the count compiler.  
Birds may be counted by sight or also by Voice ID (meaning that if you can positively identify the species by ear, you may include that species as being legitimately counted.)  This comes in handy when geography gets in the way of a line of sight ID.  Data from the over 2,300 circles are entered after the count officially ends each year and become available to query under the Data & Research link of the Audubon site.   Neither Barbara nor I were able to count the previous year due to holiday travel that took us well north of the area, so consequently the data I was comparing our 2014 observations to was from 2012’s count.  In that respect there was little comparison to those dismal (rainy-day) numbers.  Birds were everywhere we looked and very active.  True, there was no snow cover and food was plentiful, but I would have thought that at least the cold would keep their numbers down somewhat. 

Little Bird and Birdstud Count Birds

Jacobus Park (in the village of Wauwatosa) was our first stop.  With Opie trying to choke himself at the end of a 10-foot retractable leash; Barbara and I ticked off bunches of both American Goldfinch and Robins.  Downy woodpeckers zipped back and forth across the road and Dark-eyed juncos hopped in the brown leaves at the Menominee River’s edge in search of food.  The small pond in front of the community gathering structure was frozen over, though I would not guess solid.  As a result the only Mallards were on the free-flowing water of the river across the road.  The steep rough-hewn paths within the park were not covered with the often characteristic ice, so we were able to traverse them safely as we looked high in the trees for the squawking Red-bellied woodpecker. 


A murder of noisy American crows on the edge of a clearing piqued our interest enough to get a closer look.  Sure enough; a Cooper’s hawk tried its best to ignore the caw-cawphony, but eventually took to the skies with a jet black pursuer on his tail.  That was a particularly satisfying moment for me, as it’s great when you can use nature’s clues to get a sighting of a bird that is trying its best to stay hidden from view.  Crows are wonderful harbingers of nearby owl or raptor activity…use them to your advantage and don’t ignore their fussing.   Barbara and I met a nice woman named Rebecca Haefner and her Westy walking along the roadway who knew exactly what we were doing and called out as we drew nearer.  It turns out she is very active on the board of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin and is affiliated with www.wisconservation.org.  After a total walk of three miles which included a northern pass through Doyne Park, we climbed into the WPT to find a smoky grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup back at the apartment.  No, we didn’t count that.
TMER & LCO
Once fueled again; I went it alone for the afternoon.  Opie was completely gassed and needed a nap. I began by driving to the extreme north edge of Wood National Cemetery to walk along the old No. 10 Milwaukee Streetcar route under a series of massive electrical power line steel towers, next to I-94. Apparently the Mourning doves and Northern cardinals I had seen in 2012 still called this little corridor their home, because there they were again.  I happily made a tick mark for each one as I walked along the grass and gravel of the route. American robins and Black-capped chickadees also could be seen in the leafless trees and scraggly evergreens that lined the path and narrow concrete roadway.  I was taking a photo of an old cast iron electrical access box lid with “TMER & LCO” embossed into the lid when my eye spotted a strange gray (box-like object) lying on the ground nearby.  I toed it with my hiking book to turn it over when I saw that it appeared to have a large round magnet screwed to the bottom.

Christmas Bird Counting in Wood Cemetery
Now, any birdwatcher worth his or her salt has accidentally come across geocache treasure boxes while scampering over rocks or climbing over structures on their way to a sighting, so I thought that perhaps this was what I had here.  Not wanting to disrupt the cache too greatly, but fearing it was already out of its intended (magnetic) placement as it was now lying on the ground near a chain link fence, I picked it up to investigate further.  There were four duct-taped tabs that gave me access to the “cover” of the (Tupperware-like) box, so I carefully unsnapped them.  Inside I discovered a clear plastic zip-top bag with the words “Letterbox Only” and “No Trades” written in black marker on the bag.  This really got my interest going, so I opened the zip-top to examine the contents of the bag. Inside one bag (inside the first bag) was a small notebook with an image of a streetcar on the front. On the streetcar was the letters, “TMER & L.”  I noted that these were the exact letters on the top of the electrical access box lid I was taking a picture of before I found the smaller box.  There could be no coincidence here; there must be a connection and certainly an interesting side-story to be chronicled in this here blog.
Letterbox
Inside the notebook was a small computer-printed explanation of what a “Letterbox” was and what one was to do when one found it.  It also had the website atlasquest.com on the tag, where a person could learn more about this curious hobby.  I jotted down the web address and the email address of the individual who had assembled this treasure.  The notebook was newer looking and had only one other entry.  On one of the first pages was a series of three “avatar stamps” of insects in different colors, a pseudonym of the stamper and the date that each was stamped; 8-25-14.  Just for fun I wrote on the next page that I was a bird watcher that had accidentally found this cache and my actual name before placing it gently back inside its own bag again.  The last bag contained a red-rubber reverse carved image of the streetcar wrapped in slightly damp paper toweling.  This was the “prize” if you will.  A fellow letterboxer would use their own inked stamp and print this image into their own notebook as proof that they had successfully located this particular box.  I found the entire concept fascinating and wanted to learn more.  HERE is more for you now to investigate if you wish; however suffice it to say that this has slowly become yet another world-wide hobby for adventurous travelers everywhere. 

