Redhead Duck Survives a Fishing Line Snag at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 16, 2020

One of my birding stops this morning was at the Fox River in Waukesha. Some unexpected and unwanted drama occurred. 6 Redheads were present, one female. The ducks starting feeding after a slow start and when one took a dive for some aquatic plants it came fighting some fishing line around its body. It did this action for about 2-3 minutes before taking a break on the ice ledge near the dam, it had to have been exhausted. It went back into the water after a break, I could still see the fishing line and it did some more action in the water to try to get rid of the line. I was instantly trying to think of resources that might be able to help but it was Sunday! The duck in the middle of the river sitting on thin ice with open water inches away in need of help. On the ice, the duck did some biting on the double line, unbelievably the line broke off and fell in the river. What I felt had happened, the duck had grabbed a bill full of aquatic plants and swallowed it along with the line that was free, laying in some of the plants under water. In a couple of minutes the duck seemed fine and it was resting. It seemed like a miracle took place. The 100’s of other ducks and Canada Geese present remained almost motionless during the event, amazing! Images were taken on February 16, 2020.

Redhead, the struggle with the fishing line, I saw the line once in and around the wings…

Most images show the fishing line…

Image shows a double fishing line, the Redhead grabbed some aquatic plant material in the middle of a broken fishing line, ate the plant material, the line stayed in, the exposed fishing line fell into the water, hopefully the line will pass though this duck…

Image of the duck as the fishing line just fell into the water…

After a short rest on the ice and biting the line, the Redhead floats in the river…

Moments later it appears its eyes might be closed…

What was a bustling area, the river full of swimming ducks and geese immediately came to a halt, as they all knew there was trouble…

Redhead Ducks at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 10, 2020

I made a stop at the Fox River early morning in Waukesha to see if anything was going on. 9 Redheads, 5 males and 4 females were present, all resting near the dam. That area was the only part of the river that was not froze over with temps starting out at 10 degrees in the morning. A couple of quick dives and one stretch was the only excitement I saw while I was there for a few minutes. With the main river froze over, I’m sure the ducks were conserving energy by not being active. The river was probably open by noon with the warm sun shinning. Stunning ducks in their breeding plumage. The full sun made for a nice morning out! Images were taken on February 10, 2019.

Redhead, male

Both male and female just finishing up a drink…

A resting male…

Redhead, female

A close up…

Stretching…

More stretching…

A pair…

Incoming…

Some of the gang…

Long-eared Owl in SE Wisconsin on February 4, 2020

Today while out birding I stumbled across a Long-eared Owl. It always comes as a big surprise even if you are looking for them. As always, during the slow times of winter birding I spend many days just looking for owls in places off the wall, in places you would not think they would be. It was nice day, mostly cloudy with a slight wind out of the NE, temps around 30 degrees. This owl found in SE Wisconsin. Image was taken on February 4, 2020.

A Long-eared Owl looking like they always do…

Long-eared Owl

Binomial name: Asio otus

Category: Typical Owls

Size: 15” long, 36” wing span

Weight: 9 oz

Note: A proficient hunter, the Long-eared Owl catches mice in complete darkness by using sound to locate its prey!

Redhead Duck, juvenile drake at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 2, 2020

Ducks along the Fox River in Waukesha this morning had the common suspects, a 100 plus Mallards other than one duck that stood out, a Redhead, and juvenile drake. Not a stunning duck but still beautiful in it’s own way. It was nice to see something different. Also, a couple of 100 Canada Geese made for some noise along the river. It was a beautiful morning for the time I was out with sunny skies, low winds and temps at 45 plus degrees. Images were taken on February 2, 2020.

Redhead, juvenile drake…

Perched on a rock resting…

Up and looking around….

A turn to the right…a nice look at this duck…

Just cruising along looking pretty…

 

Head up!

Just moving around on the river in between the Mallards…

Hooded Merganser on the Fox River in Waukesha County on January 24, 2020

One of my birding stops today provided nice views of a male Hooded Merganser. It was hanging out with some Mallards along the Fox River in Waukesha. A few times it dove for something to eat and came up with a crayfish. The weather was misty with a few flurries mixed in, mild temps around 35 degrees with no wind. Images were taken on January 24, 2020.

Mr. Good Looking!

Cruising around off the ice…

Duck talk!

Up from a dive has a crayfish…

Tosses it around the get the right end to go down first…

Looking at me I guess…

A nice pose…

Harris’s Sparrow at the Mequon Nature Preserve in Ozaukee County Wisconsin on January 22, 2020

With not much going on bird wise I decided to try for the visiting Harris’s Sparrow that has been reported at the Mequon Nature Preserve. Normal range for the species is Minnesota west and south. After about 15 minutes the stunning male Harris’s Sparrow showed up with a small flock of American Tree Sparrows on the west end of the nature center. That viewing did not last long as all the birds were flushed by a vehicle coming through the parking lot. After about 30 minutes the birds returned briefly to an area on the south side of the nature center near a feeder. Not a life bird for the state for me but still an exciting bird to see. It was partly cloudy with mild temps around 25 degrees with no wind, a pleasant morning out. Images were taken on January 22, 2020.

