Abe’s Arboretum Adventure Series – April 26, 2021

Abe’s Arboretum Adventure – 4.26.2021

TEMPERATURE: 52 degrees F
WIND: 15 mph, SSE
BIRD SPECIES: 27 (https://ebird.org/checklist/S86420419)

I’ve always thought I loved spring and fall equally. But this year, visiting the marsh every day, has revealed my one true love. The spring season. There is so much life brewing from our cold, dark, winters. Whether it’s the vibrant royal blue of Virginia bluebells, the emergence of new cattails, or the warm brown of a FOY brown thrasher, spring provides.

It was an especially special week for new birds. After a slow stretch of new species migrating to the marsh, I added 6 new species since last Monday. Not a large number, but the species were so exciting, the number doesn’t matter. I already mentioned the brown thrasher, which boasts a beautiful yellow eye to go with its warm brown and rufous colored back. Then there was the only shorebird I’ve seen at the marsh, a pair of greater yellowlegs. To be followed by a migrating woodpecker that breeds north of Madison, a pair of yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Shortly followed by a rare rusty blackbird sighting, also boasting a beautiful eye, this one full of white to contrast its glossy black body. The highlight was my sora sighting. Sora’s are a small chicken-like marsh bird with a beautiful orange beak and orangish/brown body. As I was watching an osprey hunt for a fish, I heard a rustling in the cattails. I looked down, but nothing. Back up to the osprey. Back down to the marsh floor and there was the cute little sora. 2 seconds from 5 feet away and then the skittish bird darted off back into the cattails. Finally, a trio of hermit thrushes bouncing around on the marsh forest floor. Their warm brown back is paired with a white eye ring, and a beauty-fully spotted breast.

Since I’m a birder, spring is a clear favorite in the race for my favorite season because of the mass bird migration that Wisconsin experiences each year (other states aren’t as lucky to get such a diversity of migrating birds go through their state). But of course pumpkins, and sweaters, and fall colors put up a good fight. Where spring springs ahead is with its spring ephemerals, like toothwort, bloodroot, trout lily, and the aforementioned Virginia bluebells. The emergence of lily pads from under the water brings signs of life for fish, turtles, and other water-loving animals. And the burst of sturdy, dark green cattails brings the marsh floor alive.

Even more greenery, more colorful spring ephemerals, and many many more bird species to come.

See you next week,