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.

Monday, August 31, 2009


A female PISI greeted me yesterday morning. It was feeding at the thistle feeders. Earliest ever for me. In the afternoon I tried for warblers, but, other than resident birds, all I could drum up with the owl tape was an ESOW. Thats 148 now for the cumulative total against Mr. Fitzbew. A DCCO flew over as well yesterday. BWWA was high in the sunlit beech canopy this evening and a HETH was witting in the underbrush.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Flock of warbs

Worked all the sunlit edges this evening since I wasn't able to get out until 6pm. On the way up the hayfield I had a couple gnatcatchers which are my first of the fall. Waiting patiently by one of the BGGN yielded a female Black-throated Green Warbler that never made a sound. At the top of the field I had 5 nighthawks go over and a flock of 8 GREGs northbound. Returning back I started hearing warbler tsips at the corner of the field in a little opening where some pin cherry had died and there was thick shrubby undergrowth. Waited there and just watched and more and more TEWAs started appearing, then the previously seen BTNW showed up. I stuck with em and then a sharp looking BLPW appeared in the shrubs right in front of me. Scanning further left another BLPW was chasing an AMRE around. All told had 6 TEWAs, 2 BLPW, BTNW, AMRE, and an OVEN just in that little patch. Such a reward after dealing with crap at work all day...

OVEN Addition

I added Ovenbird to my fall warbler war tally today...it was like pulling teeth to get even that one bird...no other warblers were seen today.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Probably my best fall yardbird ever

I think that, prior to this evening, the above title would go to either Ross's Goose or Harris's Sparrow both from the early 00s. But I think I just topped it today...
Ok the preamble - after getting home from work at 5 and checking the blog I saw that the spring king picked up the FOS MAWA today. Well hell if I wanted him to have those FOS sighting bonus points all to himself and I was determined to dig a mag out of one of the BCCH that are around. Well I Pished, wheezed, peter-petered, whited, whinneyed, and tooted until my throat literally got sore and the net result was...2 OVEN and a BAWW. Son of a bee-sting! Where the heck are all the warbs that everyone else on wisbirdn and ibet seem to be getting!? So I worked my way up to the top of the field hoping that a shorebird might have seen thee poor excuse for a pond down in the valley and stopped in - nada ('cept a GBHE flyover which is a fall bird for me). A few CHSW and BARS were gettin knocked around in the wind on my way back and I heard a BCCH in a spot I hadn't heard them on the way up. What the heck I'll give it a shot. Redux the pishing routinue and while I only got 2 BCCH in, they also pulled in an AMRE and a different OVEN so I kept it up. All of a sudden I hear the louder and smackier chipping of a waterthrush nearby. (renewed conniption fit of pishing) The bird flies in right above me and is staring down at me trying to figure out what ridiculous bird is making all these noises. The bird has extremely contrasting facial features set off by the broad white supercilium (wide all the way back), a little half white eye arc under the eye, and an unstreaked, white throat. The bird also is quite heavy beaked (it was briefly in the vicinity of an Ovenbird and it made the OVEN look dinky). The streaking underneath was all good for LOWA with diffuse streaking throughout. It flew around a couple of times before dropping back down into the brush and disapearing from view.
Needless to say, I was incredulous that of all the "southern" breeding warblers that I got this fall, I got the one almost least on my radar screen (definitely behind BWWA, HOWA, CERW, PRAW and I guess more likely than YTWA, PROW, KEWA, YBCH, and WEWA - none of which I consider really possibilities in the slightest). I was also surprised by how late I got it since this is one of the first warblers to be detected well to our south in July and early August. A quick look over WI's eBird data for the last 15 years revealed several Sept records from the Madison, Beloit, and Milwaukee areas by reputable observers. I guess I'd never realized they were still being detected in southern WI this time of the year...
In terms of where this bird could have come from, the most likely area is the Black River Falls vicinity up near Eau Claire a little SE of Minneapolis. It's amazing how plentiful they are that far north in the tributaries of the Mississippi. Because other than there, there really aren't more than about a dozen spots in the eastern half of WI that I know of them breeding at...
Flame away, but I've gotta thank Curtis for getting me motivated enough to try to pull in those points from your MAWA!
(Also added VEER and EATO to the fall tally)
EDIT: Just realized Veery is actually a yard yearbird...man not sure how I missed that this spring.