The Harris’s Sparrow, male

Cedar Waxwings eating berries at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on January 21, 2020

One of my birding stops today was Greenfield Park in Milwaukee. I came across a flock of Cedar Waxwings high in a tree. I noticed what was taking place, the Cedar Waxwings would take turns coming down to what I think were Buckthorn berries and eating just a couple of them. After a couple of berries for each bird, a short rest would take place high up in the tree, then they would repeat the feeding. Probably were getting the food down in them during the rest period. The Cedar Waxwings would pick through the berries and if they were not ripe, they would spit them out. The birds put on a nice show for the few minutes I watched then on a nice sunny day, low winds and temps around 23 degrees. Images were taken on January 21, 2020.

White-winged Scoter at the Petroleum Pier on Milwaukee’s Lakefront on December 28, 2019

Birding along the lakefront in Milwaukee this morning one of the highlights was a female White-winged Scoter neat the Petroleum Pier. It dove while I was there coming up with mussels to eat. A drab duck but always nice to see something different this time of year. Another species to note there were two Great Black-backed Gulls on ice in the Kinnickinnic River at Jones Island. A gloomy day with some light drizzle, mild temps of 40 degrees, and a light breeze while birding the lakefront this morning. Images were taken on December 28, 2019.

The female White-winged Scoter…

Just after a dive eating a mussel…a little white seen on a wing here…

Eating more mussels…

Trying to break apart the mussels here as numerous ones are stuck together…

White-winged Scoter with a blurry Greater Scaup female behind…

A distant shot of one of the two Great Black-backed Gulls present this morning…

Townsend’s Solitaire at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corner in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on December 16, 2019

A Townsend’s Solitaire, a rare visitor was recently reported at the Boerner Botanical Gardens. I thought with birding slow in general it was a good opportunity check for this one. After about 2 1/2 hours the Townsend’s Solitaire came out of no where from the west and dropped into a small berry tree. It ate a few berries, maybe 3-4 quickly and perched at the top of a large deciduous tree. It repeated this twice and then a Red-tailed Hawk flew near the area and the Townsend’s Solitaire disappeared.  I hung around for a few more minutes and left the area. It was a gloomy morning, a good breeze and temps in the low 20’s, making feel like December weather. Images were taken on December 16, 2019.

Townsend’s Solitaire

Binomial name: Myadestes townsendi

Category: Thrushes

Size: 8.5” long, 14.5” wingspan

Weight: 1.2 Oz.

Note: What makes this bird a rare visitor? The normal range for the Townsend’s Solitaire is mountainous regions in the western US.

Red-tailed Hawk at the Christmas Bird Count at Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 15, 2019

It was a fun morning for everyone counting birds for the Christmas Bird Count at the Wehr Nature Center. The highlight during my counting was a stunning adult Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree hunting. The hawk gave nice views for a few moments with eyes always moving around waiting to find the next meal. Bird counts were slow for the day but still fun getting together with some good friends birding. It was a chilly morning starting out at about 18 degrees, little wind, but had sun which gave some warmth. Images were taken on December 15, 2019.

Red-tailed Hawk perched looking for its next meal…

Mouth stretching…

Looking around the woods, waiting for something to move…

In search of food….waiting…

Snowy Owl at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 3, 2019

Birding Lakeshore State Park this morning in Milwaukee I came across a Snowy Owl sitting on a deck. I hide out of sight and took a couple of shots. A walker with a dog on a leash near the area must have caught the eyes of the Snowy Owl as it suddenly flew off. It was a brief moment to see this beautiful Snowy Owl. This Snowy Owl looks like the one I photographed in a different area along the lake yesterday. It was a beautiful morning with cloudy skies to state giving way to sun later in the morning with temps around 30 degrees, but a stiff west wind. Images were taken on December 3, 2019.

The Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl possibly looking at the walker with the dog on a leash ahead.

Snowy Owl along the lakefront in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 2, 2019

Birding along the lakefront in Milwaukee this morning it was a nice surprise to find a Snowy Owl. 1st one of the winter for me. It was resting and I let it be. I did take a couple of images at a safe distance to share. It was cloudy this morning, light breeze and mild temps for this time of year. Images were taken on December 2, 2019.

The Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Binomial name: Bubo scandiacus

Category: Typical Owls

Description: Adult males are mostly white with a few dark feather tips.  Adult females and juveniles are white with dark scalloping on chest, back, wings, and tail.  Yellow eyes, black beak, and feathery feet.

Size: 20”- 28” long, 49” – 59” wingspan

Weight: 3.5 lb. – 6.6 lb.

