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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Todays half hour.

Only had a little time today. WEVI was telling the chick to pick up the beer check, this morning. A RTHU buzzed the feeders. Back home at sunset to the song of newly arrived GRCAs I had a few flyover CHSW. Wish I had some more time but its early to rise tomorrow for a birdwalk I'm leading at the park, the WOTH were singing away this evening there.

not a cougar, but a...

PUMA (129/78). Just a friendly reminder: say goodbye to the leads Sean and Skye.

Serving up CERW!

Ok, Caleb, you may have beaten me to the chase on NAWA, but now you can EAT THIS! (oh, and the rest of you all can too...) - CERULEAN WARBLER (54/109). A male singing in the top of one huge red oak. Below is the best photo I could manage...it did not get much closer and all views were pretty much from below.
Other new birds today include Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (52) and Rose-breasted Grosbeak (53).

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First official mic-assisted lifer

Yo beoches- at 11:12PM last night, as I sat on my back porch listening to the sky, I had an odd, reedy, upslurred note pass directly over my head and the mic, which was recording. I knew instantly my yard total had increased by one, I just didn't know by which one. It struck me as a shorebird or rail, definitely a sound I would envision hearing from the marsh. Here are the sonograms:
Listen to this track here(Use Internet Explorer if Mozilla Firefox gives you trouble.)and this one here.

A bit of further analysis, esp. this near exact match, has done the job for me: SORA. Eat it Kapmandu with all your cattail marsh! On the southside, we like to score our marshbirds the hard way: in Black Oak forest. On another note: with this bird I have tied Sean in the year list, and Skye in the life yard competition. Get ready to be passed, boyz. Also, I am not done going through last night's recording, and there were at least 3-4 seeps which I heard and have not yet analyzed, so it could happen today.

PS- just found an obvious SOSA from 2:24AM, at which point I was in bed, sadly.and this GRYE 15 minutes later:
Also, many SAVS (still a yard lifer- just a matter of time) and many unIDed seeps as well- at least one probably FISP.

The past few days

Been busy lately, Ruff chasing, working, more Ruff chasing (and finally success, Life Bird!!). Anyways, I've added a few birds to the old list over the past few days. BWHA, YWAR, NAWA, WAVI. There you go. Hopefully I get some more warbler action soon in the yard. I'll be out there tomorrow. Watch out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Five for the day

As mentioned earlier, several RBGR, a single BGGN & an individual NAWA showed up this morning. This evening on the strong southerlies CHSW & BANS arrived. Looking forward to more newbies over the next few days!

And again

Wow- after listening but hearing nothing last night, tonight's radar is even better
Indeed, Slave Dagger just called from La Crosse WI and said he just heard the following (all well after dark migrating overhead) from his trailer: VIRA (1), SOSA (2), and WPWI (1)!! But he also said it's overcast with a low ceiling and storms brewing on the horizon. Here in Grand Rapids, the stars are beautifully visible, likely causing the average flight height to increase to a level outside of hearing range. So, I'll continue to tweak this thing until the nocturnal listening yields me yardbirds. For the record, I just missed SAVS last night by about 2 minutes, after I had just come off the roof (picked up diagnostically by the mic). Get out and listen, chumps.

Wastelands Scores First Ever 'Dendroica'

A flyover Yellow-rumped was year bird #44 (yard lifer #51).

Yesterday, I managed a distant singing WTSP (#43/yard lifer #50).

This Warbler War could get dirty!

Ok, so I get up this a.m. (late due to being up late last night working on installing my new bathroom linoleum flooring). I was extatic to hear and see an early male Nashville Warbler (50)! I thought to myself - "that's a 3 pointer for sure...can't believe I'm going to beat all the southerners with this bird!" THEN, I get on the blog and let out a brief cry of astonishment when I saw that CALEB (of all people) beat me to the chase by only a couple hours! Ok, Putter, I let you get this FOY warbler only cause you ain't gonna get anutter!
One other addition for the year list was Chimney Swift (51).

Aerial migrants

Finally managed some migrants today: despite having seen my first one of 2010 weeks ago, and the species being back in numbers for over a week now, I only managed to log Barn Swallow (of the nominate race, naturally) today, when I heard one from my bedroom. Then, literally as I was writing this, I heard a Common Swift.

OK 1 new species today

Guess who's tied for the warbler war lead? Yours truly (NAWA, singing male). Seems a bit early for my neck of the woods.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's on, baby!

