Great Horned Owls, a Nesting Pair in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on February 14, 2019

It was nice to come across a pair of nesting Great Horned Owls late morning. The female was on the nest while the male was perched high in a spruce tree about 100 feet away. First nesting pair of the year for me. It was a beautiful day, almost felt like spring. Temps around 40, started out with a little sun but clouded over around noon, low winds.

The female Great Horned Owl on the nest…

The male Great Horned Owl near the nest resting peacefully and watching the area too…

Long-eared Owls in Wisconsin on February 6, 2019

While out birding I was surprised to come across a Long-eared Owl. It was perched in a tree, it just stared at me like they always do. I quickly took a couple of shots. A few thin branches were between the owl and I, but that is how it goes sometimes. As I was walking away, a glance to the left of the owl, there was another Long-eared Owl. A couple shots of that one and I left the area, the owls still perched as I found them. It was a cloudy gloomy day with a mild breeze, temps around 30 degrees. Images were taken on February 6, 2019.

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!

Long-eared Owl, the 2nd one found…

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

Northern Saw-whet Owl in Wisconsin on January 12, 2019

On winter days when birding is slow I spend a lot of hours for weeks looking for the Northern Saw-whet Owl. I found this beautiful owl doing just that. I had views for less than 2 minutes before it left the tree. I was looking down at my camera to check the exposure, heard a flutter and had just a glimpse of it flying off. I spent a few minutes quietly looking to an area it went to with no luck. Images were taken on January 12, 2019.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Binomial name: Aegolius acadicus

Category: Typical Owls

Size: 8” long, 17” wing span

Weight: 2.8 oz

Cool facts: Smallest owl in North America with a cat like face that is highly nocturnal and seldom seen.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Great Horned Owls paired up in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on January 20, 2019

Doing some general birding today I came across a pair of Great Horned Owls out catching some sun in Milwaukee County. It was one of the cold winter days just after some freshly fallen snow with plenty of sunshine, very little wind. It made for a pleasant day for birding. Image was taken on January 20, 2019.

American Robin enjoying the sunshine in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on January 10, 2019

While out birding I came across a flock of American Robins in Milwaukee County enjoying the sunshine and finding things to eat. It was cold morning with temps in the teens and a stiff winds out of the west, and partly cloudy. Image was taken on January 10, 2019

American Robin standing next to a tree out of the wind…

Hooded Merganser at the Fox River in Waukesha on January 1, 2019

I did some general birding on the first of the new year and it was pretty quiet. The highlight of the day was a Hooded Merganser, some say it’s “Hollyhood”! Some birding on the Milwaukee lakefront produced an adult Iceland Gull at South Shore Yacht Club. That was about it for birds to note on a very cold morning with temps around 20 and stiff winds from the west, it was cloudy. Images were taken on January 1, 2019.

Hooded Merganser, male

Wet head, just after some head dipping…

Iceland Gull in flight, note white wing tips at the South Shore Yacht Club…

Wisconsin birding, the year in review 2018. Includes vagrants, special visitors or just the beautiful birds that either nest here or migrate through the state of Wisconsin.

I have put together a collection of some of the Wisconsin birding moments from the year 2018. The collection includes vagrants, special visitors, or just the beautiful birds that nest here or migrate through the state of Wisconsin. All images were taken in 2018. It was a very exciting year with the birds and also birding with some old birding friends and meeting some new ones, too. Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. When putting this post together, once again, it amazes me what birds were seen this year here in Wisconsin!

Common Redpoll at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on January 6, 2018

Red-breasted Nuthatch at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on January 6, 2018

Long-eared Owl in Milwaukee County on January 8, 2018

Red-bellied Woodpecker, male at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on January 12, 2018

Red-bellied Woodpecker, female at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on January 12, 2018

Greater Scaup, male at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on January 14, 2018

Greater Scaup, female at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on  January 14, 2018

Common Redpoll at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on January 16, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, grey morph in Milwaukee County on January 17, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, grey morph in Milwaukee County on January 17, 2018

Glaucous Gull, 1st cycle at Johnson Creek in Jefferson County on January 18, 2018

Red Crossbill, male eating cone seeds on a spruce tree at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on January 21, 2018

Red Crossbills, male (red), 2 females (yellow-green) on a spruce tree at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on January 21, 2018

Northern Saw-whet Owl in Milwaukee County on January 19, 2018.

