Killdeer Eating and Preening in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on March 27, 2020

One of my birding stops in Milwaukee County gave nice looks at a pair of Killdeer. They preened, rested and found things to eat while I was present watching from a distance. These birds poked along in gravelly areas sometimes with some grass mixed in to picking things up to eat. They eat so fast it is hard to see most of the time of what they are eating. I noticed worms were a favorite and some kind of larva maybe were available today. It was a gloomy day, low winds and temps around 40 degrees. Images were taken on March 27, 2020.

A Killdeer preening…

Preening, straightening out those feathers…

Every last one of them…

Just looking pretty…

More preening…

Shaking off…

Grooming…

Something in the bill…

More in the bill…

A worm for something to eat, yummy!

Something else to eat…

Hooded Merganser at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on March 22, 2020

One of my birding stops today was at the Fox River in downtown Waukesha. As I came around the corner in the car standing in front of me in the middle of the road, a Hooded Merganser, a male with a female Mallard. Is this “Hollyhood”?? Before I got parked both ducks were off into the middle of the river being ducks. The Hooded Merganser seemed to be checking out numerous females Mallards and doing some displaying, trying to show off but none of the females seemed to be impressed or interested. After a few minutes, the Hooded Merganser just took off and flew to the north up the river out of sight. It was a cold breezy morning with temps hanging around 32 degrees, with no sun. Images were taken on March 22, 2020.

Hooded Merganser, male, is this Hollyhood?

On shore for a moment…

The back view…

Displaying…

Sees a female Mallard, in a hurry…

 

Northern Harrier in the South Kettle Moraine in Waukesha County Wisconsin on March 21, 2020

Birding out in the South Kettle Moraine in Waukesha County today I had the pleasure of watching a pair of Northern Harriers. As I watched them at a distance they did some serious hunting and maybe captured something to eat on the ground as they all of the sudden they disappeared. Also called Marsh Hawks, I captured only a fraction of the great show they put on as their hunting activities moved to far away for decent photos. It was a cold morning starting out at 21 degrees, even the full sun did not warm things up because of the stiff wind out of the northwest. Images were taken on March 21, 2020.

Northern Harrier…

Coming down to what be something to eat…

Eyes on something…

Getting closer…

Northern Shrike in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on March 17, 2020

Birding along the Menominee River Parkway in Milwaukee County I came across a Northern Shrike. It was fun to watch this bird as it seemed to have recently seen some prey in an area I was in. It perched on top of numerous deciduous trees and came down a few times too, perching near the ground on a log and then on the ground itself, sometimes even hidden. I never saw it leave with anything in it’s bill. Two times I heard it calling perched in some dense bushes. It was a beautiful day with full sun, temps around 40, but there was a breeze that kept things cold. Some miscellaneous shots of the bird today…Images were taken on March 17, 2020.

Northern Shrike, some blood on the bill too…

The Northern Shrike calling…

 

 

Trumpeter Swans at Frame Park in Waukesha Wisconsin on March 4, 2020

At ​Frame Park today in Waukesha along the Fox River a couple of Trumpeter Swans had come in since my morning visit. ​Sometimes it pays to check places out twice in one day! ​Always nice to see something different as everyone is anxious for the start of spring migration. These 2 – 1st summer birds floated down the middle of the river when I arrived. After some distance they stopped and did some feeding. Canada Geese joined them in the area as food must have been plentiful. They did not do much other than a little preening and the feeding. A bright sunny day finally with not much wind and temps around 40 degrees. Images were taken on March 4, 2020.

Trumpeter Swans the pair…

Just up from something to eat…

Some preening…

Both underwater getting something to eat, aquatic plants…

Looking pretty…

Just a nice look…

The close-up…

More preening…

I would call this a short scoot…

Just up from eating some aquatic plants…

Another view…

Trumpeter Swans the pair…

Sandhill Cranes in Waukesha County Wisconsin on February 27, 2020

While birding out in Waukesha County I came across some Sandhill Cranes on the Bark River. They were just hanging out doing some preening and catching food too. Temperature was 9 degrees so it makes sense this is a place they could spend some time in a flowing river. A couple of the cranes worked a river bank probing in the mud finding things to eat. A couple of times I also watched them probe and grab things to eat right out of the middle of the flowing river. Interesting to see their heads go completely under water just like a heron species. There were 4 cranes present and then a 5th one arrived. Seconds before the 5th one arrived, 2 of the cranes started their bugling call and it was looking like the 5th one was not really welcome with the group. I would guess that it was a territorial thing. The 5th one stayed off doing its own thing. A very cold morning to start at about 8 degrees a good wind, made it feel like the 1st of January. Images were taken on February 27, 2020.

Sandhill Cranes

Shaking off…

Shaking off…

Head under water, getting something to eat…

Comes up with something to eat in the middle of the river…

Sandhill Crane closeup…

Sandhill Cranes giving a loud, rattling bugle call…

Posing…

Sandhill Crane walking along the muddy river bank finding things to eat…

Probing in the mud for things to eat…

Preening…

Just up from being under the water…

A different kind of walk I saw more than once…

Swallowing water from a drink…

Going into the water…

Head under, getting something to eat…

Getting up on the ice…

I seriously think they are looking at the marsh area thinking, to early for building a nest huh??

Eastern Screech-Owl, red morph in the backyard in Waukesha County Wisconsin on February 27, 2020

After birding the morning in Waukesha County, it was a nice surprise to come home to a Eastern Screech-Owl in the backyard. I stayed about 100 feet away and took a couple of photos from the house. I put up 2 houses 3 years ago, finally there is a house guest in one of them. Hope it hangs around. A cold day with highs of only 23 degrees out here in Waukesha County, sun has been out most of the afternoon, with some wind. Images were taken on February 27, 2020.

Eastern Screech-Owl, red morph catching some sunshine…

At a distance, the owl stays perched watching…

Doing a chore in the yard the Eastern Screech Owl watches me, stayed perched here into the dark…

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.