Golden-crowned Kinglets along the lakefront in Milwaukee Wisconsin on April 5, 2019

I found Golden-crowned Kinglets at two locations along the lakefront in Milwaukee. Those locations were Veterans Park and Lake Park. Flocks of about a dozen at each spot. They focused on feeding in the lawn areas and where water was. I assume they were eating gnats or whatever they could find, it was nonstop action with this species like usual. That was the highlight of the day. Other species seen to note, Field Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Common Grackles. I heard my 1st Gray Catbird of the year but did not see it. It was a very pleasant morning to be out birding with highs in the 50’s, some sun, no wind. Images were taken on April 5, 2019.

Looking for the next insect to eat…

Looking…

All they do it seems is go from one insect to another…they will fly 15 or 20 feet for an insect, their vision or hearing must be that good…

Beautiful!

Flying to the next insect…

Looking…

Getting something here…

A quick turn looking for the next bite…

Driving by, a birder can’t miss a dozen of these bird fluttering on the ground eating insects in a small area on the lawn…

Getting something here…

Ducks, Grebes, and Geese ID Quiz ~ test your yourself on these beautiful birds here in Wisconsin!

Ducks, Grebes, and Geese ID Quiz ~ test your yourself on these beautiful birds that can be found sometime during the year here in Wisconsin! There are 50 images, see how well you do. Answers are below last photo at the bottom of the page. There is a chance you may see some color variation in ducks, grebes, or geese considering sex, age or time of year. There are books, FB groups, phone apps, classes to lean more. There are also presentations to help in learning bird ID, look for details at your local nature center. All photos were taken in Wisconsin except the Wood Ducks and the female Green-winged Teal images. Please let me know if you see an error, thank you. Special Note: I have complied a list of 50 images of ducks, grebes, and geese. I am missing a few of the images for various reasons, sorry. This quiz may not be as easy as the warbler or shorebird quiz! So don’t look for these in the quiz as they are missing: American Black Duck fm, Northern Pintail fm, Barrow’s Goldeneye fm, Common Mergansers.