Northern Saw-whet Owl in Milwaukee County on January 19, 2018

Northern Saw-whet Owl in Milwaukee County on January 19, 2018

Townsend’s Solitaire perched pretty at the UW Arboretum in Madison in Dane County on January 31, 2018

Belted Kingfisher fishing in Waukesha County on February 8, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph at Grant Park in Milwaukee County on February 12, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, grey morph at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on February 14, 2018

Clark’s Nutcracker, a very rare visitor to the state in Oneida County on February 17, 2018. Last known state record was said to be 45 years ago.

Clark’s Nutcracker, a very rare visitor to the state in Oneida County on February 17, 2018

Clark’s Nutcracker, a very rare visitor to the state with White-tailed Deer fat in Oneida County on February 17, 2018

Barred Owl in Milwaukee County on February 18, 2018

American Robin getting a grip on the berry before eating at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on February 22, 2018

White-winged Scoter, male at the South Shore Yacht Club in Milwaukee County on February 25,2018

Common Goldeneye at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on February 25, 2018

Long-tailed Duck, female at Bender Park in Milwaukee County on February 26, 2018

The Long-tailed Duck just up from a dive, female at Bender Park in Milwaukee County on February 26, 2018

Hooded Merganser, male with the wind blowing at Frame Park in Waukesha on February 27, 2018

Laughing Gull, wet head just after some bathing at Port Washington in Ozaukee County on February 28, 2018

Laughing Gull, incoming to the beach area at Port Washington in Ozaukee County on February 28, 2018

Snowy Owl at the Lake Express in Milwaukee County on March 8, 2018

Red-winged Blackbird calling at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on March 4, 2018

Killdeer in Milwaukee County on March 8, 2018

The Snow Goose, juvenile at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on March 9, 2018

The Snow Goose, juvenile along with a Canada Goose at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on March 9, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl in Milwaukee County on March 10, 2018

American Robin tossing the worm around, checking if it was still alive at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on March 12, 2018

Black-capped Chickadee eating some Staghorn Sumac seeds at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on March 19, 2018

Great Horned Owl in the spotlight in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on March 23, 2018

Horned Grebe on the Fox River in Waukesha County on April 1, 2018

Hooded Merganser on the Fox River in Waukesha County on April 8, 2018

Hooded Merganser on the Fox River in Waukesha County on April 8, 2018

Pied-billed Grebe at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on April 10, 2018

Fox Sparrow, yard bird in Waukesha County on April 15, 2018

Brown Thrasher enjoying some bird seed in the yard in Waukesha County on April 15, 2018

Long-tailed Duck, male at McKinley Marina in Milwaukee County on April 16, 2018

Long-tailed Duck, male at McKinley Marina in Milwaukee County April 16, 2018

Bonaparte’s Gulls at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on April 16, 2018

American Woodcock with mud on the bill from probing through the snow for things to eat at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on April 17, 2018

American Woodcock at takeoff, at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on April 17, 2018

Caspian Tern at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on April 17, 2018

Northern Flicker eating Staghorn Sumac seeds at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on April 17, 2018

Northern Flicker eating Staghorn Sumac seeds at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on April 17, 2018

Ruddy Duck, male at the Fox River in Waukesha County on April 18, 2018

Great Egrets looking for a place to perch at Humboldt Park in Milwaukee County on April 19, 2018

Red-throated Loon nearing breeding plumage at McKinley Marina in Milwaukee County on April 20, 2018

Lincoln’s Sparrow at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on April 23, 2018

White-throated Sparrow at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on April 24, 2018

Great Horned Owl, adult female in Milwaukee County on April 27, 2018

The 3 Great Horned Owlets in Milwaukee County on April 27, 2018

Eastern Screech-Owl, grey morph resting peacefully in a natural cavity in Milwaukee County on April 29, 2018

Black-throated Green Warbler at the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 2, 2018

