Chuck's Weekly Birding Report #1


Dear Journey North flock of birders, 

17- 24 March 2020  

Sometimes birding is all about timing — being at the right place at the right time. American Woodcocks have arrived at the Arboretum. At dusk, the American Woodcocks make an unusual nasal sound called “peenting”. Then individual American Woodcocks often fly into the sky and make a different chirping sound. What a sight at sundown. On a clear evening when you might see the American Woodcocks flying against a relatively bright sky to the west after the sun has set.

The first arrival of a flock of male Red-winged Blackbirds occurred the next day on March 3, 2020. The five Red-winged Blackbirds each took a position at the top of 10-20 foot tall Burr Oaks spread and sang loudly proclaiming their territory to other Red-winged Blackbirds. Since then more Red-winged Blackbirds have arrived and staked out their territories. The female Red-winged Blackbirds will arrive later.

Wood Ducks have been seen. Wood Ducks are easily spooked and will fly off. Approach with care and with silent feet. 

Ice-out has occurred. Many ducks seen on Lake Wingra including a Horned Grebe and some Red-breasted Mergansers. The Carolina Wren has been heard calling.

The best bird sighting this past week has been my first warbler of the year, a Yellow-rumped Warbler working the trees and shrubs.

Also observed, 24 Turkey Vultures perched in a couple trees.

Five Great Blue Herons have also started to perch on or near the 12 nest - rookery.

A pair of Sandhill Cranes were busy probing the ground for food in the marsh. Since Sandhill Cranes are philopatric it is most likely the same pair that seen each year at that location. However, the marsh seems too wet to build a nest this year. While I was taking a video of the cranes feeding, they stopped suddenly, put their heads up, and let out an exceptionally loud unison call that almost made me drop my camera.

I saw two pair of Eastern Bluebirds. One pair was singing back and forth.

Last but not least, four male Wild Turkeys were displaying for a lone female. She ignored the boys and just kept foraging for food.

Good birding to you,


Journey North is a program of the University of Wisconsin, Madison Arboretum. Journey North could not have found a better home than the Arboretum with whom we share the same vision: to be “a global source of knowledge of and a model for restoring ecologically sustainable relationships between people and the land through integrative, innovative, and collaborative approaches in science, stewardship, education, and public engagement.” We hope you share this vision as well and continue to be a part of our community. Chuck is a prime example of a Journey North participant sharing his love of birds and place through his reports and photos. Additionally, we hope you will learn more about the UW-Madison Arboretum and its programs.