Check it out boyz: the doldroms of the last week are about to end (just after dusk Aprl 28):You can count on a few new yearbirds for Putzville tonight, and here's hoping for several life yardbirds. My predictions: SAVS, SWSP, and going out on a limb- GRYE and VIRA. Get outside and turn on those mics!

Postscript: here is what things looked like at dawn April 29: clearly a bunch of the birds made it to our latitudes (note how La Crosse WI was blank at dusk, heavy at dawn, etc.). Somewhat shockingly, despite spending 1.5 hours on the roof last night between 10 and 11:30 I heard not a single seep! I guess they must have been up too high (?!). It will be interesting to see what the mic picked up as well. Finally, in my early AM site survey today I had no new species. It is tough to fully grasp what is going on here... Not that this is the place for me to ask given how little you all know about birds!

American Pipit

Fly-over Pipit today here on the hill

Monday, April 26, 2010


There were at least 250 WTSP making a ruckus in the yard this morning before I left for work. Several white-crowned (#91) were singing covertly with them. The juncos have all but departed with the mass arrival of Zonotrichia. #92 was a voiciferous Red-headed Woodpecker calling form the neighbors yard to the east.

The dam should break this week as south winds start Thurs morn and rain is forecast for the weekend. Are ya'll ready? I sure am!!!

BARS = 49/108

I can finally say that I've seen a swallow in my yard...phew!
Yes, until today's brief look at a Barn Swallow b-lining it north, I had not ever recorded any swallow species in the yard...not even Tree Swallow yet! Here's to hoping I can tick that one off my yard nemesis list too.

In general the yard was DEAD. The best 2 birds were a Hermit Thrush and a Golden-crowned Kinglet. No sapsuckers, white-throats, juncos, phoebes, ruby-crowns.... According to tonight's radar it looks like that may change soon:

YWAR - 4/26

Picked up a nice yardbird this AM in the form of a distant singing Yellow Warbler thanks to the sharp ear of a stranded Sam Galick whose flight got canceled back to PHL last night. Also nailed down Bank Swallow and Osprey for the life yardlist thanks to visiting Putnut yesterday morning. A Chimney Swift was also a year tick. Up to three Solitary's in the pond now, hoping they pull something more interesting soon...

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Six Palm Warbler cruised through the field this evening. They are indicative that avian diversity has changed a bit in the last couple of days. 5 Brown thrasher were chasing each other around the front yard yesterday. Today the woods is filled with white throat song with 50 at a time under the feeders.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Money in the Bank

Had a goodn' today, the Barn Swallow was yesterday, today was an awesome look and listen to a lone Bank Swallow. Pretty weird, but heck I'll take it. We'll see if I can get up in the morning for some more action before work. Warndog out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Loony Bin

I'll have to be committed for this, but it is with amazement that I report my most recent yard lifer. I am situated in a location rather removed from most water in Ohio, but today, a half hour before sunset, I had a loose flock of FIVE Common Loons wing it over my yard today, headed due North. It happened while I was walking the land with binoculars in hand, cursing the apparent lack of migrant birds ironically, and then I saw them in the distance at a good height, not too far away thankfully, outstretched black and white with those flipper feet out behind, what a sight! They flew in and through right over my head. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Other birds in the yard included Palm Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Wood Duck, Mallard, and what seemed like an unusual number of Grackles. Plus the rest of the host of other birds. Still no ding dang Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Wastelands = FlyoverLands

#41 was Osprey today at 11:15AM...was also yard lifer #49

Hardly any time spent

Man, I've had hardly any time in the yard lately, working sucks. But I guess I do get paid to hang out at a nature center with awesome feeders and a pond filled with wood ducks and other cool crap, so its not all that bad. Let me tell you about a few of the yardbirds of the past week, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Purple Finch, Palm Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Vesper Sparrow, Gray Catbird, House Wren, and last night before sunset I had a fly over GREG. Kick ass. Especially since I really haven't had much time at all to bird the yard. Warning still lives.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Watch yoself Fitzy

Just had one of my best ever yardbirds- a singing flyby COLO (70/127) (whinnied about 15-20 times in a row, first distant, then real close but always hidden by the canopy). This after RCKI and YRWA finally showed up, 68 and 69 respectively.

Monday, April 19, 2010

moving up in the world

So how is it I'm the first one to get Broad-winged Hawk!? And I gots me Chipping Sparrow before Krazy Kat gets one in the Kaplan Feedlot?