Blackpoll Warbler at the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 2, 2018

Magnolia Warbler at the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 2, 2018

Northern Waterthrush at the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 2, 2018

Eastern Bluebird, sitting pretty in Marquette County on May 3, 2018

Palm Warbler at Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 2, 2018

American Avocets, 11 of them at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on May 5, 2018

American Avocet at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on May 5, 2018

American Avocets, one feeding, two resting at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on May 5, 2018

American Avocet coming in for a landing at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on May 5, 2018

Swainson’s Thrush at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on May 6, 2018

Yellow Warbler at the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 6, 2018

Wilson’s Warbler at the Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 6, 2018

Common Yellowthroat Warbler at Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 6, 2018

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Wehr Nature Center in Milwaukee County on May 6, 2018

Yellow-throated Vireo in Marquette County on May 7, 2018

Sora at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on May 7, 2018

American Avocets 11, Willets 8, they made a brief stop at Lakeshore State Park as I was doing a walk through, they had been previously seen also on the 5th of May, on May 7, 2018

Prothonotary Warbler with a gnat in the bill at the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha County 0n May 9, 2018

Cape May Warbler at Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha County on May 9, 2018

Blackburnian Warbler at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on May 10, 2018

Willets at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on May 11, 2018

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on May 11, 2018

Magnolia Warbler at the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha County on May 13, 2018

Northern Parula at the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha County on May 13, 2018

American Redstart, male at the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha County on May 13, 2018

Chipping Sparrow in Marquette County on May 17, 2018

Western Tanager, male on a foggy morning at the Lion’s Den in Ozaukee County on May 22, 2018

Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Wehr Nature Center on May 25, 2018

American White Pelican at North Point Park in Sheboygan on May 29, 2018

American White Pelicans off the rock point at North Point Park in Sheboygan on May 29, 2018

Bobolink, male at the Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha County on May 29, 2018

Bobolink, female at the Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha County on May 29, 2018

Great Blue Heron eating a Goldfish at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on June 8, 2018

Red-headed Woodpecker leaving the nest hole after feeding young in Marquette County on June 11, 2018

Red-headed Woodpecker bringing insects to the young in a nest hole in Marquette County on June 11, 2018

Great Blue Heron perched pretty at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 3, 2018

Green Heron stalking its next meal at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 3, 2018

Mallard, duckling at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 3, 2018

Eastern Kingbird adult, middle, with young just leaving the nest at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 7, 2018

Great Blue Heron with a bite to eat at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 7, 2018

American Crow, albino at Nashotah Park in Waukesha County on July 7, 2018

American Crow, albino, at Nashotah Park in Waukesha County on July 7, 2018

American Crow, albino, one happy family at Nashotah Park in Waukesha County on July 7, 2018

Wood Duck, 2-3 month old female at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 7, 2018

Great Egret rookery high in the tree tops in Waukesha County on July 19, 2018

Cedar Waxwing at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 21, 2018

Great Blue Heron, eyeing up something to eat along the shore at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 24, 2018

Great Blue Heron, right before the gulp at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 24, 2018

Black-crowned Night-Heron, the reflection at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on July 30, 2018

Great Blue Heron, in coming at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on August 3, 2018

Green Heron attempts to eat a Bullfrog, but just a young bird could not get it down, at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on August 4, 2018

Great Egret with wings spread at the Menominee River Parkway in Milwaukee County on August 12, 2018

Great Egret landing at the Menominee River Parkway in Milwaukee County on August 12, 2018

Sandhill Crane, grass on the bill, just finished eating in the South Kettle Moraine Waukesha County on August 17, 2018

Osprey circling over the pond in search of food at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on August 18, 2018

Sanderling with something to eat at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on August 22, 2018

Lesser Yellowlegs in search of food at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on August 22, 2018

Semipalmated Plover lays on the sand trying to be flat and unnoticed as a predator must be around, it does this for about 10 seconds and I see its eyes look up on occasion at at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on August 22, 2018

Semipalmated Plover at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on August 22, 2018

Least Sandpiper at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on August 22, 2018