In the Game

Hey all,
This a.m. I have officially scored into the game...Magnolia and Wilson's Warblers. Enjoy the tie while it lasts Slager! And sorry Rick, you're a nice guy and all, but I LOVE it when I knock a man down a notch!

New Yard Bird...no warblers...YET

Ok, maybe I figured I'd give you guys a "head start" this season. Yeah, right, more like I've had visitors from MN (grandparents) and Slovakia (brother), started working 3 jobs again for the fall and have gotten out in the yard only a time or to two the tune of NOTHING but the norm.

Anyway, I started my hawk watch up in Mason Co. today and coming home as I drove up my driveway had the pleasure of being welcomed by a NEW LIFE YARD BIRD! A lone DCCO flew directly overhead, bearing NW. How random for it to come over my house and for me to have JUST pulled into the driveway to see it. No complaining here. That's 102 for 09 and 106 for life in the yard.
Tomorrow a.m. I'll be out in the yard again...so look out and don't get too terribly comfortable with your leads!

Friday, August 28, 2009

YBFL - an ABA year bird!

Well I went out aiming to nab a few more FOS for the fall warb war but came up surprisingly with only two warbler species (even as Mike McDowell to my west has 13 species this morning...). Ovenbird was my only new addition for my fall tally (but six of them) along with a lone female AMRE. But there were numerous thrushes, flycatchers, and vireos in the woods which kept me interested. Their totals are here: 2 SWTH, 5 WOTH, 1 YBFL, 1 TRFL (90% sure Willow based on whit call but I'm not going further than that), 2 LEFL, 2 WAVI, 1 PHVI, and 8 REVI. Also had 4 SCTAs including a male showing a nice variegated pattern as he molts from his summer finery. The Yellow-bellied Fly was the only new bird for the year and is actually an ABA year bird (#418) as I missed them this spring for the first time ever... Oh yeah, had another Bank Swallow among many BARS and literally the worst day for mosquitoes that I've had here all summer...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Multiple Migrants

A continuous drizzle today made for some great migrants. Late this afternoon in one corner of the yard with thick vegetation, but open enough to sit and observe, I had 6 new fall birds: 2 AMRE, 1 CSWA, 2 WIWA, 1 NAWA, 2 WAVI (yr yrd bird 119) & 1 LEFL. (This was better land birding than I had with Prestby at WPBO yesterday.) The feeding flock also consisted of multiples of resident birds like BAOR, TUTI, BCCH, NOCA & WBNU. Earlier several CANG flew by providing another addition to my fall list. A YTVI stopped by the backyard water feature on Monday while I was in the UP at Pictured Rocks. It hasn't shown up again, but at least Mom and some other visiting birders got to enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well, scored a really great life bird today- Gunnison Sage-Grouse (not joking). Unfortunately, it was not a yard bird, duh. The back story: to my total amazement, I found this bird in the late afternoon in the first 2 minutes of my searching effort. For comparison, during my entire 4 years in Montana as a hard core state lister I saw Greater Sage-Grouse exactly ZERO times!! My state birds came on a early visit to Missoula to check out the school. In May 2007 Rick and I spent hours scouring the sage in NE Montana for this species and couldn't find it. So, needless to say I was amazed to luck into this thing that fast...

Get your warblers before I get back on 31 Aug, b/c I will be stacking them up again, boyz....

Bug bites finally pay off!

After being taunted on the phone by Caleb yesterday about how he was the king of the warbler war I hit the woods today with renewed gusto. I was hoping that the storms last night may have knocked down some birds... Well it took 3 flocks of chickadees before I finally found one with a non-parus tagging along. A sharp looking female Cape May Warbler (a species I somehow missed this spring in the yard...#151). I continued to keep the BCCHs riled up and heard the sharp chip of a Black-and-white Warbler come in and join the fun (another female). I continued pishing and kept an eye all around and nabbed a silent female American Redstart that disappeared as quickly as it came. I can't tell you how nice it was to actually see a warbler "flock" again down here. Let them pour in! Also, picked up yardbird #150 for the year with a Bank Swallow among the roving TRES, BARS, and CLSW overhead over the back hayfield. Also of interest were the 50+ Robins flocked up in the woods and the 5 BAOR loosely hanging out with them. I suspect the orioles are migrants as well. Fall is the best.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Advantage Putnut

Somebody is winning the fall warbler war, and he isn't 6 foot 6, barely above the legal drinking age, and weak on bird ID. Hmmmm. Who could it be?
Also added RBNU to my fall 09 list. The water feature produces yet again!