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Hey dudes. I was out rock climbing in KY pestering warblers and my climbing buddies all weekend. The week preceding was so friggin busy I didn't have time or energy to post anything, not that I saw all that much, but did add a few things like BAEA, VESP, RCKI, and your mom, but I'll have to tell you all about that stuff later. Good luck.

Wren Retort to Peregrine Poetry

House wren did arrive
today to my lot
however one might say
"is that all you got?"

I had been excited
the wren to report
but after Rick's post
it amounts as no retort.

Falcon Rest

With my back to the ground
And my eyes to the sky
Through the blueness
A falcon speeds by.

Black helmet on head
White throat and breast
Sharp wings saber talons
Feathered food in quest.

Upper slate-gray
Darkly barred rear
Bigger than Merlin
Smaller than Gyr.

Eighty-eight this annum
For the yard it is
Another forever also
To add to the list.

Content with the sighting
And warm grass below
My lids are heavy
Under the sun's warm glow.

Banded bird

Yesterday Chris noticed an adult Sharpie sitting under the feeder. When it spun around there was a shinny silver band on the right leg. A mad dash to the car for a scope and camera proved fruitless as the hawk tried to take out a gray squirrel that was walking across the fence. Quick but fun - would have loved to lifted the numbers off that band....


Singing male Blue-headed Vireo (64) in the Black Oak above the house this AM, plus my first Vesper Sparrow (65) from the field to the northeast. At least 2 White-throated Sparrows sticking around the bath too. Still hoping to sapsucker, my archnemesis.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Back in the Game... (& UP recap)

Well, after further derailing myself by attending to Swamp Kat's and Haas's yardbird needs in the UP all week, I have finally returned to Putzville. Birding was frighteningly slow all day until I finally ticked off a long-expected LIFE YARDBIRD (a flyby), a bird which I don't understand why it took so long (and a resident species in MI). Instead of giving it away, perhaps you'd all like to wager a guess?

And Warner, wherever you are, what did you think of your new name in the sidebar? I figured I'd get at least a little bit of a retort?!?

Finally, here is some evidence of my journey to Brockway Mt. and back this week:

A couple of bums I picked up hitchhiking near Peninsula Point who thought they were both ET:
A looper helping a Swamp Kitten widen his lead atop the "lair":
A strange 'mystery' bird from Whitefish Point. Perhaps we could use some Palearctic expertise here, Harry?

A strange hominid I encountered at the famed Marquette "bog walk":My first view of Brockway Mt. It felt more like being out west than in Michigan.
As evidenced further by this cliff face which we mentioned multiple times as seemingly perfect Aeronautes habitat. Unfortunately, the 30 mph sustained northerlies put a damper on almost everything except the local ravens going airborne...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Almost Heaven -- Rail Virginia

No kidicking around ....Virgina Rail in the marsh last night.

Big Rig better get ready for the next exit cause the swamp kat is on yer tail.

Also, where the heck is Ben? I'm getting worried. I hope he's on vacation and not off pouting; it's just for giggles you know....


Had a Double-crested fly over while viewing from the roof this morn. Also, a flock of 6 Red-breasted Mergs above the tree line from the west boundary. Again, (for the third time) a sub-adult Northern Goshawk flew over. This has to be the same bird. Its to quick for the camera - or the operator...

45, 46, 47

45. Brown Thrasher
46. White-throated Sparrows
47. Swamp Sparrow (2nd record for a yard that does NOT contain proper habitat for this species).
All three species were singing as well. Another notable was my 3rd Winter Wren of the spring. It actually came out into the open for great extended viewing. I had only one record of that bird before this spring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

BRTH, EATO, and an overdue RBWO

Two new life yardbirds in the form of singing Brown Thrasher (#87) and Eastern Towhee (#88) this morning. Also picked up a calling Red-bellied Woodpecker (yr #68) which is surprisingly only my second record here in 6 months... Tried in vain for evening flyover goodies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Wastelands Haul and a Relative MEGA!

You guys aren't going to believe this! First off, I racked up 5 new species for the yard this morning--4 of which were new yard lifers. Things started off this morning with a fine look at a flyover Horned Lark (#36/#45). After taking care of a few things in the garage, I headed back out to the 'slab' and scanned the horizons (the only one that I can't see well is the eastern but I can get some decent views over the neighbor's roof). Here comes the incredible bit, quite possibly the best yard bird ever here at The Wastelands...