Black-crowned Night-Heron, juvenile at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on August 24, 2018

Black-crowned Night-Heron, juvenile, out drops the pellet at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on August 24, 2018

Black-crowned Night-Heron, juvenile with a vole at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on August 24, 2018

Baird’s Sandpiper resting at McKinley Beach on August 25, 2018

Spotted Sandpiper at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on August 25, 2018

Piping Plovers, it was said to be odd to see this bird not banded, looking pretty at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on August 29, 2018

Piping Plovers, it was said to be odd to see thes birds not banded, two of them at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on August 29, 2018

Piping Plover, the portrait in early morning sun at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on August 29, 2018

Red-tailed Hawk high in a tree on the lookout for something to eat at Bender Park in Milwaukee County on August 31, 2018

Great Blue Heron scuffle at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on September 2, 2018

Pectoral Sandpiper at Veterans Park in Milwaukee County on September 4, 2018

Pectoral Sandpiper, the close-up at Veterans Park in Milwaukee County on September 4, 2018

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, in the yard enjoying nectar from Bottle Gentian in Waukesha County on September 9, 2018

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, hovering near Bottle Gentian in Waukesha County on September 9, 2018

Red Knot, a rare visitor, this juvenile bird posing nicely at Racine North Beach in Racine County on September 11, 2018

Red Knot, the close-up, juvenile at Racine North Beach in Racine County on September 11, 2018

Sailbirding, the start of a new adventure in birding, that is birding from a sailboat and monitoring part of the breakwall habitat designed by the Army Corp of Engineering along with UWM on the Milwaukee lakefront. A fun time with great birders and friends, Sailor Carl Eisenberg, Jennifer Born Rutten, Marilyn B at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center in Milwaukee County on September 12, 2018

A Black-bellied Plover, a nice bird species seen on the breakwall while Sailbirding on the Milwaukee lakefront on September 12, 2018

Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Whitnall Park in Milwaukee County on September 14, 2018

Sanderling moving along the shoreline in search of food at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on September 19, 2018

Sanderling with something in the bill to eat at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on September 19, 2018

Sanderling with something to eat at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on September 19, 2018

Green Heron perched, waiting for something to come by to eat at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County on September 19, 2018

Green Heron with something to eat at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County on September 19, 2018

Red-tailed Hawk watching Raccoons below on a tree branch sleeping at Lake Park in Milwaukee County on September 24, 2018

Black-bellied Plover walking along the beach at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on September 27, 2018

Black-bellied Plover, the close-up, at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on September 27, 2018

Red-winged Blackbird, female eating Big Bluestem seeds at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on September 27, 2018

It was another Sailbirding adventure out to breakwall to monitor bird species with Sailors Carl Eisenberg and Helen Bolgrien and birders Jennifer Born Rutten, Ann Lowrey, Jym Mooney and myself at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center in Milwaukee County on September 28, 2018

Ruddy Turnstone, a nice bird species seen on the breakwall while Sailbirding on the Milwaukee lakefront on September 28, 2018

American Pipit searching the beach area for things to eat at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee County on October 5, 2018

Cackling Goose in the front, Canada Goose in the back at Veteran’s Park in Milwaukee County on October 5, 2018

It was another Sailbirding adventure out to breakwall to monitor bird species with Sailors Carl Eisenberg and Helen Bolgrien and birders Jennifer Born Rutten, Drew Shuster, Jym Mooney and myself at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center in Milwaukee County on October 12, 2018

Lesser Black-backed Gull found on the breakwall while Sailbirding on the Milwaukee lakefront on October 12, 2018

Dunlin at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on October 19, 2018

The Dunlin, the close-up at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on October 19, 2018

Cooper’s Hawk bathing at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on October 22, 2018

Snow Goose, blue morph with a bill full of grass at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on October 22, 2018

Snow Goose, blue morph coming in for a landing at Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County on October 22, 2018

Snow Buntings in search of seeds at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on October 23, 2018

Snow Buntings eating seeds at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee County on October 23, 2018

