Statewide Birding Report as of October 7, 2021

                White Throated Sparrow
Sparrows steal the show during the month of October, perhaps none more recognizable than the white-throated sparrow. Photo by Ryan Brady.

Mid-migration season has arrived, bringing sparrows, waterfowl, and other hardy species as warm weather birds continue to depart. Look for white-throated, white-crowned, Lincoln's, song, swamp, fox, chipping, and savannah sparrows, among others. Harris's sparrows are showing better than average, and Nelson's sparrows are being seen at wet weedy fields in portions of southern Wisconsin. Like it or not, dark-eyed juncos have arrived in force too, especially up north. 

Diving ducks like scaup, redheads, and a few surf scoters have begun to move in, while mallards, wood ducks, and both teal were reported in good numbers among other dabbling ducks in recent weeks. American coots, horned grebes, and increasing numbers of common loons are also being seen. Shorebird numbers are well past peak but a diversity of late-season species continue, including American woodcock, Wilson's snipe, both yellowlegs, American golden and black-bellied plovers, long-billed dowitcher, killdeer, and pectoral sandpiper. Of note recently were hundreds of sanderlings seen at several sites along Lake Michigan and 15 Hudsonian godwits in Brown County.

Other short-distance migrants now on the move include American robins, blue jays, rusty blackbirds, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, northern flickers, ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, brown creepers, winter wrens, hermit thrushes, and a suite of tundra breeding songbirds that includes American pipit, horned lark, and Lapland longspur. Warbler migration is waning save for scores of yellow-rumped and palm warblers and smaller numbers of late species such as pine, orange-crowned, Tennessee, Nashville, Cape May, common yellowthroat, and the occasional black-throated blue. A few ruby-throated hummingbirds continue in mostly southern counties, as do some eastern phoebes, gray catbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and indigo buntings.

Great horned and barred owls are actively calling again, while northern saw-whet owls and the first long-eared owls have begun their migrations. A few purple finches and pine siskins are being seen, but most notable is a very early common redpoll photographed in Marquette County. Some of the other rare birds spotted this week included parasitic and pomarine jaegers in Douglas, little gull in Bayfield, white-faced ibis in Brown, and eared grebe in Dane. With more south than north winds in the forecast for the next week, migration will slow down and the possibility of vagrants from the south may increase. Help us track the migration by reporting your finds to www.ebird.org/wi.  Enjoy the birds!

– Ryan Brady, DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program Biologist


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