Habitat: Wide open, treeless spaces such as shorelines, lakes, open fields, and agricultural sites.

Ruddy Duck on the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on November 22, 2019

An early stop at the Fox River in Waukesha provided nice views of a female Ruddy Duck. It has been hanging around for a couple of days just sleeping in the middle of the river. This morning it was moving around with some Mallards. Sorta drab duck, the males in spring are stunning with black and white on the head with a blue bill! It was a pleasant morning with mild temps, partly cloudy skies and low winds. Images were taken on November 22, 2019.

Ruddy Duck, female

Ruddy Duck, female

Ruddy Duck, female

Ruddy Duck, female, another shot…

Hooded Merganser in Waukesha County Wisconsin on November 20, 2019

One of my birding stops today in Waukesha County along a river. It had a stunning male Hooded Merganser that was hanging out with Mallards. The Hooded Merganser gave nice views, I witnessed very little feeding, only once I saw part of a crayfish in its bill when it came up after diving. It was a beautiful day out, almost spring like, with full sun and little wind, temps about 47 degrees. Images were taken on November 20, 2019.

Hooded Merganser, male with his mouth open…

What a beautiful duck, hood up!

Resting…

Swallowing water from a drink…

Cedar Waxwings Eating Berries at Port Washington in Ozaukee County Wisconsin on November 13, 2019

One of my birding stops today was Port Washington. Literally 100’s of Red-breasted Mergansers provided action in the harbor but the highlight was Cedar Waxwings eating Red Cedar berries at Coal Dock Park. The waxwings for the most part just perched in a few trees and occasion would go for a berry. I always notice that the waxwings will pick through the berries, pick them and find they are all not ripe and toss them. A few times a hand full of waxwings went down to a open creek for a drink of water.  It was a chilly day out, cloudy skies with temps around 20 and strong winds from the south while I was there. Images were taken on November 13, 2019.

Cedar Waxwing, adult, just perched pretty…

Cedar Waxwing, juvenile with a Red Cedar berry…

Cedar Waxwing, juvenile swallowing the Red Cedar berry…

Cedar Waxwing, juvenile leaves the Red Cedar tree with a berry…

Cedar Waxwing, juvenile with a Red Cedar berry…

Cedar Waxwing, adult

Cedar Waxwings, adults getting a drink of water…

Cedar Waxwing, adult getting a drink of water…

Cedar Waxwing, adult getting a drink of water…

After the drink…

Cedar Waxwing, adult testing the ripeness of the berry…

Cedar Waxwing, adult tossing the berry, maybe it was not ripe…

Cedar Waxwing, juvenile all fluffed up…

Cedar Waxwing, adult…just perched in the cold…

Cedar Waxwing, adult perched in between eating berries…

Horned Larks at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on November 1, 2019

While birding Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee the highlight of the walk were two adult Horned Larks feeding on seeds in the grass in the snow. On one occasion I saw one eat an insect, so they are not strictly seed eaters. They pulled seeds off of plants and ate nicely while I watched from a distance until a jogger not knowingly flush them off a ways. It was partly cloudy, low winds and temps around 30 degrees. Images were taken on November 1, 2019.

Horned Lark, one of two present…

Horned Lark

Binomial name: Eremophila alpestri

Category: Chickadees and Titmice

Size: 7.25” long, 12” wing span

Weight:  1.1 oz

Picking seeds off of a plant and eating them…

Seed in the bill…

Getting another seed off the plant….

Another seed in the bill…

Another seed in the bill…

They were in a grass area for a moment…

Insect in the bill here…

A closer look…

American Pipits at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on November 1, 2019

A stop at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee along the lakefront provided views of 2 American Pipits. Thinking these are 1st winter birds…They fed along the beach clutter along the shore finding things to eat. Ring-billed Gulls were in the same area and slightly harassed the pipits on occasion flushing them. Nice to see something different for a change. Images were taken on November 1, 2019.

American Pipit

American Pipit

Binomial name: Anthus rubescens

Category: Sandpipers, Phalaropes, and Allies

Size: 6.5” long, 10.5” wing span

Weight: .74 Oz.

Note: Pipits are found on all continents, except Antarctica

Finding things to each with a Ring-billed Gull nearby…

Looking for something to eat…

The two American Pipits perched on a log just looking around…

Something in the bill to eat…

Just looking pretty!

Pied-billed Grebe at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on October 1, 2019

On a walk this morning at Lakeshore State Park I noticed a Pied-billed Grebe feeding along the cattails. It did its normal feeding routine of diving for 15-30 seconds presumably getting something to eat and then resurfacing for a longer time. A fairly quiet day at the park other than a handful of White-crowned Sparrows I saw feeding from a distance on seeds from the wildflowers. At the park it was mild temps and a light drizzle with low winds. Images were taken on October 1st 2019.

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe, adult

Just up from a dive!