Ducks

# 1

# 2

# 3   Narrow black nail, and not the wide black on the tip of the bill tells you it is a?

# 4

# 5

# 6  Narrow black nail, and not the wide black on the tip of the bill tells you it is a?

# 7

# 8

# 9

# 10

# 11

# 12

# 13

# 14

# 15

# 16 left —— # 17 right

# 18

# 19 female —– # 20 male

# 21

# 22

# 23

# 24

# 25

# 26 – assuming this is a female, what species?

# 27

# 28

# 29

# 30

# 31   A rare vistor

# 32

# 33

# 34

# 35

# 36

# 37

# 38

#39

#40

 Grebes

# 41

# 42

# 43

# 44    White tip on the bill means it is a…

# 45

Geese

# 46

# 47

# 48

# 49

# 50

ANSWERS BELOW

Ducks

#1 – Mallard – male

#2 – Northern Shoveler – male

#3 –Lesser Scaup – male

#4 – Canvasback – female

#5 – Redhead – male

#6 – Lesser Scaup – female

# 7 – Bufflehead – male

#8 – Wood Duck – female

#9 – Long-tailed Duck – male

#10 – Canvasback – male

#11 – Redhead – female

#12 – Northern Shoveler – female

#13 – Ring-necked Duck – female

#14 – Bufflehead – female

#15 – Ring-necked Duck – male

#16 – Eurasian Wigeon – male

#17 – American Wigeon – male

#18 – Harlequin Duck – male

#19 – Gadwall – female

#20 – Gadwall – male

#21 – Blue-winged Teal – female

#22 – Blue-winged Teal – male

#23 – Greater Scaup – male

#24 – Red-breasted Merganser – female

#25 – Common Goldeneye – female

#26 – Hooded Merganser – female

#27 –Ruddy Duck – female

#28 – Red-breasted Merganser – male

#29 – Greater Scaup – female

#30 – Wood Duck – male

#31 – Cinnamon Teal – male

#32 – Green-winged Teal – female

#33 – Hooded Merganser – male

#34 – Green-winged Teal – male

#35 – Common Goldeneye – male

#36 – Barrow’s Goldeneye – male

#37 – Ruddy Duck – male

#38 – Long-tailed Duck – female

#39 – Mallard – female

#40 – American Black Duck, male

Grebes

#41 – Pied-billed Grebe

#42 – Western Grebe

#43 – Eared Grebe

#44 – Horned Grebe

#45 – Red-necked Grebe

Geese

#46 – Snow Goose

#47 – Canada Goose

#48 – Greater White-fronted Goose

#49 – Ross’s Goose

#50 – Cackling Goose

Leucistic American Robin at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on April 1, 2019

One of my birding stops today was the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee County. The bird of the day was a leucistic American Robin. The typical view of this bird was in the bush. It perched a few times but another common American Robin did not seem to care for its presence and kept it on the move. It was said it has been seen on and off recently there. Another nice bird there was a Oregon Dark-eyed Junco. That gave nice views at the feeder, but a little Pine Squirrel did not want to share the bird seed and flushed it out a few times while I was there. Nice to come across a couple of surprises today while I was out birding. Other birding stops I made this morning had nothing special to report. It was a cloudy overcast morning, chilly with the winds. Images were taken on April 1, 2019

Leucistic American Robin perched on a log…

Perched in the tree…

Going to drop down..

Back view…

Oregon, Dark-eyed Junco

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.

Wood Ducks and Green-winged Teal in Cook County Illinois March 26, 2019

Wood Ducks and Green-winged Teal were the highlights on a trip down to Cook County Illinois. I was invited to go with Caron G and Sylvia P and with a great subject as the Wood Duck, I did not turn it down. It turned out it was a nice opportunity for photos of these beautiful ducks. The ducks were calm at this location for the most part, swimming around, hanging out and just being ducks. It was a gorgeous spring day, still winter coat weather, but the full sun eventuality warmed things up. Winds were calm with temps around 40 degrees. Images were taken on March 26, 2019

Wood Duck, male

Wood Duck, male coming in…

Wood Duck, female

Wood Duck, male on the log looking proud…

Green-winged Teal, male

Wood Duck, male, head up…

Green-winged Teal, male

Wood Ducks, the couple…

Wood Duck, female

Wood Duck, male

Wood Duck, female coming in…

Green-winged Teal, male

Wood Duck, male

Wood Duck, female

Wood Duck, male, just hanging out…

Beautiful!

Wood Duck, female

Wood Duck, male

Mourning Dove Gathering, Carrying Nest Material and Building the Nest in Waukesha County Wisconsin on March 25, 2019

While out birding this afternoon I walked upon a Mourning Dove coming out of a tree. I stepped back and watched. The dove gathered nesting material off the ground and flew into a pine tree. It would drop into a nest under construction. Sometimes the dove would stay in the nest for a short time after bringing something in and do a little construction work, and moving around to round the nest out. It was only one bird doing all the work. After about 15 minutes the bird stopped, perched near the nest and took a break. It was exciting to watch! It was a cold morning with temps around 30 to start. Full sun but the winds were strong making it feel like winter was still here.  Images were taken on March 25, 2019.

