Birding Report: Hummingbirds, young, rare birds highlight end of July
By Ryan Brady
DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program Biologist
WISCONSIN – Breeding season is starting to wind down for many species. Young birds are common on the landscape, some still following parents and others now on their own. If not obviously begging from parents, these immature birds can often be identified by remnant down on the head, brighter gape, pale-tipped feather edges and/or fresh, clean plumage this time of year. Meanwhile, adult birds generally sport older, worn feathers or are now in active molt, which leads to missing head, wing or tail feathers and a disheveled appearance.
As summer progresses, flocks of birds are becoming more common again in species such as sandhill cranes, blackbirds, swallows, loons and waterfowl. Hummingbird lovers have been pleased to see increased activity now as newly fledged birds begin to frequent gardens and feeders. Shorebird migration continues full steam ahead wherever suitable habitat is present. In areas of heavy rain, check flooded fields that provide temporary stopover habitat for these long-distance migrants. Landbird migration has also begun, including the first Tennessee warblers, Swainson’s thrushes, yellow-bellied flycatchers and others. Notable up north have been small numbers of white-winged crossbills.
The illness leading to bird mortalities in the eastern United States continues to be investigated. If you observe birds with crusty or swollen eyes or that are having seizures or are uncoordinated, please contact your local non-game ecologist or wildlife biologist. Learn more here: www.dnr.wisconsin.gov/newsroom/release/46521.
Rarities spotted since our last report include a wood stork in Rusk County (the state’s first in over 40 years), snowy plover in Milwaukee, neotropical cormorant in Brown, adult male rufous hummingbird in Buffalo, continuing white-tailed kite in Burnett, yellow-crowned night-heron in Dane, yellow-breasted chats in Waukesha and Racine, blue grosbeaks in Ozaukee, Sauk, and Dane, snowy egrets in Brown and Fond du Lac and a harlequin duck that has unusually spent the summer in Sheboygan.
Now is a great time to check wetlands, woodland edges, shrubby or early successional forests and any fruit sources in your area for additional migration of shorebirds and some landbirds.
Help us track the migration by reporting your finds to www.ebird.org/wi.