Statewide Birding Report as of June 10, 2020

Weekly birding report

Yellow warblers are a common summer species throughout Wisconsin. Listen for the males’ “sweet-sweet-sweet-I’m-so-sweet” song in moist habitats with shrubs and small trees. Photo by Ryan Brady.

Now well into June, migration season is just about over as the last of the cedar waxwings, common nighthawks, cuckoos, dickcissels, flycatchers, and other late migrants settle onto breeding territories. Straggling individuals remain possible, especially among the arctic shorebirds, which are notorious for moving north into mid-June. Indeed, birdwatchers reported very small numbers of various species this week, including white-rumped, semipalmated, pectoral, and least sandpiper, dunlin, sanderling, and ruddy turnstone, and American golden, black-bellied, and semipalmated plovers. Check sandy or rocky shorelines, flooded fields, and drying wetlands for these migrants and a few resident species as well.

Migrants aside, nesting season has taken hold of the birding scene. Many resident or early migrants are nearing the end of the breeding cycle already. Fledged young are now being reported statewide for trumpeter swan, wood duck, common loon, ruffed grouse, and various woodpeckers like downy and red-bellied. American robins and eastern bluebirds also have their first batch of fledglings, many soon to start a second brood. The majority of later migrants are likely on eggs now, with some still nest building and others perhaps with nestlings. Singing activity general peaks around early to mid-June as males establish and maintain territories.

The focus on singing, nest building, and incubation translates to reduced activity at bird feeders. Moreover, natural foods are abundant now and young birds generally require a diet of protein-rich insects instead of seeds. So while many birds are off nesting, now is a good time to reassess your feeding station, clean feeders with a 10% bleach solution, and offer a water source that will attract even more birds than a feeder throughout the summer months.

Rare birds spotted recently include black-bellied whistling duck in Milwaukee County, mountain bluebird in Taylor, prairie warbler in Adams, little blue herons in Dodge and Burnett, western grebe in Chippewa, little gull in Manitowoc, glossy and white-faced ibises in Dodge, and summer tanager in Door.

Believe it or not, the first southbound migrants – usually shorebirds and especially yellowlegs, solitary sandpipers, and least sandpipers – return to Wisconsin from Canada by July 1! Passerine (songbird) migration generally initiates in mid-late July such that by August, only two months from now, we’ll be in the thick of it all again. Look for our birding reports to become more frequent around that time. Until then, find out what others are seeing and report your finds Good birding!

– Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologist

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