Red-bellied Woodpecker in Marquette County on November 9, 2018

White-breasted Nuthatch in Marquette County on November 17, 2018

Tundra Swans at Grobschmidt Park in Milwaukee County on November 11, 2018

The Rufous Hummingbird in Fox Point in Milwaukee County on November 12, 2018

American Kestrel at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on November 13, 2018

A sleeping Eastern Screech Owl, gray morph at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County on November 14, 2018

Hooded Merganser, male at the Fox River in Waukesha County on November 24, 2018

Wild Turkey displaying at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County on November 30, 2018

A Wild Turkey perched high up in a tree near a ravine at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County on November 30, 2018

Long-tailed Duck, female at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee County on December 3, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph in Milwaukee County on December 10, 2018

Hammond’s Flycatcher, a very rare visitor to the state in Iowa County on December 11, 2018. The first Wisconsin record of this species.

Long-eared Owl in Wisconsin on December 14, 2018

Great Horned Owl in Milwaukee County on December 16, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, grey morph with blood on the bill at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County on December 17, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph in Milwaukee County on December 17, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph in Milwaukee County on December 17, 2018

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph in Milwaukee County on December 18, 2018

Long-tailed Duck, female at McKinley Marina on December 28, 2018

Mourning Dove, leucistic, a yard bird in Waukesha County on December 29, 2018

Screech Owl, grey morph seen on a bird walk at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County on December 31, 2018

Leucistic Mourning Dove, a yard bird in Waukesha County on December 29, 2018

Just as I was ready to leave the house for birding this morning, something outside caught my eye. 3 Mourning Doves had just landed in a tree near the feeders and one was leucistic. It dropped down to one of the feeders and started eating seeds. What a nice surprise it was! After only a couple of minutes a Gray Squirrel dropped down to another feeder and flushed the 3 doves away. I found it interesting that Mourning Doves frequent the yard daily, usually 3-8 is common. I would assume they are typically the same birds, why would you think differently. I found out this is not true as this leucistic bird has never been seen here before. I hung around a while but the bird did not return. All images were shot through a window. Images were taken on December 29, 2018.

Mourning Dove, leucistic

With seed in the bill…

Comes down from the tree branch and looks at the feeder from above…

Takes a peek at the seed on the feeder…

Looks at all the good things to eat in the feeder…Interesting, one tan tail feather and one white tail feather!

What is Leucism?  Leucism is an uncommon condition in birds.  This condition is caused by a genetic mutation which prevents pigments, particularly melanin, from being deposited evenly in the bird’s feathers.  Leucistic birds have melanin elsewhere in their bodies which is why they may have dark eyes, legs, and bills.  However, their true color will be missing or greatly reduced due to the lack of proper pigmentation.

What is Albinism? Leucism is similar to albinism as in both cases the birds may be completely white.  However, albinism is defined as a complete absence of melanin in an animal.  Truly albino species will have pink eyes as the only color seen will be caused by blood vessels behind their eyes.  They will also have pink bills, legs, and feet.  Albinism is extremely rare in birds.

Notes: Leucistic birds are extremely uncommon for a number of reasons.  They are not thought to live very long because their white feathers make it difficult for them to hide from predators.  If they do stay alive, it is difficult for them to find a mate and successfully pass on their genetic mutation.  Additionally, the melanin found in regular birds adds strength to the feathers.  Leucistic birds lacking melanin have weaker feathers and thus have a more difficult time flying in severe weather.  Last, the reflective properties of white feathers may be problematic for birds who rely on solar energy for heat.

Eastern Screech Owls, 4 in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on December 17-18, 2018

While out birding the last couple of days I have come across 4 Eastern Screech Owls. These beautiful owls were all found in deciduous trees with the natural cavities facing to the south or southwest. It appeared they were all out in the cavity opening soaking up the warm sun with the nice warm December weather we are having. The 1st image is the Eastern Screech Owl, grey morph that has been seen almost regularly,  but not always at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee. The other 3 were also taken in Milwaukee County.