...I was meandering over to our front door from the slab for a bit of north horizon scanning. My wife poked her head out our front door (which faces to the east) to tell me something, I responded (can't remember what she said at the moment but I'm assuming all of you with wives can understand that), and then turned to the east. I noticed a medium sized songbird type flying right at me that was initially at about 100 meters. I got on it, noticed its undulating flight, and FREAKED as I witnessed a gorgeous Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (#37/#46) bank once and then bust over our roof!!!!! I have no idea where he was going our what he was doing in the neighborhood but this may be the best species yet for the yard. I couldn't believe it! The tallest trees in the neighborhood are 3-year old saplings of various deciduous varieties. There are random pines (unsure of the species) but nothing over 9 feet. The bird was flying low through the neighborhood so one can only assume that it was not simply clearing the area from point A to point B. Either way, I looked in the right place at the right time...it all happened in about 5 seconds. It makes me wonder what other interesting things I've missed. King Rail walking down the main street? Bored Smith's Longspur trying its luck in all the perfectly manicured lawnage? Geeze...who knows?

No less than 2 minutes after scratching my head over the wayward sappy, I looked up to see a Broad-winged Hawk (#38) glide over at a fairly low altitude. While watching the BDub snag a thermal, a small songbird flew through my field of view, chipped once, and landed in one of those gimpy ornamental saplings...BINGO!--Chipping Sparrow (#39/#47). I only had a few more minutes to spare before having to leave home but a small group of swallows winged over, one of which was a Northern Rough-winged Swallow (#40/#48).

Definitely one of the most memorable mornings in The Wastelands and I certainly have hope for some warby action once some of the major waves starting hitting this corner of NE Illinois.

SOSA and some wheezing

Picked up a silent Solitary Sandpiper that flushed from one of the logs along the edge of the pond this AM. A couple of flyover warbs remained frustratingly high and unidentified. A gnatcatcher called as it moved around the top of the weeping willow. Also finally had a Purple Finch singing this morning and Ruby-crowned Kinglets were singing from at least four directions. A lot of birds definitely pushed in last night... Now I can't wait to get out and actually spend a full day birding on Friday trying to nail down smith's longspurs a couple hrs south of me.

Oh yeah, one of the beavers from the lodge on the pond swam back and forth about 20 feet offshore looking at me for almost ten minutes this morning. Every 40 seconds or so it would smack it's tail and dive under water, only to resurface nearby and continue its patrol obviously watching me. This was the closest I'd ever observed a beaver and was amazed at how obliging it was!

Thank- you Caleb

Caleb wanted me to tell you he's still racking up yardbirds for me (he'd tell you himself but he just locked his keys in his car)....and just added Swamp Sparrow and Turkey Vulture.

Time to go find the Slim Jim.

Skye your next for the talent on wheels


Had my first ever yard Vesper Sparrow (#83/167) singing from the west boundary this AM. Several Great Blue Heron (#84) also flew by while I was on the old golf course one of which I was able to get back to the yard for. Not new, but a WITU flock came to the feeders this morning after a five month absence. Lots of Yellow-rumps moving this morn, as well.

Warbler War Spring 2010

Hey all - here's the scoop on "Warbler War 2010". For those of you new to the blog since we last had our Fall 09 Warbler War I think you'll catch on...
This is how it has worked - 1 pt for each warbler seen, 2 pts for seeing the first of spring and 3 points if at the end of the competition you are the only one who has seen that particular species. At the end 3 points was awarded to the person with the highest species total.

I propose that we split the competition into 2 categories: First, a total species category in which we would all compete in equally. Winner is the one who gets the greatest # of warblers in their yard.
Second, the points portion described above would be split into 3 separate competitions based on latitude: OH/Ill, LP of MI, UP of MI. This would negate any issues we might have with our latitude discrepancies. And any of us up north can still hurl insults down south when we get stuff before they do. We would still keep track of early/late dates on the side column, but just for fun. Also, you can put your dates as comments on the actual cell when you mark the birds you've seen (this SHOULD be done if you are the first in your competition to see a species). Check the new tab on the spreadsheet to take a look.
Make sense? If you have ideas give some feedback.

Monday, April 12, 2010

GREG pays us a visit

Five Great Egrets flew north over The Wastelands this afternoon--#35 for the year.

My son and I took a stroll around the neighborhood this afternoon (well, I strolled--he maxed out in a tricked out jogging stroller). Besides stalking up close to our Great Blue Heron neighbor, our quest was to determine if any House Sparrows live in the neighborhood. I pretty much know where every millet feeder is located around The Wastelands and we hit most of them on our trek. There were EUSTs, MODOS, HOFIs, and COGRs but not a single HOSP. What's up with that!!!??? Better luck next time.

