Birding Report: Shorebirds starting southbound migration while nesting birds feed young
By Ryan Brady
DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program Biologist
WISCONSIN – Right on schedule, southbound migration is already underway for some shorebirds.
New arrivals include the first solitary sandpipers, least sandpipers, and both greater and lesser yellowlegs, as well as a few black-bellied plovers, semipalmated plovers and short-billed dowitchers. Abundance and diversity will continue to increase weekly, with July featuring the bulk of the adult shorebird migration. Young of the year then peak from August into early September. Know of any mudflats, shallow wetlands, or drying ponds in your area? Visit over the next two months to catch a glimpse of these fascinating long-distance migrants.
Mid-summer also brings the second half of the nesting cycle for most bird species, meaning nestlings and fledglings abound now, as well as adult birds carrying mouthfuls of food to feed them. In turn, bird song has slowly begun to decline as courtship and territorial behaviors wane. Some of the young birds reported this week include common loons, red-tailed and broad-winged hawks, green herons and American bitterns, tree and barn swallows, Baltimore orioles, blue jays, northern cardinals, and various warblers such as Nashville, black-and-white, yellow-rumped, and others.
If you find a baby bird and wonder if it needs help follow our guide (www.p.widencdn.net/0bb8mx/birdkey) to give the bird its best chance of survival.
Wondering why you may be seeing fewer birds in your backyard lately? There’s often no easy answer as local changes in habitat, populations of predators such as cats and hawks, or herbicide application can have impacts, although we do know that winter weather in the southern U.S. took a large toll on bluebirds, phoebes, and some other species. June is also a time when many birds are incubating eggs and thus become less active and more secretive. Moreover, feeders are simply not a necessary resource now given all the natural food on the landscape.
If you choose to feed birds this time of year, be sure to use fresh food, clean feeders weekly with a 10% bleach solution, remove fallen waste seed and keep pets away from feeder areas. Birdbaths and fountains are wonderful summer additions too but should also be cleaned and refreshed every 3-5 days to promote a healthy environment for our feathered friends.
Some of the rare birds spotted this week included a white-tailed kite continuing at Crex Meadows in Burnett County, Swainson’s hawk in Portage, little gull in Marinette, and great gray owl, red-throated loon, and hooded warbler in Bayfield. Over the weeks ahead, look for more fledged young and family groups of birds, more migrating shorebirds, and by the second half of July, the first adult landbirds starting their southbound migrations as well.
Help us track it all by reporting your observations to www.ebird.org/wi.