Next was a stop at Hart Park in Wauwatosa, where I found a smaller group of American crows sitting on light poles and walking in the grass plus a large amount of Mallards on the river.  I was very surprised to see that many ducks at that time of year, however as the temperatures were mild and the water was moving briskly; they must have had plenty of whatever they needed right where they were.  

The balance of my time counting was never as interesting or fruitful as that morning period with Barbara.  I ultimately finished my day driving back and forth through the various neighborhoods with my windows down; listening and watching (but mostly listening).  This is an effective way to cover a large amount of territory in a short amount of time, as most “urban birds” will be hanging out in groups near convenient bird feeders, if they aren’t gathered in the larger open park and golf course areas.  Once I heard something interesting I would stop and walk around a bit to count what I saw.    

Here’s our 24 species list for the day, as reported to Andrea:

  • 2    Canada Goose
  • 92   Mallard
  • 2    Common Merganser
  • 4     Herring Gull
  • 4    Ring-billed Gull
  • 1    Cooper’s Hawk
  • 3    Blue Jay
  • 99   Rock Pigeon
  • 18   American Crow
  • 26   Mourning Dove
  • 36   American Robin
  • 6    Downy Robin
  • 2    Hairy Woodpecker
  • 1    Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • 5    White-breasted Nuthatch
  • 1    Northern Flicker
  • 17   Black-capped Chickadee
  • 7    House Finch
  • 60   American Goldfinch
  • 15   Northern Cardinal
  • 7    Cedar Waxwing
  • 96   European Starling
  • 155 House Sparrow
  • 17   Dark-eyed Junco

Another Year; Another Count – The Big Sit 2014

Bird Watcher’s Digest offers the chance to be a participant in their annual BIG SIT in October.  I decided to participate once again as I had the time and the weather looked marvelous.  If you recall; last year’s Big Sit was rainy and cold.  One does not get to match the weather with the chosen date.  From the BWD page, “Some people have called it a “tailgate party for birders.” Find a good spot for bird watching—preferably one with good views of a variety of habitats and lots of birds. Next, create a real or imaginary circle 17 feet in diameter and sit inside the circle for 24 hours, counting all the bird species you see or hear. That’s it. Find a spot, sit in it, have fun. Then submit your findings.”




I arrived at Havenwoods around 8:00 AM.  The sun shone brightly in the low western sky with nary a cloud as the day unfolded.  A shroud of geothermal mist drifted over the pond as I first approached the wooden bench that faces south.  Mallards tipped their backsides into the air as they dug for plants and other delicious nuggets of nourishment on the shallow pond bottom.  American robins flitted back and forth from tree to tree.  Eastern bluebirds joined the robins but had nothing but angst for them as they squawked their disapproval of each other’s proximity to the other.




One observation I made that day was of a “human nature” variety.  A group of people approached my circle


with three spunky young boys in the lead.  They rambunctiously ran ahead giggling and screaming as they passed me by and onto the bridge.  Another three people (a teenage girl and boy and one adult male) walked in their wake and also passed me by on their way to the other side of the bridge.  The adult shouted ahead to the youngest children to, “head left” and to one named Dominick; “you’re the fastest…try to beat the others to the trail!”  All I could do was to lament the lost opportunity of that small group of humans to experience the smallest bit of “nature.”  No one stopped to ask me what I was doing, looking at, etc.  The activity that they were engaged in (running through the forest) was one that could have taken place on any playground, parking lot, or shopping mall.  What have we become in this country?  Perhaps it is me?


Downy Woodpecker
Overall I didn’t have long to sit; but the time I was able to devote was sheer quality birdwatching indeed; and who needs more that that?










Team Information: BirdMilwaukee
Captain: Joseph Devereaux
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin (United States)
Team Checklist
  1. Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
  2. Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
  3. Canada Goose Branta canadensis
  4. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
  5. Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
  6. Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
  7. Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
  8. Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
  9. Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
  10. Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
  11. Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
  12. Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
  13. Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
  14. Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
  15. American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
  16. Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
  17. Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis
  18. Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
  19. Veery Catharus fuscescens
  20. Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
  21. American Robin Turdus migratorius
  22. Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
  23. European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  24. Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
  25. Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata
  26. Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
  27. Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum
  28. Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
  29. Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
  30. Lincoln’s Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
  31. Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
  32. White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
  33. White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
  34. Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
  35. Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
  36. American Goldfinch Spinus tristis
  37. House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Fox Sparrows