Name dropping in the yard

I'm getting my eBird training in a few minutes so I only have a couple to brag about what flew through the yard today.

1) American Kestrel
2) Caspian Tern
3) Bonaparte's Gull -42
4) Purple Finch

other new species in the Portage today included Brown Thrasher and 2 Greater Yellowlegs.

Oh did I mention Michigan's IBA coordinator was in the House? Do I feel uber special. Good birder but kind of a putz.

Feeling like a "King" while "Warbling" in the "Field" with my sons

There's something about hearing/seeing your first migrant warbler of the spring (not the few resident YRWA's). This a.m. was no exception. I heard (but could not locate) my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the spring (#42). I quickly added some chattering and singing Ruby-crowned Kinglets (#43) as well. Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Kinglets were all there too.
This evening I birding in the back with my 1.5yr old bird-loving son in an attempt to SEE a Yellow-rumped. While he toddled behind pointing up and saying "burt" I heard and then shortly after located a Yellow-rumped Warbler. I proceeded to show my son who actually locked onto the bird as it flitted 20' above us. NICE! As son #2 (almost 7) ran out to find me I heard an unexpected #44 - Field Sparrow! I had my son stop and listen for the dropping ping-pong ball song and he got very excited as it sang again. I got FISP last year (just once at about this same date), but figured my habitat would not lend to it becoming a regular, but who knows!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Unexpected yardbirding opportunity

Due to unforeseen circumstances I find myself at home today, trying to stay ahead of Fitzgerald, and this morning around 8AM I finally added DCCO to the all-time yardlist (61/125). I fully expect to be losing by quite a few to Fitz by Friday...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wastelands Gets a Picidae

I have returned and yes indeed...I can now say that woodpeckers do occasionally make forays into The Wastelands. I had a single NOFL (#34/44) bust south (not north?) over the yard this morning. My hypothesis: the neighbor's radioactive playground equipment is working its magic.

I may still have a chance at a distant DOWO if I get lucky with scoping a few the available tree crowns to the north horizon. Maybe my only other woodpecker possibility is RHWO this spring?

Hey Dykstra...looks like I'm gaining on you again...::diabolic laughter::

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hanging with Chris Wood

Just wanted to briefly brag to you all that I am currently hanging out with Chris Wood (eBird project leader for Cornell), so there SLAGS! Awesome.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Yesterday I went out in the cold north wind and had a Sora belt out a call from the cattails that surround a portion of the ponds (I'm not sure whether this is just a passage bird - I had Virginia Rail in the same relatively small patch last fall, so who knows?). Other new birds include a Myrtle Warb from my balcony last evening, not one but two YBSA around the trees by my apartment this AM (really Caleb, really!) as well as a pair of flyover COLO's that gave great looks! A couple of phoebes have taken up residence near a shed on the far side of the pond and sometimes I can pick them out on the distant snags.
Other quality additions over the past week that I've been without internet include a pair of Green-winged Teal on the 5th along with three Ruddy Ducks. The following morning I was treated to a pair of Blue-winged Teal. I don't want to spend the time figuring out what order my new birds were in, so suffice it to say that I'm now at 58 for the year and 85 for all-time.
Bird on!

PUFI 'n Chips

Yesterday I scored 2 new birds for the year. I had one female Purple Finch trying to eek out a song of sorts. Also a singing Chipping Sparrow responded to my pishhing and lit on a branch in front of me - at which point I had one of those "wow, that bird is really handsome" moments.
This a.m. I had nothing new, but one more notable Winter Wren (not singing unfortunately) and a couple of Sapsuckers. Any luck yet Caleb?! You know that Harry Woodpecker you said you had in your yard the other day - if you see it again you might want to double check to be sure it doesn't have large white patches on the wings, a dusky back, red cap & throat and a yellow belly. Just trying to help.
BTW, I tried a play on words for CHSP this year, but it just didn't work as well as my FISP 'n Chips post from last year. Besides, I would like to have a FISP right about now!

one in the bank....

So I got 2+ more inches of snow this morning (with more falling!). Oh so fleeting the early Yooper spring. A ton of early season sparrows have flooded in (Trees, Songs, Juncos). With them has arrived a nice-looking Oregon Junco. I'll try to get a pic sometime today and post it up.
I'm hoping this storm brings in my first Fox Sparrow of the season as well..... or a Varied Thrush!