Monday, August 24, 2009

BOOYA- a life yardbird

Well guys, now it is REALLY on. Just looked out in the water feature and noticed this beauty (life yard bird 110) attempting to come in to the water but not allowing for good photos.

I tried incredibly hard for good photos but the bird took off and I haven't seen it since. Other than this it has been totally dead in the yard except for the locals (1 REVI, up to 2 OVENS, BCCH, NOCA, BLJA, WBNU, TUTI, AMRO, MODO, etc.).

Sunday, August 23, 2009


So I will be getting married and moving down to lovely Naperville, IL in late October. We already have the apartment picked out and I'm pretty excited about its location since it is actually part of a golf course and thus is surrounded by green space and nice ponds. My question is whether, a) I can start a new list for that location for the competition, and b) whether I can count the surrounding golf course as the "yard". Below is an aerial pic from google maps that shows the surrounding area. The ponds to the west will be good since they already were hosting a dozen DCCO, GREG, a SOSA, and a couple SPSA when we were down there signing the lease last weekend. There aren't many trees at all and I will be getting down there after most passerines have already moved through... So let me know what you guys think about what my boundaries should be down there. Also, I already lined up a transfer to a Walgreens down in Naperville which is so close I can walk to it (see bottom right). Very excited about not having to drive my car to work everyday down there esp in snow and such...
Things are still slow in the yard here. I had another Tennessee Warbler this weekend and a REVI but nothing else yet. I'm planning on having a little more time this week to get out so hopefully some stuff starts showing up.

Back to business

Ok, I'm back. Just thought it might help for me to just let you guys play for a while making you think that you were doing pretty good...but now it's time to get down to business!
I guess I shouldn't speak so quickly...I've got some territory to cover with only 23 that I can remember since mid July. I can't even recollect RBWO or ROPI! And besides that, I STILL have not had a Hummer come to my stinking feeder ALL SEASON!!!
The highlight thus far this "fall" was hearing a Yellow-billed Cuckoo last week. I was out today but no sign of migrants in the yard at all - even with a small flock of Titmice (another nice bird for my urban yard) responding to my calls. But, alas, the warblers are bound to show up here soon. Oh, and Caleb, nice job butting in to "take over" my Warbler War invention...you better hope I don't SMACK you (and everyone else) again this season! When I do there will be NO excuses for your lack of warblers!

Monday, August 17, 2009

As simple as Black & White

A new seep note in the backyard drew my attention a few minutes ago. Out came the Screech Owl tape and in came a BAWW.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Walked out into the yard at 8:30AM to find 2 warbler spp. seeping in the canopy, which unfortunately bolted immediately without betraying their identities. However, using BCCH mobbing calls I was able to pull in the following 2 species
Still working out the field marks of the latter species, but I have heard about a little known, very rare (n=1) species (either Anas odorata or Coccyzus coccyx, if memory serves) from the Columbus, OH area which features grotesquely long legs and lots of Roy D Mercer jokes. If anyone can help with its identity please let me know. I believe it's a life yard bird either way...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some activity, still no official fall warblers

Well this morning brought a tinge of cold air to the backyard which seemed to signal fall is close by. Avian signs also seem to corroborate this. Late in the afternoon I saw a naked-eye swallow way overhead which appeared to be a female Purple Martin, but given my stringent standards (as opposed to those of others, no names mentioned- cough, SLAY, cough, GER, cough NIGHT, cough, HERONS) I did not count it as the life yard bird it would have been. Also heard a warbler seep from the canopy briefly which I never heard again. The chickadees aren't responding much anymore to the alarm recording, making it tougher to call down the flocks. Will try again tomorrow. Finally, the local Red-eyed Vireos are still singing away, though only intermittently. Can't WAIT for some fall warblers at the water feature.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fall lists for Slugger and Duckstra?

Yo Dave and Curtis! Let's see some yard totals in the spreadsheet (rightmost 2 columns), eh? I don't stand a chance of beating anyone unless you guys play, hehehe...

I've added a few fall yardbirds the past week: Northern Flicker, Common Grackle, Killdeer, etc., but no fall migrants yet. I am luring in the BCCH flock daily to make sure nothing is lurking quietly in the canopy.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First fall migrant of my yard

And, you guessed it, a Tennessee Warbler. Nice to see some evidence of migration near the house, I guess it's time to get buggy and go bushwhacking in the woods for other warbs and such...