Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fri & Sat birding.

So here's a quick summary of birding on Fri and Sat. 

On Fri, I drove back down to Lancaster for the Rosy Finch. No go.  That bird is unofficially gone. 
Actually, as of today, I'd say it's officially gone.  Anyway, it was still a good day.  I managed to bag 6 species of Finch for the day. My single greatest number of Finch species in one day! I had a grand total of 7 species for the week though.  
I also managed to add a bird to Jeff's now growing yard list: 

This Red-tailed Hawk flew directly over my head.  I also saw a Bald Eagle fly directly over the house.  Other birds at the feeders were: Titmice, Chickadees, Cardinals, Common Redpolls, Am Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, House Finches and Purple Finches.   

A stop at Pine Grove Rd on the way home added White-winged Crossbill to my list for the day. 

Today, after orchestra and my lesson this morning, I stopped at Arena Boat landing on my way home for a N Saw-whet Owl that had been reported there. 
After failing to even find the location (much less the bird) I drove down to the small creek that runs alongside the road and picked up a few wintering birds including this very cold looking Killdeer: 

This is the earliest in the year I have ever seen this bird and certainly the first time I have seen one in Jan.  Especially in snow like this.  
I also saw Am Robins, 1 Belted Kingfisher, 1 Song Sparrow, 2 Canada Geese and a bunch of Mallards.  Otherwise there wasn't much around to see. 

I have to double check this but I think that the only passerine in Southern Wisconsin at this time of year that I haven't seen yet is Red-breasted Nuthatch.  Any other passerine would either require a trip up north, or would be a rather rare bird at this time of year. 

In other words, I'm missing only two raptors for Jan and a whole slew of Ducks and waterfowl. 
Interestingly enough, there's so much water frozen around here that I haven't seen a single gull of any species! Not one.  Ah well, that'll change as soon as the ice melts. 

Happy Birding! 


Mike said...

Weird... Last winter rb nuthatches were extremely common where I lived near Camp Randall. And of course up north we see them year round in northern Lincoln Co. Do they irrupt as well?

Chris W said...

Red-breasted Nuthatches are an interesting Boreal bird. They can and do irrupt. Sometimes in small numbers and sometimes in very large numbers.
Last year we seemed to have a surplus of them.

Their summer habitat is Coniferous forests. Primarily Spruce and Fir where they hunt down insects and spiders that are hiding in the crevices in the bark of these trees. In winter, they migrate south. I live in their winter range. I generally find them in mixed Red Pine forests this time of year.
Because of the lack of insects and spiders in the winter, they chow down a cone seeds instead. When the cone crops fail, the birds are forced to move to where there is food. That's probably what happened a little bit last year. This year, the cone crops that they feed on are probably much better.

This year, it was the Spruce cone crops that failed completely, resulting in the huge irruption of White-winged Crossbills that is going on now.

Because both Red Crossbills and Red-breasted Nuthatches are not as limited as the White-winged Crossbills in what they can eat, they are happily munching down on this year's plentiful supply of Red Pine cones, neither species has seemed to have irrupted as much.

Even though I live in what is mostly the Winter range of the RB Nuthatch, there are a few places in Richland County where they can be found year round. Although, this year I have been rather stumped at finding them there.

I hope that answers your question.

Happy Birding!