It seems like I just got done reporting about birds moving north into Wisconsin during spring migration. Now, already, it is time to report shorebirds starting their southbound migration. Meanwhile nesting birds are still feeding their young with many of those birds fledging every day.
Bernie Luedtke, of Fifield Seed-N-Feed store, shared with us that he had the pleasure of watching a mother brown thrasher feeding her three fledged babies. He chopped almonds and peanuts up from some of his bear bait and threw a scoop of it under his bird feeder every day and the thrashers liked that combination of food very much! He also witnessed the mother chasing down bugs crawling on the ground and feeding them to her young. He said just seeing one of these birds is a sight to behold, but to see four at a time was a real treat.
Indeed, is it a treat to see brown thrashers in our area. Current Breeding Bird Survey data indicate its persistent decline statewide. However, it remains a common nester across the southwestern two-thirds and a common breeder in the northeastern one-third of the state.
For more news of what is happening around the state bird wise, I share with you Wisconsin Conservation Biologist Ryan Brady’s July 8 statewide birding report as follows:
Right on schedule, southbound migration is already underway for some shorebirds. New arrivals include the first solitary sandpipers, least sandpipers, and both greater and lesser yellowlegs, as well as a few black-bellied plovers, semipalmated plovers and short-billed dowitchers. Abundance and diversity will continue to increase weekly, with July featuring the bulk of the adult shorebird migration. Young of the year then peak from August into early September. Know of any mudflats, shallow wetlands, or drying ponds in your area? If so, visit them over the next two months to catch a glimpse of these fascinating long-distance migrants.
Mid-summer also brings the second half of the nesting cycle for most bird species, meaning nestlings and fledglings abound now, as well as adult birds carrying mouthfuls of food to feed them. In turn, bird song has slowly begun to decline as courtship and territorial behaviors wane. Some of the young birds reported this week include common loons, red-tailed and broad-winged hawks, green herons and American bitterns, tree and barn swallows, Baltimore orioles, blue jays, northern cardinals, and various warblers such as Nashville, black-and-white, yellow-rumped, and others.
If you find a baby bird and wonder if it needs help follow our guide to give the bird its best chance of survival at: https://p.widencdn.net/0bb8mx/birdkey.
Wondering why you may be seeing fewer birds in your backyard lately? There’s often no easy answer as local changes in habitat, populations of predators such as cats and hawks, or herbicide application can have impacts, although we do know that winter weather in the southern U.S. took a large toll on bluebirds, phoebes, and some other species. June is also a time when many birds are incubating eggs and thus become less active and more secretive. Moreover, feeders are simply not a necessary resource now given all the natural food on the landscape.
If you choose to feed birds this time of year, be sure to use fresh food, clean feeders weekly with a 10 percent bleach solution, remove fallen waste seed and keep pets away from feeder areas. Birdbaths and fountains are wonderful summer additions too but should also be cleaned and refreshed every three to five days to promote a healthy environment for our feathered friends.
Some of the rare birds recently spotted around the state included a white-tailed kite continuing at Crex Meadows in Burnett County, Swainson’s hawk in Portage, little gull in Marinette, and great gray owl, red-throated loon, and hooded warbler in Bayfield counties. Over the weeks ahead, look for more fledged young and family groups of birds, more migrating shorebirds, and by the second half of July, the first adult land birds starting their southbound migrations as well.
Help us track it all by reporting your observations to: https://ebird.org/wi/home.
The private Nature Education Center in Fifield operated by Tom and Mary Lou Nicholls is open seasonally by appointment only. Nicholls can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.