Eastern Screech Owl, grey morph #1 with blood on the bill from a recent meal at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph #2

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph #3

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph #4

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph #4

Hammond’s Flycatcher in Iowa County Wisconsin on December 11, 2018

A report of a Hammond’s Flycatcher in Iowa County put me in the chase mode. The bird was reported on Sunday, but I put off the run until today, Tuesday with other things going. This bird is a very rare visitor to the state of Wisconsin being a western US-Canadian bird. Going in the Wisconsin record books as a 1st state record of this species. Mark K joined me for the trip out to Iowa County and we arrived at the reported location about 7:20 am with no other birders around. About 7:40 am the bird flew over us crossing the road and landed in a deciduous tree near the road. We both confirmed at that time that that was the bird we had been waiting for. After a few seconds the bird dropped down at a creek bed and we never really seen where it went. About 10:15 am, the bird reappeared and gave nice looks but far off the road perched in a tree for about 30 seconds, now about 18 other birders were present. It was a very exciting moment if you were there! The bird disappeared again and we left after about 20 minutes. Thanks to Edgar for finding this rare bird and getting the word out for others to try for it. A great time out with other birders and bird #341 on my Wisconsin state life list. It was a chilly morning with temps about 12 degrees, no wind, the sun showed after a couple of hours with all the valleys around. Image was taken on December 11, 2018.

Hammond’s Flycatcher

Binomial name: Empidonax hammondii

Category: Sandpipers, Phalaropes, and Allies

Size: 5.5” long,8.75” wing span

Weight: .35 Oz.

Note: A rare visitor to the state of Wisconsin as the normal range for this species is the western US and Canada.

Eastern Screech Owl in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on December 10, 2018

Nice to see this Eastern Screech Owl in Milwaukee County while out birding. The owl gave nice views but never opened its eyes while I was there. Just looking cozy up in a natural cavity. It was a beautiful morning out with plenty of sunshine and mild temps. Images were taken on December 10, 2018.

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph

Long-tailed Duck at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on December 3, 2018

While out birding some of the Milwaukee lakefront today, the highlight was a female adult Long-tailed Duck. The duck continually dove for food the whole time I was present which was about 15-20 minutes. No other ducks were in the area of this one. Always in search this time of year for a Snowy Owl, I came up empty. A couple hundred Greater Scaup were present in the lagoon near Summerfest along with a couple Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneye and one lone female Bufflehead. It was a chilly morning with cloudy skies, stiff winds out of the north, temps were around 31 degrees. Images were taken on December 3, 2018.

Long-tailed Duck, female in winter plumage…

In coming…

Thinking about the next dive under…

Going down…

Halfway in…

Short tail feathers…

Paddling in…

Beauty of the back…

Looking around…

Wild Turkeys at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee Wisconsin on November 30, 2018

One of my birding stops today was the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. It was a quiet day there birding like most places this time of year. The highlight was a flock of Wild Turkeys back in the woods near a ravine. I stopped on the opposite side of the ravine not to disturb them for a few shots. A flock of 6 and one of them remained perched in a tree while I was present. One displayed the whole time I was there too. A couple wandered around feeding, a couple just rested around the area they were in. It was nice to see them just doing what they do. It was a gloomy day, temps around 30, low winds out there, not bad for the end of November. Images were taken on November 30, 2018.

Wild Turkey, adult male displaying…

Moving about, this one always showing his beauty…

Resting under a spruce…

Perched high up in a tree near the ravine…

On the lookout…

Hooded Merganser at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on November 24, 2018

I stopped by the Fox River this morning near the dam in Waukesha to see if anything was going on. There was a male Hooded Merganser present hanging out with Mallards. Could this be the famous “Hollyhood” that was seen last winter? Some believe it is that. I can’t say, but it acted like it could be, on shore once for awhile watching the mallards eat some bird seed that someone had tossed out. It was a gloomy day with a light mist every so often, I hung around and took some pics of this guy as he had not been seen for 4 days and this was my first sighting of him since last winter. Dan W was down at the river and said the merganser had just come in before I got there. Just before I left, the merganser took to the air and flew out of sight to the north. A beautiful duck I will say! Temps were around 35, low winds but a dark gloomy day as said. Images were taken on November 24, 2018.

