Eastern Towhee at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on April 12, 2019

One of my birding stops today was the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. The highlight was a FOY Eastern  Towhee. Update: The female Eastern Towhee was photographed at the same location on April 15, 2109. This male put on a nice show eating seeds as I watched from a distance. Another highlight was at least 25 Northern Flickers that were feeding in a field. As I walked a path on the property they flushed from distance in a field. They flushed twice as I did not know they were there till they started taking off. They appeared to just fly to another area there. A Great Horned Owl made an appearance along with a Belted Kingfisher, Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, a flock of 12 Wild Turkeys, with males displaying and Yellow-rumped Warblers to name a few. Stops along the lakefront earlier were very quiet bird-wise with nothing special to report other than a couple of Horned Grebes. I made my first stop of the spring at the Magic Hedge, it was bird-less. Weather was nice early in the morning but then before noon, it got overcast, windy and a north wind made it chilly. Still a nice day to be out birding. Images were taken on April 12, 2019.

Eastern Towhee, female

Eastern Towhee, female

Eastern Towhee, female

The Eastern Towhee near a feeder looking for seeds…

Getting a seed probably…

Looking for seeds…

Near a puddle the Eastern Towhee looks for seeds…

Tail up…

Pretty bird!

Getting a seed in the water maybe…

Eurasian Tree Sparrows in Lafayette County Wisconsin on February 25, 2019

A species I have always wanted to get on my life list was the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. It finally happened after following up an ebird report from Quentin Y on 2/23/19, thank you Quentin! With the winter like weather we have been having, it took till today, the 25th to get out there. The location is about 14841 East State Line Road in South Wayne Lafayette County. Illinois is on one side of the road, Wisconsin on the other if I am correct. I arrived about 7:00 am. I drove up and down the road very slow coming across flocks of 20 or so birds, mostly Dark-eyed Juncos, with a few American Tree Sparrows mixed in. With the flocks being so large and ice breaking on the road as I rolled along, it was difficult to get near them as they would flush from a distance and with a few cars going by too. After about 45 minutes, I spotted a Eurasian Tree Sparrow in one of the flocks on the side of the road. Of course, it was on the Illinois side of the road! I parked for the most part and waited and waited, finally a group formed in front of me down the road and I noticed a Eurasian Tree Sparrow was in that flock.  From the vehicle I took a few distant shots staying back a ways with out flushing them. Things quieted down and I looked up and a American Kestrel was perched up in a tree above me. Surprisingly Dark-eyed Juncos flew in the same tree as the Kestrel being only 8-10 feet way. They must know there safety zone from the Kestrel with branches in the way I guess.  The Kestrel stayed perched there for 20 minutes, maybe waiting for a Dark-eyed Junco forget that he was there and be in the open. I left the area at that point. To say the least, it was exciting to see this bird and finally get it on my state life list. Other birds seen in the area, 200~ Horned Larks and 5 Lapland Longspurs. It was a cloudy day, very cold with temps about 11 degrees, very little wind, but I was in the car the whole time so not to bad out there. Images were taken on February 25, 2019.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow, in the middle with a American Tree Sparrow behind, with Dark-eyed Juncos, sorry for the watermark…

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Binomial name: Passer montanus

Category: Old World Sparrows

Size: 6” long, 8.75” wing span

Weight: .77 oz

Cool facts: The Eurasian Tree Sparrow from Europe was released in St. Louis, Missouri area in 1870. It became established there. Unlike its close relative, the House Sparrow, it never spread very far from the original point of being released. It is said now that this species is very slowly moving up the Mississippi River northward and breeding.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow in the middle with a American Tree Sparrow on the right and Dark-eyed Juncos…

Eurasian Tree Sparrow in the middle with Dark-eyed Juncos…

Distant shot of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow eating weed seeds with Dark-eyed Junco’s along the shoulder of the road…

Lapland Longspur

Horned Lark in the middle and Lapland Longspurs on each side…

Dark-eyed Junco eating Staghorn Sumac seeds at Lake Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on January 26, 2019

