Abe’s Arboretum Adventure – May 10, 2021

Abe’s Arboretum Adventure – 5.10.2021

TEMPERATURE: 43 degrees F
WIND: 11 mph, ENE
BIRD SPECIES: 37 (https://ebird.org/checklist/S87725310)

Leaves have swallowed up the marsh woods, and have made it more difficult to spot birds. The cottonwoods and their leaves are old news, but now most of the wooded area adjacent to the marsh has fully leafed out. Other more bird-ly progressions of the spring season include sandhill crane parents appearing with their two colts (baby cranes) for the first time. I also found a northern cardinal sitting on a nest, but haven’t seen any eggs in it since that day. I’m guessing there will be more family stories to share as spring wears on.

The abundance of greenery has made it more difficult to see all the new warblers that have migrated through the area in recent days. Of the three new warblers for the week (northern parula, Tennessee warbler, black-and-white warbler), I only saw the northern parula. Normally, I can spot them high up in the trees, and identify them after following them around for a bit. But with so many leaves already, I’ve had to rely on my song identification skills. Which are a little rusty.

Two of my favorite migratory birds appeared at the marsh this week. One is the aforementioned black-and-white warbler, known affectionately as the referee or zebra warbler. They behave like nuthatches, hugging close to the trunk and thick limbs of a tree, and unlike most warblers which spend their time flying out from small branches to snatch bugs or picking at leaves to snatch other bugs. Black-and-white warblers are striking birds, and even though I only heard its squeaky wheel call, I could picture their stripes.

Another of my favorites, which happens to be striking in its own right, made the list this week. My first blue-headed vireo of the year was picking around young trees before I scooped it up in my binoculars. The blue-headed vireos don’t have a distinct call, but they do have a distinct look. Their blue-gray head contrasts with a green back, yellow sides and bold white eye-ring that almost wraps around the whole eye. It’s a sideways 9, and it’s beautiful. If you have an older bird guide, look for the solitary vireo – their name was changed in 1997 when one species was split into three.

Other firsts for the year: american bittern (please look up their stance – they stick their necks straight up to camouflage with the marsh edge) and least flycatcher (their song is a simple, “chibek”).
I’ll conclude with the three videos I scored over the last week that. See below for shaky (I take the videos through my binocular lenses) videos of a green heron flying across Wingra Creek, a yellow warbler singing and flitting on the edge of the marsh, and a muskrat swimming towards the entrance of its den.

See you next week,