Mourning Dove carrying nesting material, a twig to the nest location…

Mourning Dove carrying more nesting material, a twig to the nest location…

Mourning Dove carrying nesting material, a leaf to the nest location…

Dropping down into the nest location…

Dropping down more…

Near the nest under construction…

Mourning Dove in the nest under construction, doing some work…

Mourning Dove carrying in a leaf to the nest…

Into the nest, but the dove seems to look at me but then continues it’s work…

The dove turned around and drops down into the nest…

Mourning Dove gathers nesting material off the ground before flying to the nest…

More carrying of nest material…

Mourning Dove holding a leaf above the nest…

Drops into the nest…

Mourning Dove in the nest working on things…

More gathering of nesting material on the ground near the nest…

To the nest…

To the nest…

Into the nest…

Above the nest with nesting material…

In the nest working…

Another leaf for the nest…

Mourning Dove takes a break near the nest on a limb…

Red-breasted Mergansers at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on March 24, 2019

One of my birding stops this morning along the lakefront was Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee. Very few winter ducks remain in the lagoon there. The majority of the few that were there were Red-breasted Mergansers. A group of 8, 3 males and 5 females were diving and finding food in the area by the foot bridge. Other birds at Lakeshore State Park were Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Song Sparrows. The rest of the lakefront in Milwaukee was quiet with only a few scattered Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup and Common Goldeneye. A stop at Lake Park, it was almost bird-less, but did have a flock way up high of about 50 Tundra Swans heading northwest. It was a beautiful morning with only a light breeze, light sun, temps in the 40’s. Images were taken on March 24, 2019.

Red-breasted Merganser, male

Red-breasted Merganser, female

Red-breasted Merganser, female front, Red-breasted Merganser, male back…

Red-breasted Merganser, male

The dive for something to eat…

Tail end of the dive…

Red-breasted Merganser, female

Red-breasted Merganser, female closeup…

Red-breasted Merganser, male closeup…

Red-breasted Merganser, female…

Red-breasted Merganser, male

Red-breasted Merganser, female

Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup and Red-breasted Merganser at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on March 18, 2019

Another stop today at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee provided some nice views once again of the Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye and a Red-breasted Merganser. One never knows what will show up so I make the stop there often. I was not there long but did capture a few different poses, etc. that I did not get yesterday.  It was a chilly day with a stiff wind from the west. Even with full sun, it was cold! Temps around 30 to start the day warmed a little as the day went on. Images were taken on March 18, 2019.

Common Goldeneye, male stretching…

Common Goldeneye, male out of water…I think this fella was tired…

Common Goldeneye, male out of water…

Common Goldeneye, the female…

Common Goldeneye, female, so cute…

Greater Scaup eating a mussel, that is what they eat there in the lagoon…

Greater Scaup, female

Red-breasted Merganser, male…

Greater Scaup, female…

Greater Scaup, male

Common Goldeneye, male wings up…

Common Goldeneye, male cruising along the ice edge…

Red-breasted Merganser, female – Fox River Waukesha 3/19/19

Red-breasted Merganser with a Bullhead, female – Fox River Waukesha 3/19/19

Common Goldeneye and Greater Scaup at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee Wisconsin on March 17, 2019

One of my stops this afternoon along the lakefront in Milwaukee was Lakeshore State Park. A few open places free from ice in the lagoon provided places for ducks to be diving and feeding on mussels. Those species were Common Goldeneye and Greater Scaup. There were very many walkers enjoying the sunny day which kept the birds tight in the openings. The birds were moving around a little and a couple of flight shots were taken. It was a nice sunny day, but winds kept things on the cold side. Images were taken on March 17, 2019.

Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, male

Greater Scaup, male

Greater Scaup, female

Greater Scaup, female

Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, male

Common Goldeneye, male

Greater Scaup, female

A pair of Common Goldeneye, males taking off…

Common Goldeneye, male at the ice edge

Mute Swans on the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on March 11, 2019

A pair of Mute Swans appeared on the Fox River in Waukesha County this afternoon. They fed for awhile and then gave some nice views too. It was a pleasant late afternoon with plenty of sunshine, lows winds, actually was starting to feel like spring could be coming yet. Images were taken on March 11, 2019.

