Sunny Yellow Warblers flitted among the willows along the auto tour on the Horicon Marsh today. The annual bird festival is in full swing and multitudes of birders have traveled to the Marsh to enjoy the abundant spring birds. The weather is gorgeous and the plentiful sounds of cheery songbirds fill the air.
This Black-crowned Night-Heron paused among the broken reeds along Highway 49. Unlike the perky sounding songbirds, he emits a raspy squawk.
Canada Geese typically extend their neck forward and put their head down when they are aggressively encountering an enemy. Perhaps, they are giving the kids a lesson in how to protect their children some day. The goslings are taking it in with rapt attention.
This nesting box caught my attention from the road as I drove by early in the day. I came back this evening to take a closer look.
What an exciting discovery! The nesting box was probably toasty and the Eastern Screech-Owl popped her head out and napped. I imagine sitting on eggs for 30 days is a bit tiring. The male was most likely hiding in a nearby tree. He would hunt for food at night and bring it to her while she is nesting. There are likely 2-6 eggs. There is also a gray morph of this species.
I met a couple who were also checking on the owl. They came out from Madison and joined the morning birding bus tour for the bird festival. One hundred and twenty-five birds were identified this morning!
Fifteen painted turtles came out to enjoy the sunny, warm day.
Purple Martins look rather crabby, don’t you think? This fellow was perched on the martin houses on the Palmatory Street overlook. Purple Martins are the largest North American Swallow. They get all their food while flying by dining on flying insects.
These Female Purple Martins are checking up on one another. Spend a few minutes watching the birds at these houses, and it is evident they are quite social.
What a treat to see such a variety of birds at the Horicon Marsh annual bird festival!
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.
The male Wood Duck is one of the easiest ducks to identify. His spectacular plumage gives his identity away. Thoreau saw one swimming in a river and said, “What an ornament to a river to see that glowing gem floating in contact with its waters! As if the hummingbird should recline its ruby throat and its breast upon the water. Like dipping a glowing coal in water! It so affected me. . . . That duck was all jewels combined, showing different lusters as it turned on the unrippled element in various lights, now brilliant glossy green, now dusky violet, now a rich bronze, now the reflections that sleep in the ruby’s grain.” (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Volume 8) What happened to this one?
This is an eclipse male. He has begun to molt since it is after the breeding season. He still has his bright red eye and bright bill with a dark tip. He is unable to fly until he molts again and has a return of his handsome breeding plumage.
This painted turtle is greeting our next bird.
Check out those claws!
This bird took me a while to identify. She has a long, slender bill that is dark above and yellow below. She has a black and white striped patch of feathers and a white belly. The part that threw me is that she has a chestnut brown head but not much of a crest.
This is a female Hooded Merganser. A fascinating fact is that “Hooded Mergansers find their prey underwater by sight. They can actually change the refractive properties of their eyes to improve their underwater vision. In addition, they have an extra eyelid, which is transparent and helps protect the eye during swimming, like a pair of goggles.”
These gems were spotted along the auto tour off of Highway 49. Whether adorned with brilliant color, or having a more subtle beauty, the Horicon Marsh is filled with avian masterpieces.