Statewide Birding Report as of February 13, 2020

Weekly birding report

The Great Backyard Bird Count runs from February 14-17, and participating is fun and easy. Learn more [exit DNR]. Downy Woodpecker photo by Ryan Brady.

Sunday’s snowstorm in southern and central Wisconsin brought good numbers of birds to backyard feeders, including northern cardinals, house finches, mourning doves, dark-eyed juncos, and other regular species. Blue jays and various woodpeckers continue to be most prevalent at many feeders, including decent numbers of red-headed woodpeckers even as far north as Minocqua and Hayward. Chickadees, nuthatches, and goldfinches have been more spottily distributed, while northern finches like redpolls and grosbeaks remain absent. Pine siskins have increased in northern Wisconsin but are not visiting feeders. A hoped-for influx of white-winged crossbills suggested by some new sightings in January has not materialized. However, a few red crossbills have been found in conifers or gritting on roadways there.

Farther south, numbers of horned larks are on the increase, often in similar open areas as snow buntings and a few Lapland longspurs. Great horned owls and some bald eagles are on eggs, red-tailed hawks are pairing up, and a few snowy owls are being found in hotspots like Buena Vista Wildlife Area, Green Lake County, Freedom, and Superior. The rarest bird found since our last report was a Golden-crowned Sparrow that visited a feeder in Richland County into early February, marking only the 4th documented in the state in the last 50 years and first since 2012. A few lingering birds of interest this week were savannah sparrow and Harris’s sparrow in Sheboygan, rusty blackbird in Waukesha, and orange-crowned warbler overwintering at a feeder in Dane.

The 23rd annual Great Backyard Bird Count will take place on Valentine's Day weekend, February 14-17, 2020. For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish! The count is fun, easy, and a great way to help monitor late winter bird populations. Learn more and participate at [exit DNR]. Good birding!

– Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologist

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