Statewide birding report as of September 19, 2019

Broad winged hawk

Large numbers of broad-winged hawks will migrate through Wisconsin over the next 7-10 days. Look for “kettles” of dozens or even hundreds of the birds as they circle high on rising columns of warm air known as thermals. Photo by Ryan Brady.

Landbird migration is nearing an overall peak statewide as warblers, thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, grosbeaks, sparrows, and more pass through the state. Now is the time to catch a glimpse as some species may not be seen again until next spring! The north saw especially great flights of migrants on the 14th and 19th, including excellent warbler diversity, some lingering neotropical migrants, and the vanguard of later-season, shorter-distance migrants like robins, kinglets, and sparrows. Numbers of palm and yellow-rumped warblers have significantly increased there, signaling the tail end of the warbler migration is approaching. Farther south, warbler migration is likely to peak this week. Orioles have become far more scarce there, however, while hummingbirds continue in small numbers. Continue to keep feeders up through the month.

Cedar waxwings are prevalent statewide. Migratory woodpecker species are on the move, including northern flickers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and red-headed woodpeckers. Even a few whip-poor-wills were heard calling on this week’s warm, summer-like nights. Also keep an ear out for drumming ruffed grouse. North woods birders reported more purple finches and pine siskins. What kind of year is expected for these “winter finches”? Check out the 2019-2020 Winter Finch Forecast. Other arrivals of note around the state included orange-crowned warbler, rusty blackbird, and white-crowned and fox sparrow among the more common white-throated and chipping sparrows.

Rarities were surprisingly few but that will likely change this week as birders flock to Wisconsin Point in Superior for the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology’s annual Jaegerfest field trip. Parasitic jaegers and other unusual birds are often found at this exciting and highly social event, which is open to the public. Otherwise, the week ahead looks promising for several active migrant events, especially into Monday. Hit your favorite stopover sites and keep an eye to the sky for migrating raptors, especially kettles of broad-winged hawks likely to head south over the next 10 days. Help us track the migration by reporting your observations to Good birding!

– Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program biologist

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