Hey- Fox Sparrow just showed up- still snowing......

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rumps & Rubys

A group of 3 Yellow-rumped Warbler (78) just landed over head in the new foliage.They were completely disheveled from the rain. A single Ruby-crowned Kinglet (79) also was scurrying about in the low branches. Lots of Hermit Thrush this morning, as well.

1:04AM- time for a new life yardbird

After spending 10:15PM-midnight on the roof (lots of seeps- mostly CHSP and SOSP, a few needing more analysis), I did my final listen off the back porch at 1:04AM and was THRILLED to have an AMWO peenting and twittering over the field to the south and west of the yard. Can hardly believe it (60/124). G'night.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


A nice assortment of new birds came in today probably downed by the torrential rains throughout the day. When I got home from work tonight I was greeted by two long overdue male Purple Finch (75) at my feeders. A subsequent walk around the property turned up a distant singing Brown Thrasher (76) and a mewing Gray Catbird (77). Judging by whats being seen just to the south in Berrien Co. there's a lot more to come.

BEKI & another CACG

It didn't rain until AFTER I left for work this morn, so the birding this AM was productive. Had a nice visit with BEKI (74) and a then two CANG and a single tailing Cackling Goose flew over.

Closer than I thought?

So in my attempt to keep up with the Big Dogs on this blog, I have been making daily (nightly!) attempts at all conceivable species for which I think I have a better than zero chance of getting. This has included Saw-whet and Long-eared Owl (yes, I am crazy, I know) tape-playing at night on calm, clear evenings. When doing this I point the speaker directly westbound toward a small (0.1-0.2 acre) pine plantation 500 feet west of my house. So far no luck. Note: I have also been checking for whitewash and pellets in this plantation since winter, without luck.

So, yesterday I took my daughter and the neighborhood kids over to the pines and was fairly shocked to find a small pellet plus a very small amount of whitewash. Analysis yielded at least 1 rodent prey (and possibly a shrew pelvis, but not sure) in the pellet, and its dimensions were consistent with only Saw-whet or Eastern Screech. Although EASO is here, it is actually 500 feet east of my property, and I wouldn't expect it to hang out in the conifer thicket anyway, so I think it almost certainly came from a migrating Saw-whet. Needless to say, even I am surprised I have been this close to having Saw-whet in my yard. I will keep checking for the roosting bird and continue playing tapes at night. If I get it, it will certainly be added to the rarity sidebar!

Day of Reckoning arrives early.

Looks like Big Rig and Silly Putz are sidelined today. Better stay in your basements boys, it's safer there.

Up top it's quiet and calm; a rain last night settled the air over Green Bay creating perfect conditions this morning for viewing ducks -- had all the dabblers except Green-winged Teal (where did they go?) and Wood Duck.. Great looks at Gadwall (8 birds) and a couple of drake Northern Shovelers (#74 and my last dabbler for the year).

Though a little anti-climatic, a Double-crested Cormorant provided #75 and a brand new perspective on this exercise. Undoubtably, the lead will be short-lived - I have seen the ugly side of War. The trend however is clear and the facts undeniable; Global Warming is no big deal.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Early Migrant Symphony (& #39)

In a short walk through my yard this a.m. I picked up 2 Golden-crowned Kinglets (#39) singing and flitting in the trees. Also joining the symphony was 2 melodic Fox Sparrows and several trilling Juncos. The Sapsucker tried to chime in too, but his squeeky attempts at music just ruined the whole symphonic experience. Oh, sorry to you guys that have not been able to "squeek" that one onto your list yet. Am I sounding ungratful to have them in my yard?! May I reasure you that I am NOT! I love every second of it.

an interlude from yard birding

where to began....

Stumbled across this little gem in the world wide net.
Despite the feel, no this is not a porno

ROPI - yee ha...

I don't even know why I'm posting this lame yardbird 'cept to make sure the Kat knows I'm steppin' on his tail and the Dog is fore-Warned of a lost lead.

High Quality hit

Boner, not Booner this time. Seriously, in the early morning fog just now, while trying (again, unsuccessfully) for Sapsucker, I looked up to see a gull flying over at low altitude, and shockingly, it had a black head and white triangles. Score another life yardbird (BOGU) for Putzville (58/123). Added CHSP yesterday but am still waiting on quite a few expecteds like TRES, HETH, WTSP, etc.