Hooded Merganser, male

On the shore just being one of the mallards…

The beauty of the back view…

Sitting on the shoreline thinking about the next move…

Start of a stretch that did not happen…

Rufous Hummingbird at Fox Point Wisconsin on November 12, 2018

I received information on a Rufous Hummingbird that has been visiting a feeder in Fox Point Wisconsin. This species natural range is western US and western Canada. Some of these birds are known to migrate through this area in late fall. The Rufous has been a regular at the feeder there since October some time, I don’t have the date it was first seen. I arrived at about 7:45 am, and it was 2 hours before the bird showed up at the feeder. The homeowner said it had showed a couple of times before I arrived. The Rufous Hummingbird fed on the nectar for about 20-30 seconds and then flew off out of sight. I left the premises after that sighting. As of today, November 18, I heard the bird has not been seen since the day I saw it. This hatch year bird is a female. It was pretty cold with temps around 21 degrees, cloudy, but winds were low so it was not too bad out there. I was told this bird had been banded on November 8. A big thank you to the homeowner for letting a few in to see this stunning visitor. Images were taken on November 12, 2018.

The Rufous Hummingbird…

Rufous Hummingbird

Binomial name: Selasphorus rufus

Natural Range: West Coast from Alaska to Mexico and Rocky Mountains, wintering in the Gulf Coast and Southeastern Atlantic states.  They are occasionally, although rarely, found in cold-weather areas such as the Midwest due to their surprising hardiness.

Fueling up…

A step of the feeder for a second…

More fueling up…

Eastern Screech Owl at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center on November 14, 2018

I decided to make a run up to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center this morning in search for any owl species. Walking a trail there I spotted this beautiful gray morph sound a sleep. It was a chilly 12 degrees when I left for birding but with full sun and no wind, it was a very pleasant day to be out. First owl of the season for me, it was nice to see one again. Images were taken on November 14, 2018.

A sleeping Eastern Screech Owl, gray morph…

At a distance…

Tundra Swans at Grobschmidt Park in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on November 11, 2018

I got a tip this morning from Mike W that swans were at Grobschmidt Park in Milwaukee County. I made the trip over there, they turned out to be Tundra Swans. I have never seen Tundra Swans in SE Wisconsin so it was a treat to see them there. It was a pair and they were resting when I arrived with a few Ring-billed Gulls. This is a difficult place for photos and today was no different, there is only one access point. They remained pretty much opposite the one access location on Mud Lake and it was a long distance at that. After a while the pair swam a little north and then back south and feed. It was a mild November day with low winds, some sun, temps in the lower 30’s. Images were taken on November 11, 2018.

The pair of Tundra Swans swimming south at a distance…

Earlier….On a mud flat, one resting, the other one on alert…

A leg stretch and one resting…

The other one with a leg stretch and the other preening…

Just before the swim…

Swimming south….

Snow Buntings at McKinley Beach in Milwaukee Wisconsin on October 23, 2018

One of my birding stops on Milwaukee’s lakefront produced a small flock of 3 Snow Buntings. 1st of the year for me so that was a real treat. They fed in a gravel area finding and eating grass or weed seeds. They are a stunning-beautiful bird anytime of year, and today they were just that. I hung around for awhile and took a few shots to share. A few walkers in the area flushed the Snow Buntings not knowingly but the birds returned after a few minutes and continued to eat weed or grass seeds. It was a beautiful morning out with full sun, low winds and temps in the upper 40’s at the time I was there. Images were taken on October 23, 2018.

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

Binomial name: Plectrophenax nivalis

Category: Longspurs and Snow Buntings

Size: 6.75” long, 14” wing span

Weight:  1.5 oz

Note: An arctic breeder that winters in the northern US and western Canada

Snow Bunting eating seeds…

The Snow Bunting looking for seeds in the gravel…

Removing the seed from the old grass stalk…

Two of them…

Something in the bill, a seed I’m sure…

The Snow Bunting eyes up the seed on this old stalk…

Then it takes the seed and eats it…

Eating more seeds…

Looking for seeds in the gravel…

The beauty in the back…they blend in so well in their surroundings…

A little fluffed up here…

Perched pretty…