Mute Swan

The pair…

The close up…

“Being shy”

Incoming…

Feeding…

The pair together…

Barred Owl in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on March 11, 2019

Barred Owl in a tree, presumably a nesting pair in Milwaukee County. This male resting peacefully in a tree kept his eyes on a nest hole nearby. Hopefully they will have a successful breeding year at this location. Partly cloudy but in a short time gave way to beautiful blue skies, cool temps starting at 21 degree with some breeze, it was chilly out there! Images were taken on March 11, 2019.

Barred Owl, the male…

Here the male looks over to the nest hole tree…

Enjoying some of the morning sun…

Off in a distance to show some of the setting…this owl was very high up there…

Townsend’s Solitaire at Port Washington in Ozaukee County Wisconsin on March 8, 2019

On my way home from birding in Sheboygan and getting the Great Tit, I thought I would stop at Port Washington. A Townsend’s Solitaire had recently been reported there. The Solitaire was present in the area as reported near the creek at the entrance of Coal Dock Park. When I arrived it was in a tree just above the creek perched. After watching it for awhile, it flew to the concrete wall a couple feet away along the creek and ate what I would think would be gnats or tiny insects. Hopping and skipping around on the concrete wall, I could tell it was catching things and eating. It was also picking insects out of mid-air. I think maybe the warming concrete there provided awaking insects that were dormant? After awhile it flew to the power plant fence adjacent to the creek across the road and ate some conifer berries. This only went on for a shot time. From there it flew high into a tree above the creek and then onto a condo roof top, then north out of sight, I left the area. It was comfortable at 36 degrees, the sun was fading with clouds, but with no wind it was very pleasant.

When I arrived, the Townsend’s Solitaire perched in the tree…

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.

In the tree, looking or listening for insects…

Flying a short distance to the concrete wall a few feet away…

Going for insects…

Getting something to eat here…

here too…

And more, it is eating something here…

Looking for more…

Turns on a dime to look for more, as it must hear something or see something…

Back to the tree…

Before flying across the creek…

To the conifers for the berries along the fence…then off it went…

What the Townsend’s Solitaire ate…

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…

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on February 21, 2019

An Eastern Screech Owl enjoying some sunshine in Milwaukee County Wisconsin on February 21, 2019. This beautiful owl was the highlight of the day. Still, in my opinion very quiet in Milwaukee County Parks. A little action around feeders. 1,000’s of ducks along the Milwaukee lakefront, Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup and some Red-breasted Mergansers in the areas I checked. It was a gorgeous day with plenty of sunshine, low winds, temps around 30 degrees.

Eastern Screech Owl, red morph soaking up some sunshine…

At a long distance…

Herring Gull enjoys some of a Rock Bass at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 20, 2019

I just birded around some of the Waukesha area today with the snowy-misty weather. I stopped at a couple places in Waukesha along the Fox River and the highlight was a Herring Gull eating a Rock Base that it had just captured. I’m not sure how it actually got the fish but I can assume it dove for it. When I saw the Herring Gull on the ice at waters edge, the fish was still flopping around. The gull stabbed the Rock Bass very many times to finally kill it while taking bites in between. It took quite a few stabs to really put this fish out! When it appeared to be finished eating the fish for the time being, it rinsed the fish in the river, what was left of it and set it back on the ice, maybe for later.  At the end of the event, the gull went in for a drink.  It was misting out with 32 degrees during the event with gray skies. Images were taken on February 20, 2019

*Some images could be graphic*

Herring Gull stabbing the Rock Bass when I approached…

Turning the fish over…

Taking a few steps with the fish as it had slide towards the water…

Going to set the fish down…

Tail of the fish still moving…

A bite to eat here…

Taking a couple of bites…the tail still moving…

More bites…

Here, pulling something off to eat…

Eating some of the good stuff in side, some of the entrails…

More good stuff…

And more good stuff…

Picking up the fish and taking it over to the water for a rinse…

Just before the rinse…

The rinse…

Then back up on the ice…

Then a short walk to set it down…

Setting the fish down…

At the end, the gull goes in for a drink…

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…