2013 and beyond

It's pretty simple: the most birds seen or heard from one's yard during 2013 will be the "winner". Want in? O.k....then do it despite that.

2013 promises to be a lot less mean but still a carbon-free birding competition, even if slightly less exciting than a MEGA x EPIC hybrid.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

FINALLY something new! (BBCU)

After 2 weeks of PURE DOLDRUMS in the Putnam yard, today I finally got something new- a distant Black-billed Cuckoo singing. Tried to walk to the neighbor's yard for photos but the bird was not at all close. The water feature continues to attract Catbirds while the local REVIs (2), GCFL (1), and BAOR (1) sing all day long. Our nesting Titmice continue to brood their 7 young- this is the first titmouse nest in a box I have ever seen.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

WOODCOCK??! I'll take it!

Yup, you read it right. I saw a woodcock alright!
Yesterday a.m. while searching for the "oporornis" I kicked it up. It flew 50' and landed again. I walked closer to get a look, but it flushed again and flew out of sight into the trees and brush.
So WHAT THE HECK is a Woodcock doing in my yard NOW?
I would expect, that IF I was to see that bird in my yard it would have been March or April. Maybe there's a nest in my yard...that's been undetected till now....yeah right...not here!
I'll take it anyhow. That makes an even 100 for the year (counting Oporornis sp. as 99) and 104 for all-time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

female Oporornis Sp.

What can I say with a title like that? Well, this a.m. I flushed a bird from the ground and it landed 6' up in THICK shrubs. I got the binocs on it, but all I could see was a pizza slice through its face, showing it's beak, eye and cheek only. It was grayish brown in color on the head (what I could see) with a decent sized, bi-colored beak. It also had an eye ring, somewhat duller than a female Connecticut, but brighter than a first year female Mourning (compare to drawings in Peterson's Warbler guide). The bird sat absolutely motionless in this position for 1-2 min. I was about 20 or 30' from it. I tried to move slightly to see if I could get a better angle and it flushed. I could not refind the bird, but potentially flushed it one more time 10 min later, but it did not give me a look. I had to leave for the day and the thought of a potential Connecticut Warbler in my yard drove me NUTS! I did not return until 7pm and it was not refound. I'll have to try again in the morning.
SO, I guess I put down Oporornis sp. on the species tally... and for the warbler war. BUT, how to count this bird...that is the question. Seeing that Sean got Mourning Warbler today, it would seem fair to call my bird a tie with his so we both get 2 points for a first sighting. If I re-find the bird (unlikely) and confirm it as a CONW, then we can change it back to 3pts each. What say you Sean?

Mourning Warbler and some empids

Went out back in the misty cold drizzle and got pretty wet and bit up by mosquitoes... It was fortunately not in vain and I heard a Mourning Warbler singing from the middle of a large thicket about 50 feet into my neighbors woods. This actually ties up the "warbler war", for now... Curtis still has me by one species for the totals for the season so he will get some bonus points tacked on unless I manage to scrape up one more warbler species in the next few days (WIWA being most probable). Also had a Traill's Flycatcher that was frustratingly silent. The rest of my walk I predominately heard only the bzz of mosquitoes but right as I was about to leave the woods I heard the "pizza" of an Acadian Flycatcher. After some searching I spotted it high in the canopy actively foraging within the cover of the large oak leaves that have just recently come into their own here. I was pretty excited about that as this is only the second ACFL I've ever recorded in my yard. I was expecting maybe a YB fly out of this walk but came back with two different spp of empids...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nemesis thwarted

Unpredictability is perhaps the hallmark of birding. Sometimes this is a bane, and other times it is a virtue. Today it was the latter. Despite months of diligently scouring the yard and every piece of real estate with EARSHOT of my yard, I have failed to find a Gray Catbird until this evening when I noticed this bird in the water feature! Not exactly the way I expected to first discover the species for the yard. How about a Bay-breasted while I am at it?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

another push of migrants...

