The Gray Catbird, with its understated beauty, is named for its call. It sounds like a young kitten mewing. It can also “imitate the vocalizations of over 40 bird species, at least one frog species and several sounds produced by machines and electronic devices,” according to the American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America: Eastern Region. Amazingly, it can sing two notes simultaneously. Some of us would be happy to sing one note well.
Shorebirds can be difficult to identify. The Dunlin has a large, square, black patch on its abdomen, as part of its adult breeding plumage, making it easy to recognize. The Black-necked Stilt has striking black and white plumage with thin pink legs. This is prime nesting time at the Horicon Marsh and a wide variety of birds can be seen with their stunning breeding plumage.
A large flock of American White Pelicans swim and scoop up fish for breakfast at the Horicon Marsh on this warm Monday morning. Grayish coloring on the head and neck is typical in the postbreeding adult.
A nonverbal bird social dynamic was evident. Two Great Egrets stood and watched as the flock of pelicans moved en masse toward them. In the avian game of chicken, the egrets decided to take off. When the game was played between the pelicans and a Great Blue Heron, the heron stood his ground. The pelicans swam within several feet of him and the entire flock made a 180 degree turn.
Pelicans soared overhead in a coordinated aerial display. Their wingspans can stretch over 9 and a half feet.
In contrast to the social pelicans, this petite female Hooded Merganser floated alone. She only weighs about a pound. Her nest would be in a tree cavity or nesting box. Hooded Mergansers are usually done nesting in June. The Hooded Merganser is the only Merganser restricted to North America.
The Merganser didn’t have any little ones nearby, but the Black-necked Stilts are still raising their broods. This juvenile had white-edged feathers in a scalloped pattern. He enjoyed wading along the auto tour.
His parent kept a watchful eye while he enjoyed his outing with his sibling.
You never know what you will see on an outing at the Horicon Marsh. If you have a Monday off, this is a relaxing place to spend it.
It’s nesting season at the Horicon Marsh! This American Robin wants to make as few trips as possible to build her nest. She will make an average of 180 trips per day for 2-6 days. Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer and Build by Peter Goodfellow is a helpful reference book about different types of bird nests, if you would like to learn more about the fascinating art and science of nest building.
The reconstructed boardwalk on the Egret Trail, on the auto tour off of Highway 49, is showing signs of progress. It is scheduled to open on July 1, 2017. The auto tour is now open to vehicles. There was a parade of us driving through and enjoying the warm weather today. A fellow birding enthusiast said there were several types of warblers in the woods near the parking area by the Egret Trail.
A painted turtle enjoys the sunshine. I like the symmetry of the branch and its reflection.
Numerous pairs of Black-necked Stilts waded in the water along the auto tour and in the water along Highway 49. They have the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird. Do you know what bird leads the list? Tell us what you think in the comments area.
This Black-necked Stilt was as excited as I was to be out on the auto tour again.
A pair of Black-necked Stilts flew in and landed in the little water that remains near the Egret Trail on the auto tour. The three mile auto tour loop is located on the south side of Highway 49 near the city of Waupun. The popular boardwalk that normally resides here has been removed due to deterioration. It is expected to be rebuilt next year. Yay! The DNR is drawing down the water in this section to encourage native plant growth. That should attract more wildlife, which is great news for photographers. In the meantime, the Stilts enjoyed bathing,
eating small fish,
and other things.
They are comical,
and, at times, fluffy.
The female has brownish feathers in the dark areas while the male’s feathers are completely black in the dark areas. Their long pink legs and distinctive color pattern make them an easy shorebird to identify.