Chuck's Birding Report #59

26 April - 02 May 2021

Dear fellow flock of birders,

This past week has seen some days of great south winds. Many migrating birds jump on these winds to reduce the effort it takes to migrate all the way to Wisconsin, Dane County and the Arboretum. The number of different species seen by birders has increased significantly this past week. In warblers alone there have been 27 species reported in March, April and these first few days in May.

Last Wednesday I walked to the west end of the Visitor Center parking lot and was pleasantly surprised by the sounds of meowing. No, it wasn’t a cat but the bird is named after a cat. It was my first of year (FOY) Gray Catbird. After the meowing stopped it had to tell me at length about his flight up hear. It really had a lot to say. Which reminds me, now that the Gray Catbird is here you need to be careful to differentiate the Gray Catbird from the Brown Thrasher. They can sound similar but remember the thrasher often sings in doublets.

Last Thursday I came across a bird not often seen in the Arboretum and this bird, in fact three of this species, were seen in HoNeeUm. The bird was the Black-crowned Night-Heron. It was seen at the waters edge, two at the east end of the pond and one at the west end. Many birders got great look at this rare visitor.

Another water’s edge bird I saw the same day was a Green Heron perched on a branch close to the water and searching the pond for its next meal. Green Herons can really extend their necks to grab a fish.

Yesterday our family took a walk in Longenecker Gardens and primarily in the Crabapple collection to see all the blooming crabapple trees - so many different colors. While walking in Longenecker we heard the song of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak coming from a variety of Elm. It was loaded with seeds. In fact there were two male grosbeaks near the top of the tree, one singing and the other eating. They are said to sing like an American Robin who has had voice lessons. Both their song and their look are stunning. 

Today as I walked through the Arboretum and more specifically Curtis Prairie I came across 5 spectacular Yellow Warblers. Even though it was a cloudy day, the yellow of the warbler was bold and bright.  Not far down the path was a male Common Yellowthroat. The black mask of the male provides great contrast to the yellow of the throat. Both were FOY birds for me.   

As I rounded Pond 2 I saw two sparrows picking up grit from the path. They were two male White-crowned Sparrows. I have been seeing lots of White-throated Sparrows but I don’t often see White-crowned. They have white and black stripes on their heads. Since the stripes are rather high on their heads they look like miniature bike helmets to me.  

One final warbler I saw in a tree next to Big Spring parking lot was a Black-and-white Warbler. Even though they are just black and white they are beautiful birds. 

I saw many other species this week that I didn’t have time to talk about so I encourage you to get out and go birding. You will be surprised how long a list of different species you can make in the next couple weeks.

All good health to you and good birding too,


Green Heron

UW-Madison Arboretum, Madison, WI