One of my birding stops this morning was Lake Park in Milwaukee, about the only place that there were birds seen and that was slim. The highlight if you can believe it was a Dark-eyed Junco, but it was doing something I had never witnessed before. It was eating Staghorn Sumac seeds off a plant there. Could be common thing, I just have never seen it. It was brief but I did get a couple of shots of the event to share. Other birds near the feeder by the statue that was full of seed were White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, more Dark-eyed Juncos and Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers. Along the lakefront things were pretty much froze up except for an area just off North Point. There were a few Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup and Bufflehead. I saw ONE Gull along the lakefront flying far off in a distance. My short birding run along the lake was Lake Park south to South Shore Yacht Club where 20 Canada Geese were loafing on the ice. Note: It amazes me how many bird species use the native Staghorn Sumac plant for either berries-fruit or seed. It was a bitter cold morning as when I got on the road it was -10 F. Winds were calm so it was not to bad out there. Images were taken on January 26, 2019.

Dark-eyed Junco eating a Staghorn Sumac seed.

Dark-eyed Junco picking a Staghorn Sumac seed off the plant.

Just being a Dark-eyed Junco

Grasshopper Sparrow at the Magic Hedge in Milwaukee Wisconsin on May 3, 2017

I hit the lakefront in Milwaukee early this morning and the bird of the day I guess was this one. It actually had 4 different names today, coming from the “Magic Hedge”, who knows I guess, but it is a Grasshopper Sparrow. It gave very brief views for about 10 seconds and that was it. Other birders were right next to me but just did not see it. Images were taken on May 3, 2017.

Back view…

Eastern Towhee at Lake Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on April 13, 2017

Birding along the lakefront in Milwaukee this morning one of the highlights was a FOY Eastern Towhee, male at Lake Park. It was a pretty gloomy day and cool. Other birds to note, a lot of Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets and still a few Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Images were taken on April 13, 2017.

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Eastern Towhee

Binomial name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Category: emberizids

Size: 8.5” long, 10.5” wing span

Weight: 1.4 oz

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White-throated Sparrow at Lake Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on April 10, 2017

Doing some birding at Lake Park in Milwaukee this morning I came across a stunning White-throated Sparrow. The first of the year for me. I never saw this bright of a yellow on a White-throated Sparrow before. It hung around scratching for food while I was there. Images were taken on April 10, 2017

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White-throated Sparrow

Binomial name: Zonotrichia albicollis

Category: Emberizids

Size: 6.75” long, 9” wing span

Weight: 0.91 Oz.

Note: Sexes are unknown by colors

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Scratching for food

Scratching for food, something they do…

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Head on

Head on

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Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco at Grant Park in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on February 8, 2017

Making a stop today at Grant Park in Milwaukee County a Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco made a brief appearance at the feeder there. The junco was present for about 30 seconds and then it left. I hung around for about 20 minutes and it did not reappear. The feeder was empty but there were birds around finding things to eat. I photographed a Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco at the same location on December 15, 2016. This image was taken on February 8, 2017.

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco

December 15, 2016 image below

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco photographed on December 15, 2016

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon

Binomial name: Junco hyemalis

Category: Emberizids

Size: 6.25” long, 9.25” wing span

Weight:  .67 oz

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon Junco at Grant Park in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on December 15, 2016

On a routine bird run along the lakefront in Milwaukee this morning the highlight was the Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon Junco) at Grant Park in Milwaukee County. It was mixed in with about a dozen Common Dark-eyed Juncos. The Oregon is a subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco who’s normal range is from central Iowa to the west coast. It was cool to see this bird as I have never seen one before. Not considered a countable bird as it is a subspecies. Images were taken on December 15, 2016.

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon

Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon

Binomial name: Junco hyemalis

Category: Emberizids

Size: 6.25” long, 9.25” wing span

Weight:  .67 oz

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Dark-eyed Junco, Oregon, on a rock

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Birding at the Milwaukee Community Garden on November 23, 2015

One of my birding stops today was the Milwaukee Community Garden off of Rawson Ave in Milwaukee County. I hung out there for a while and enjoyed all the different species of birds picking and eating weed seeds off the dead stalks. The roads were open and I made a few passes though there. No sign of the Northern Shrike but a few Red-tailed Hawks were in the area. All these birds work way to hard! Images were taken on November 23, 2015.