Also interestingly, I had my first ever "yard boundary"FISP (ie. I've had them many times singing outside my property, but never within it; this one came silently into the brushpile):
And these guys have become regular now, despite being a life yardbird just a week ago.

Hear ye, hear ye

0530 dead calm, perfect. During a very narrow window of opportunity I eeked out a distant woodcock (2 peents and 2 partial descending flight displays) followed by an Asio owl hunting Portage's cattails margins against an eastern sky. Both were short but memorable. I did not hear the woodcock until 0642 and was getting concerned with the growing symphony of truck traffic (was that you Big Rig?), winnowing snipe, and sparrows. I thought I might have to take more drastic measures to secure this shorebird for the yard.

Walking back to the house after sunrise I realized my yard now resembles a feed lot. The cacophony of blackbirds and tree sparrows brought on a feeling of embarrassment. Regrettably, during this time of year my life has but one narrow singular purpose and it isn't paying taxes.

When I was about 16 my dad said to me "the only reason I let you watch birds is because it is better than drugs".... a few months back Chris (bless her heart) asked him "do you still think that way?" to which, after a moment of ponder, he replied "at least with drugs he would have been done by now".

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Shoulda, woulda, coulda"

That's what my wrestling coach warned against saying after a match -- he was one of these 110% leave-it-all-on-the-mat kinda guys. With that in mind I mistakenly left the yard briefly today to see what was on the other side of the cattails .....NSHO, REDH, HETH, AMWO, & WIWR -- all nice trophies but just out of reach...

However, top honors tonight in the Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda category goes to the Asio owl (short-eared) that gave me the evil eye as it flew between myself and the lair on the other side of the marsh. How's that for a near miss?

The only legit yardie for the day was Ring-necked Duck.

setting the alarm for o-dark thirty, need that woodcock....need that owl.


On the morning survey of the yard I again missed YBSA but its still being seen south of me so there is still hope. A nice treat was a WIWR in full song, over and over. So awesome. Also sad was a lack of LOWAs. But did have a Yellow-throated Warbler singing repeatedly up stream, always a pleasure. Also two separate (or perhaps the same silly bird circling) American Pipit fly-overs. And the whole cast of others making a ruckus. A beautiful cold spring morning. Still hoarding the Fox Sparrows and Yellow-rumps, sorry to keep them so long guys. 73, and 74. But who's counting? ;-)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bonding in the Wastelands

No new yardbirds to report as of late because I just haven't been around much over the past couple of weeks. But that's certainly not an excuse...
Thought I'd share this pic...my son is obviously excited because he just saw his lifer SACRs flying over the Wastelands last Monday.


Prior to dawn - two Wild Turkey calling (71). At dawn a chorus of Chipping Sparrow (72). Looking forward to what the rain brings....

Trio of new birds the past couple days

Snagged a Barn Swallow on those gusty south winds on the afternoon of the 1st which also was a life yardbird bringing me to a tie with Slagster at 81. The next morning I tacked on a Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Kinglet bringing me up to 51 for the year. I also had an unfortunate brush with one of Naperville's finest who was patrolling the course in a golf cart (no, not a joke). He warned me that I was trespassing (despite a total absence of any form of signage). So I guess that means no more hawk-watching in the middle of the day... I now plan on being out there at the break of dawn only, to avoid golfers and management. At least until I figure out a way to spin to the course management that they can use my survey data in a positive way that reflects well on their environmental management (if anyone has any ideas of how to approach that, please let me know...). We also will be getting our own dsl connection hopefully as soon as Monday, so I should have regular internet access again soon. Man it's crazy how reliant you become on this stuff!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Brown Trasher.

Yes, the mis-spelling above was intentional. I like playing with this birds name. I made some strong effort this morning to add something, anything, to the list, but just had more of the same. But low and behold, later in the day I slid open the window and heard loud and clear the song of a mimid, my expected BRTH was back! I could see him from the house high in a tree singing full throttle. Very cool. Maybe something unusual will fly over, its like a barren wasteland out there in the air. Gotta work tomorrow, but I'ma try and get up to bird early.

Northern Goshawk

After a great morning with FISP, HETH, FOSP & YBSA I started to get some raptor flight. Initially, AMKE, then a couple RTHA and TUVU, then a persistent noisy young MERL, then a huge accipiter flew/soared over at tree top level - Northern Goshawk (70/166).



My name is Skye Haas, and I have a birding problem......

So not only do I bird so much that I haven't even worked my own yard in a week- but as of today I have finished off one 6-pack and started in on another, all before 9 AM!