I had another push of migrants today adding a few notables for year/yard...
Philadelphia Vireo (95/102)
Canada Warbler (96)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (97/103) - photo
Cedar Waxwing (98)
In total I had 8 warblers (MAWA, BLPW, AMRE, WIWA, TEWA, CAWA, CSWA, COYE). Other migrants from this a.m. would be Swainson's Thrush, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos - photo, Eastern Wood-pewee as well as 2 flocks of V-formation Canada Geese totalling 63 birds...seems a bit late don't you think?
And, yes Sean, I am well aware that 3 of my additions mirror 3 of yours from Friday - guess it's just that time to be expecting these later migrants. You're just lucky I didn't get out on Thursday (or friday either) and get CAWA before you!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

The Evil has landed

In a rare show of goodwill, our long predestined winner (Sean) has decided to visit my yard in hopes of imparting some Wisoconsin magic on my yard list. Actually, he is just travelling through en route to northern Michigan (it's still kind of a goodwill gesture for him to just leave his yard for a weekend, eh?) and needing a place to crash. Let's hope a nice little movement occurs overnight, as it has been SLIM pickins the last few days with nothing but 2 Red-eyed Vireos singing nearby and a single Tennessee Warbler. I need a new push as I am still hoping to eek out Bay-breasted, Canada, Blue- and Golden-winged, Veery,  and some easy stuff like Lincoln's Sparrow and Gray Catbird. All of these species are life yardbirds still!

90-94/Breaking 100 All Time!

Ok, these are some "old" records that I have not posted yet...I've been busy working 60+ hours/week...what can I say??!

90/100 - Bay-breasted Warbler (FINALLY!! And nice to add as #100 all time too)
91/101 - Warbling Vireo
92 - Wilson's Warbler

93 - Great Crested Flycatcher
94 - Black-throated Blue (female)

The last few days have been slow here. In fact, this a.m. I only had one warbler - a Tennessee. However, notable would be the famale Indigo Bunting carrying nesting material on 5/19...pretty cool to have them nesting in my lot. I'm waiting for one last push of migrants....I hope to add a Canada Warbler to the warbler war (...and maybe an oporornis too) it's gotten close again! I'm glad I grabbed what I could when I did...thank goodness for my 17 warbler species fallout on 5/9.

11 warblers, BB Cuckoo, and Philly Vireo!

Saw that this morning was actually cool and fairly calm so I spent about 45 minutes back along the edge of my neighbors woods (bigger oaks that pull in birds now that they are leafing out). Managed quite a few warblers considering how slow its been here recently... Best was probably a singing Canada Warbler, but I also picked up for the year a female Northern Parula, Blue-winged Warbler, and Bay-breasted Warbler. Other warblers included a lateish Yellow-rumped, Tennessee, Blackpoll, Redstart, Yellow, Ovenbird, and C. Yellowthroat. A Philladelphia Vireo was a nice addition and I not only heard Yellow-billed Cuckoo again today, but also had a Black-billed swoop up into a tree right above me!
I'm heading over to MI this weekend, so you guys have lots more prime migration time to be in your yards while I'm not even in the state (I've been trying to help you guys out that way...). We'll see if I can manage any other warblers to tie this thing up with Curtis on the warbler war when I get back... Also, I think maybe we should have a "spring title", then do it again for fall starting in like mid-July or something. Keep us more interested in trying to pick up additions in late summer when its buggy etc...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

It's still windy here, but definitely had some turnover last night. Highlight of a brief walk was a calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo in the large woodlot to my NE. The only other new bird was a singing Eastern Wood-Pewee, only my second in WI this year. It seems like they were remarkably late this year. Had a few warbler chips from the canopy of my woods that I never was able to see. Curtis is thankful for that I'm sure... I'll probably go back out in my anti-tick garb and see if I can track down any other new arrivals later.
EDIT: Got holed up in the house and didn't go back out until 4pm... As a result I didn't see much. Did add a pair of Eastern Kingbirds for the year and had another N. Waterthrush in the woods (probably my third most plentiful warbler in terms of days recorded this spring behind YRWA and NAWA).
EDIT II - tack on a couple of peenting Common Nighthawks at 630pm high over the backyard.
EDIT III - and a Cliff Swallow among a large group of CHSW, TRES, and BARS at 730pm

Monday, May 18, 2009

Warbler #22 for 09

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler this a.m....that puts me back up to 36pts in the Warbler War after Caleb knocked me back a point earlier with his Wilson's. Oh, and the BTBW was one of 9 warblers this a.m. I've been adding some birds for the year this last week (and don't know my tally as of yet) but no time to calculate/post...a big update will have to come later.
Sean...where are you??

An even 100

After a nice weekend at Tawas Point Birding Festival, where I scored plenty of interesting migrants, I returned home to a singing Wilson's Warbler this morning in the treetop, making 100 year birds for the yard.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

some pics

Here are some pictures that I managed over the last few days. Although I've been so busy with the binocs that I have not taken many photos...


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3 newbies makes 89/99

New birds for the year/yard are as follows for this a.m.:

Yellow-throated Vireo (87/98)
Eastern Wood Pewee (88/99)
Red-eyed Vireo (89)

Indigo Bunting
Scarlet Tanager
Baltimore Oriole
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Empid. Sp.
TN Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Am. Redstart
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Cape May Warbler

Vermivora party

I was quite surprised to walk outside and be immediately treated to a flock containing the following excellent birds (*=life yardbird):

Cape May Warbler (1 female)
*Chestnut-sided Warbler (1 imm. male)
Tennessee Warbler- 3
Nashville Warbler- 2
Orange-crowned Warbler- 1
*Scarlet Tanager- 1
*Least Flycatcher- 1
*Bobolink- 1

I finally feel as though a real push has hit my yard. The wind is picking up a bit, but I do hope the water feature is able to pull some of these birds in throughout the day, perhaps e
ven helping me add Blue-winged or Golden-winged to complete the Vermivora party! Watch out Sean, our cumulative score is getting closer!

Here are some photos:

Tennessee Warbler (in full song)
Swainson's Thrush (from yesterday)
Scarlet Tanager (note the red on the median coverts- a rare trait!)Chestnut-sided Warbler (imm. male)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Great Crested Flycatcher

Still a few birds in the yard, including today a Great Crested Flycatcher and lingering Nashville Warblers, but little else. I am starting to enjoy the competition more now that our cumulative score is at least in the ballpark of Sean's yardlist. Maybe we will start to catch up with him as the migrants trickle away in June?

Monday, May 11, 2009


Well, I do not have anywhere near Curtis's conditions, but new species continue to find their way into the yard, and the water feature is working brilliantly. Just had my first ever Orange-crowned Warbler in the bath, and yesterday was the season's first Swainson's Thrush.

Fallout over, but still new birds

Well, the fallout of yesterday was unprecedented for my yard and made for a bit of a let down this a.m. but I still managed to gain some year and yard birds...
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (83) - heard
Common Yellowthroat (84) - heard
White-crowned Sparrow (85/96) - seen/heard
Orange-crowned Warbler (86/97) seen/heard

As for warblers, I reached 19 for the weekend...not bad when the name of your yard isn't Magee Marsh or Point Pelee. That puts me 10 points up on Sean in the Warbler War! And I've got more birds that are very likely to get for this year...BTBW, WIWA, CAWA, BBWA, MOWA...and who knows what else!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


As Caleb mentioned earlier, I added some more species to my fallout list:
Golden-winged Warbler(78/94) - heard/seen
Blackpoll Warbler (79) - seen
Cape May Warbler - seen
Magnolia Warbler (80) - seen
N. Parula (81/95) - heard/seen
Palm Warbler (82)

The Palm makes it 17 warblers for the yard for the day (so far).
It's SMACK DOWN TIME!! Take that SEAN! Score: 31 (ME) - 23 (Sean) -17 (Caleb) -2 (Dave)


A steady stream of additional warblers seems to be arriving by the minute- though not many of them are stopping. Two that did were Blackburnian (photo) and Black and White. The former is a life yardbird- #101. Sean, if you're out there, I'd get out in your yard ASAP. We are catching up!

Oh yea, Sean, Curtis asked me to kindly point out that you are now LOSING the warbler war! And ... suck it, Trebek.

Holy Moly- 100!

Well, Curtis, although you had a nice morning it would appear that you may end up regretting getting me out of bed to check my yard at 7:30! I just scored 5 life yardbirds- Wood Thrush, Chimney Swift, White-crowned Sparrow, Green Heron, and oddly, HOODED MERGANSER (hen flyby). This puts me at an even 100 all time, my year list to 87, and our cumulative list closer to Sean with 111. Not sure why Curtis's warblers are not present in my yard- only had 1 Nashville.

Yard Fallout

Ok, here it goes...
Tennessee Warbler - 2 singing
Nashville Warbler - 2 singing
Black-and-white Warbler (73) - 2 singing and seen
Yellow Warbler -1 singing
Chestnut-sided Warbler (74) - 1 (maybe 2) singing and seen
Blackburnian Warbler - 1 singing and seen
Black-throated Green Warbler (75) - 2 singing and seen
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 3 singing and seen
Blue-winged Warbler (76/93) - 1 (maybe a 2nd) seen
American Redstart (77) - 1 singing and seen
Ovenbird - 1 singing and seen

Other Notables:
Least Flycatcher -1
Blue-headed Vireo - 1
Scarlet Tanager - 3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 2
Indigo Bunting - 5

NUF SAID! Look out Sean, I'm about to over-take your warbler score!

Friday, May 8, 2009


The yard is continuing to flux...bringing me a trickle of new birds again...
Blackburnian Warbler (70) - singing!
Ovenbird (71) - sang once, later seen skulking in the leaves.
Tennesee Warbler (72) - heard singing.
While already seen in the yard this year, it's still nice to note that I had 2 Scarlet Tanagers singing this a.m. from my yard...AHHH, SPRING!
And I anticipate the total to rise again tomorrow a.m.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Out of order

Somehow I have not yet observed a Swainson's Thrush in Michigan for 2009, yet my second Gray-cheeked of the year has already shown up in my yard. This species is normally outnumbered probably 10 to 1 by Swainson's here!

Cape Mays 'n more

Late this morning I finally found some nice migrants showing up...
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (63) - male & female
Chimney Swift (64)
Cape May Warbler (65) - 2 singing and foraging high up.
Indigo Bunting (66) - 1 or 2 males
Scarlet Tanager (67) - 1 male
Just as Caleb mentioned, it was very quiet today for me as well. The CMWAs sang just enough for me to get on the birds and the RBGR and INBU were doing call notes only. Believe it or not, the CMWAs were the only warblers I saw today and they are only the third warbler species I've seen so far. There are a few more species I assumed I would have seen before CMWA.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I woke up late (after staying up late applying for jobs) and to a text from Tom Prestby that he had 15 warbler species at a park over in Madison this am. Hustled outside and worked the little wooded strip along the seasonal stream (that is quickly drying up without any rain this week). Picked up 8 warbler species (about 15 individuals) and a WAVI including three that are new for the year: Tennessee, 2 Chestnut-sided (one singing), and a sharp looking Blackpoll high in the willows. With those three additions I have now finally tied the warbler score with Caleb who while he has seen less species, keeps getting them first giving him double points... It started to drizzle so I had to come back in sooner than I had planned, but not before adding a singing Wood Thrush, a flyover Indigo Bunting, and a female RT Hummingbird at the feeder in the back.
The last few days have been quite slow. Yesterday I picked up a singing BH Vireo, BTNW, and a distant flyover DC Cormorant. The previous day I think YWAR was my only addition. I've been wondering when we're actually going to get hit. I was hoping today would be really good but it looks like this is just a more typical May day and nothing spectacular... We'll see if more stuff drops in later today.
EDIT - Mostly the same crowd around this aft, although a Brown Thrasher was singing to my east on the brushy hillside. Also, a late evening Osprey was trying to stay between storm cells winging its way north up the valley to my east. AND also a flyover Great Egret towards dark while watching for nighthawks (without luck).

A few more

Quietly adding a few species at a time here, with the yard mostly lacking birdsong (even new migrants are mostly giving flight calls instead). This AM brought Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Ovenbird. Finally got my water feature pump working at full bore again (tube was clogged with junk), which means that the trickle of water is now an all out spout which can be heard easily from the neighbor's yard. hopefully this will continue to pay dividends!

YWAR/BAOR (60-62)

This a.m. I had one singing Baltimore Oriole (61) and one Yellow Warbler (62) female high in the branches. I also had a probable Yellow-throated Vireo, but could not rule out Pine Warbler due to the horrid angle the bird gave me high up in the trees. More to come Wed. for sure...the birds are on the move!
If you are wondering, #60 was Empid Sp. the other day...if only it would make some noise!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Well, the birds do keep slowly trickling in. In between bouts of trying to clean out my flooded basement I have been putting out wet towels to dry, and occasionally listening for new birds. This AM revealed the first House Wren of the season, as well as my yard's first ever Yellow-throated Vireo (94). The Black-throated Blue from yesterday hung around at my bath all day yesterday which was a FANTASTIC treat! My neighbor (non-birder, but getting hooked) even thought it was awesome.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

How to avoid Sean's losing interest

OK, I have a suggestion. Since there is no simple, fair, way to correct for Sean's birding advantage from his yard (short of deleting all the species he sees which we do not!), I am thinking it might make sense to allow us all to claim another spot or two as part of our "yard". Perhaps even places not that close to our houses, but ones which could add habitat diversity or better view of horizon, etc., which might equal the total acreage of Sean's yard and even the score? Wouldn't this help keep Sean interested in spending time in his yard, and be relatively fair?

Thrushy Afternoon

Today after getting home from birding Woodtick Peninsula with Caleb I immediately went into the yard. Things were not going well when finally I got onto some thrushes...(sorry about the photos....but at least I got 'em).
Swainson's Thrush (already seen last week - I was too busy last week to post). Bottom 2 photos
Wood Thrush (58/91)
Veery (59/92) - top photo
Of course, there were Robins too and I thought I caught a glimpse of a Hermit Thrush too...but not well enough. A better look at the Hermit and a adding a Gray-cheeked would have been SWEET! Bicknell's would have been...well...stretching things a bit.
Look out, Caleb, I'm on your heels. Don't get too comfortable in the lead!

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

#100 - Swamp Sparrow

Didn't spend too much time in the yard today, but picked up a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Black-and-white Warbler, and a singing Swamp Sparrow (#100) in the small marsh on the corner of the yard. NOWA and NOHA were the only other birds of note.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Welcome home - CCSP, BOBO, EATO, LEYE...97

Well after a rather sleepless all night flight back to Milwaukee via Minneapolis I arrived back in a much greener yard than I had left. I tallied probably a dozen year birds in a quick walk thro the woods. Best among them was a sharp looking Clay-colored Sparrow that actually came in under the feeder! I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've noted this species in the yard during the spring. Also first Bobolink of the year out back singing in the cold wind. Also a female Eastern Towhee tagging along with a flock of White-throated Sparrows was nice for the yard. They inexplicably don't nest in the woods near here so it's an iffy bird in the spring. A flyover Lesser 'Legs was nice. Other new birds: OC Warbler, YR Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, 2 Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Warbling Vireo, House Wren, BG Gnat, Savannah Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, White-crowned Sparrow, and Barn Swallow. 19 new birds in the first hour of being home. Should get a few more after I wake up from my nap this aft.
EDIT: Another 45 minute walk yielded not very many birds (the only warb was the PIWA again), but a few of them were new as it had gotten a little more sunny out. 3 Broad-winged Hawks, a few Purple Martins, and a Field Sparrow had joined the flock of chippies hanging out in the recently burned fields. It's fun to see so many FOS's in one day!