Northern Cardinal, male

Northern Cardinal, male

Northern Cardinal, female

Northern Cardinal, female

White-crowned Sparrow, male

White-crowned Sparrow, male eating weed seeds

 

White-crowned Sparrow, male

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, male getting that seed!

White-crowned Sparrow, adult getting that seed!

White-crowned Sparrow, male eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, female

White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, female eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile

White-crowned Sparrow, female

White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile

American Tree Sparrow picking and eating weed seeds

American Tree Sparrow picking and eating weed seeds

American Tree Sparrow picking and eating weed seeds

American Tree Sparrow picking and eating weed seeds

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

House Finch, male

House Finch, male

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch picking and eating seeds

American Goldfinch at takeoff

American Goldfinch at takeoff

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow eating weed seeds

American Tree Sparrow eating weed seeds

American Tree Sparrow eating weed seeds

Savannah Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow on alert!

White-crowned Sparrow adult on alert!

Fox Sparrow in Marquette County Wisconsin on November 21, 2015

I spent a short time at a local birding spot in Marquette County Wisconsin and it was very slow. One occasion a Fox Sparrow showed and gave nice views. Red-headed Woodpeckers are still hanging around but I did not pursue them. 5 American Bald Eagles have been hanging around too in the area seeing them regularly. Lots of Blue Jays, they are still grabbing acorns of the oak trees and storing them. At least 2 adults and 4 juveniles, it will be interesting if they will be here in spring. A light snow last night, winter is here. Images were taken on November 21, 2015.

Fox Sparrow made a stop. Typically I bird I usually see on the ground feeding.

Fox Sparrow, typically a bird I usually see on the ground feeding.

Fox Sparrow

Binomial name: Passerella iliaca

Category: Emberizids

Size: 7” long, 10.5” wing span

Weight: 1.1 oz

Note: I have heard it so many times, “Fox Sparrow is my favorite sparrow”

Fox Sparrow, back view

Fox Sparrow, back view

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay looking back

Blue Jay looking back

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Blue Jay in the late afternoon sun

White-crowned Sparrows on the Milwaukee Lakefront on September 30, 2015

Birding on the Milwaukee lakefront this morning was quiet. The only birds to note were some White-crowned Sparrows, adults and 1st winter birds and I also saw a few small flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos. The White-crowned Sparrows were feeding near a tall grass area and jumped out once in awhile for some weed seeds. I came across a few other birders and results were the same, a slow morning. With the strong northeast winds bringing in the colder temps I thought there might have been a couple of surprise birds this morning. Images of the White-crowned Sparrows were taken on September 30, 2015.

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White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow

Binomial name: Zonotrichia leucophrys

Category: Emberizids

Size: 7” long, 9.5” wing span

Weight: 1 oz

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter, being alert and standing tall something alarmed it

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter eating weed seeds but
became being alert after it heard something

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter, eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, adult eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter, eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, 1st winter, eating weed seeds

White-crowned Sparrow, adult

White-crowned Sparrow, adult

White-throated Sparrow

I recently did some birding at the Fox River Parkway South in Waukesha Wisconsin. There where numerous White-throated Sparrows present with nice views. A flock of approximately 6-12 birds at different times moved around the woods while I was there. The sparrows scratched the ground finding seeds to eat that have worked their way under leaves and surface ground cover over the winter. Photographs taken on April 29, 2014.

White-throated Sparrow - adult white and black striped variation

White-throated Sparrow – adult white and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow

Binomial name: Zonotrichia albicollis

Category: Sparrows

Size: 6.75” long, 9” wing span

Weight: 0.91 Oz.

Habitat: Woods, forest edges, pond edges and tree lines in brushy under growth. Breeding range is the far northern areas of the Midwest states in the US and the lower two-thirds of Canada. The winter range for this species is Southern US from New Mexico through northern IN to the east coast of the US.

Diet: Mainly seeds from grasses and weeds, sometimes fruits seeds.