So far today.....
American Wigeon (a life yardbird hurray!)
GB Heron
N. Flicker
A. Tree Sparrow
Common Grackle
Evening Grosbeak

Should be good hawk watching at the Haasienda this afternoon. Don't worry, I'll keep you'all posted.


Noontime additions:
Rusty Blackbird & BH Cowbird

5pm pick-up:
Purple Finch (doing a VERY convincing Yellow Warbler song!)

I gots my eye on you Slacker, er I mean Slagger

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Phew, another grueling day birding the yard and another six pack;
Eastern Phoebe (migrating over the marsh landing briefly in a tree)
Northern Flicker (2 seen while in the neighbors yard but the 2nd did land in my tree and stayed long enough to run back across my property line (am I taking this too serious?))
Brown Creeper -- cute little fella flew past me over open lawn to land in the neighbors elm tree).
Blue-winged teal (pristine looks in the evening -- guess they really were real).
Great Black Backed Gull (admittedly, stretching the ID a bit but was really dark-backed and wings without noticeable white windows leaving me to exclaim: "good enough for my yard-list"
Wilson's Snipe (after dark -- called then winnowed)

Sorry Big Rig but from now on I'll be watching you through the rear-view mirror. Keep your sunny side up and your rubber side down.....

A fool for birds.

Despite sleeping in (it was my day off, and heck, I wanted to give you guys a head start) I finally made it out into the yard and was greeted immediately by some good birds; Rusty Blackbirds and a few Fox Sparrows down by the creek. I had a number of birds on my hit list today and things went well on that front with only a few let downs. I wanted Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, YBSA, Black Vulture, Brown Thrasher and hoped for a Louisiana Waterthrush or something else cool like some fly over action. As I made my way along the creek I was in constant company of a dozen or so Golden-crowned Kinglets (and later I'd learn, several dog ticks). Then, a gurgling grunt from above made me look up and I saw a Northern Rough-winged Swallow wing it past! At a pool in the creek I had a wonderfully large Common Map Turtle, kind of a rarity along my creek. In the floodplain woods I was thrilled to find a Hermit Thrush as it hopped and ducked around the weeds and Osage Orange trees, I watched it for several minutes, what a sweet bird, and a bit of a nemesis, Yard Bird 134! For some reason I looked up and I'm sure glad I did, because cruising over were two Black Vultures! I'd seen them down the road, very close to my yard, but this was yet another Yard lifer (and yes, Skye, I guess this sp. does mean I'm a southerner). I almost missed them, since I was just entering the forest and the sky view was limited. There was a lot of TUVU around as well. Up on the skinny pine ridge I have, I unearthed a Winter Wren, I was very happy to find the little sprite. The only Warbler I could find was good old Butter But. No Sapsuckers! No LOWA! No Thrasher! Oh well, theres always tomorrow. Total bird count for the day? 50 Species, a number sure to be surpassed later in the month. I had to add BLVU to the spreadsheet, does that mean its rare? Hey you northerners, quit seeing so many cool ducks! Gahh.

Here they come

Woke up to my first (belated, I might add) Fox Sparrow and Eastern Towhee (a female, surprisingly). Then, while playing sapsucker tapes I had this surprise:
Only reason it's a surprise is that I haven't had this in the yard since at least Sept 2009, whereas they are typically present in the yard through the non-breeding season at least once a month. Go figure.

Hoping for Purple Finch, Hermit Thrush, Sapsucker, White-throated Sparrow and Tree Swallow within days. And despite two days of good nocturnal movement (judged by radar) the mic has ben surprisingly silent. My tally from 2 nights ago was: 1 probable Field Sparrow, 1 American Tree Sparrow, 1 unidentified Fox/Song/Vesper type sparrow, and a couple of run-of-the-mill mystery notes. Always fun.


Killer day in the swamp yesterday....adding 6 new yardbirds including a save by Skye Haas; I went to the mailbox without my bins (what was I thinking?) and looked up to see 2 Wood Ducks winging past....Skye was fondling himself in the backyard but heard my confirmation plea in time to raise his bins and bring it home.....

The real shocker though was a Barn Swallow among the ranks of 40+ Tree Swallows that descended from the sky into the marsh in early evening -- it seems early for that baby to emerge from hibernation. I undoubtably also had a Blue-wing Teal in with a group of Green-winged Teal but it was early enough to make me pause...I'll look for it today.

here are the for-sures (in order)

Green-winged Teal
Great Blue Heron
Wood Duck
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow