Statewide Birding Report - April 19, 2019

The north saw some notable migration events this week. Large numbers of dark-eyed juncos reached the Lake Superior shore on the April 17, accompanied by fox, song, American tree, and the first white-throated sparrows. Over 750 Bohemian waxwings were tallied near Ashland on that date as well. Hermit thrushes, eastern phoebes, yellow-rumped warblers, winter wrens, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, northern flickers, rusty blackbirds, and Eastern towhee have arrived in small numbers, while feeding stations are hosting American goldfinches, purple finches, pine siskins, and a few lingering common redpolls. Readers from the Northern Highland and other portions of northcentral Wisconsin may notice a delay in migration timing for some species as snow and ice persist there following the past week's major snow event. Several large raptor flights unfolded, especially on the April 16 when hundreds of red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and sharp-shinned hawks were on the move, in addition to some rough-legged hawks and others. The first broad-winged hawks reached Wisconsin from wintering areas in central and south America.

Farther south, ospreys continue their march back to nest platforms. Bonaparte's gulls were reported along Lake Michigan and in flooded fields inland, while the first terns are just now arriving, including Forster's, caspian, and common. Mid-April is a good time to look for grebes, including pied-billed, horned, and the rarer red-necked. Loons are starting to shift northward but some impressive counts were made on southern lakes this week, including 80+ on Lake Monona. Also impressive were 15-20 black-necked stilts counted along Highway 49 at Horicon marsh. Other shorebirds reported this week were Baird's sandpiper, dunlin, both yellowlegs, and the first piping plovers of the season. Purple martins, barn swallows, and cliff swallows also have begun their return, while warbler species were limited to yellow-rumped, pine, the first palms, and a few Louisiana waterthrushes.

                                   Do you know these four Wisconsin raptors? Now's a great time to look up on sunny or windy days in search of soaring migrants. Clockwise from top right - turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, and rough-legged hawk.  - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
Do you know these four Wisconsin raptors? Now's a great time to look up on sunny or windy days in search of soaring migrants. Clockwise from top right - turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, and rough-legged hawk.Photo credit: Ryan Brady

Rare birds spotted this week included western grebe in Ozaukee, varied thrush in Bayfield, and northern mockingbird in La Crosse. The week ahead looks good for migration, especially this weekend and then again mid-late next week. We'll start seeing the first of the long-distance neotropical migrants reach some portions of the state, like more warblers, perhaps a hummingbird or oriole in the far south, kettles of broad-winged hawks, and upland sandpipers back from Argentina but the main show won't kick in until late April in the south and early May up north. Help us track the migration at www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland


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