Nesting: The nest is constructed by the female usually and on the ground, it is cup shaped. The location is usually under a bush, shrub or dead vegetation but concealed by leaves. Materials used are mosses, sticks, pine needles, and grasses. 1-6 eggs pale green and spotted are laid and incubated from 10-14 days, 1-2 broods.

Cool Facts: There are two forms of this sparrow. One is the white and black striped head, the other tan and black striped head regardless of sex. Young birds and females are just duller in color. They both variations have the white colored throat. A frequent visitor to the backyard feeder in migration to some parts of the US.

White-throated Sparrow - adult white and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow – adult white and black striped variation with seed in mouth.

White-throated Sparrow - adult tan and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow – adult tan and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow - adult white and black striped variation - back view.

White-throated Sparrow – adult white and black striped variation – back view.

White-throated Sparrow - adult white and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow – adult white and black striped variation with seed in mouth.

White-throated Sparrow - adult tan and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow – adult tan and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow - adult white and black striped variation, scratching for seeds.

White-throated Sparrow – adult white and black striped variation, scratching for seeds.

White-throated Sparrow - adult white and black striped variation.

White-throated Sparrow – adult white and black striped variation.

Birdwatching in Marquette County

While birdwatching in Marquette County, I was able to photograph Eastern Bluebirds, a Red-headed Woodpecker, and others on October 26, 2013. Images were taken near a small water source where birds were coming and going, bathing, preening and drinking.

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Eastern Bluebird

 

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Eastern Bluebird

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Red-headed Woodpecker, Juvenile transitioning to the red head

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Blue Jay

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Blue Jay

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Dark-eyed Junco

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Blue Jay

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Black-capped Chickadee

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Eastern Bluebird

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Eastern Bluebird

To see the gallery of images, please click here.

Harris’s Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow photographed at Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha, WI on September 25th and 26th, 2013.

Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

Binomial name: Zonotrichia querula

Category: Emberizids

Description: Brown face and back, both overlaid with black markings especially crown, face, and throat.  White on wings and underparts.  Pink bills and legs.

Size: 6.7″ – 7.9″ long, 11” wingspan

Weight: 0.92 oz. – 1.7 oz.

Habitat: Coniferous forests and tundras adjacent to bogs

Diet: Seeds, especially grass seeds, fruits, pine needles, and flower parts.  Scratches the ground to forage for food.

Nesting: Nests are built on the ground under the protection of a coniferous bush or in a bed of grasses.  Both parents construct the nest in mid-June using materials such as sticks, grasses, moss, and lichens.   The female will lay 3-5 eggs at a time, laying eggs at the end of June to the middle of July.  The young remain in the nest for about 3 weeks before becoming completely independent of their parents.

Notes: “Harris’s Sparrow” is named after ornithologist Edward Harris.  This bird will live nearly 12 years in the wild if not caught by a predator.  And, Harris’s Sparrow only breeds in Canada, the only bird to do so.

Harris's Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow

Please click here to see the gallery of images.

Lark Sparrow

A Lark Sparrow was found by a local birder on the oval running track at Lake Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin. It is a place I check often now as birds obviously stop at this location. The Lark Sparrow not common at all here is found on rare occasions during spring migration. This bird appeared to be feeding on weed seed on the track. This was a life bird for many birders that day that were present. If my memory is correct, Paul Sparks found this bird. Images were taken on April 27, 2013.

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Lark Sparrow

Binomial name: Chondestes grammacus

Category: Emberizids

Size: 6.5″ long, 11” wingspan

Weight: 1 oz

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Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow

This Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow was found by local birders during spring migration at Lake Park. The exact location of this bird was at the east end of the “Magic Hedge”. The Magic Hedge is a line of deciduous trees running perpendicular with Lake Michigan just south of the Milwaukee Water Filtration Plant. It hung around for most of the day and was a life bird for many. Images were taken on May 18, 2013.

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Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow

Binomial name: Ammodramus nelsoni

Category: Sparrows

Size: 5″ long, 7” wingspan

Weight: 0.6 oz

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