Chuck's Weekly Birding Report #12

3 June - 8 June 2020


Dear fellow flock of birders,

Here’s to good health, continued bird watching and exploration of nature.

Again I believe bird migration through the Arboretum, and Dane County for that matter, has come to an end. I’m seeing about the same birds day after day in both.

What is new is the nest building, the egg laying and now the carrying of food to the nestlings, and the fledging of some of the nestlings. I’ve seen some young who have left the nest. They are not fully developed. For example some don’t have tail feathers yet. Another change is all the new sounds made by these youngsters mostly begging for food. It’s a whole new vocabulary to learn. These are the new challenges of birding at this time of year.

One interesting behavior I saw a few days ago was leaf bathing by a Yellow Warbler. I think I have only seen leaf bathing by a bird one or possibly two times before. When I observed the Yellow Warbler it was twisting and turning to contact the surfaces of multiple leaves that had morning dew on their upper sides. The dew was then transferred to the bird’s feathers. Once the feathers were sufficiently wet the Yellow Warbler stopped and perched on a branch to preen. I don’t know how many species use this technique but it’s probably more than we might think. A not-so-great photo of the Yellow Warbler and the leaves with dew is attached.

Another behavior I’m just beginning to see is the perching of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the very top of small snags. They are almost always males. I’m not sure why they do this but they may be looking for female mates, sources of nectar or just warming themselves in the morning sun. I’ve attached a photo of one of these Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to this message.

Today I saw three Turkey Vultures soaring over the Arb, keeping aloft with the south breezes. They seldom flapped their wings but held them in a slightly flattened V shape called a dihedral posture. Very characteristically their flight is not steady but a bit tippy as they move forward. The featherless red head was obvious in the sun. A photo is attached.

Two other birds that I saw this past week were not in the Arboretum but still in Dane County and certainly worth mentioning. They are the Dickcissel and the Least Bittern. Both are beautiful birds. The Dickcissel I saw at Brooklyn Wildlife Area on the north side of Bellbrook Rd. It is definitely a grass prairie bird. I saw the Least Bittern at the County Rd V ponds perched on the leaves of cattails. It is a marsh bird. Photos of both are attached.

I hope you all are able to get out and do some birding. If the birding isn’t good try identifying the new wild flowers that are blooming. A free app called iNaturalist can help you with that. Again I’m seeing more butterfly species and the dragonflies are becoming more numerous too.

Stay well and keep birding,



Note: June 22nd marks the beginning of summer. But did you know that June 22nd also marks the beginning of Pollinator Week? From June 22-28 and until August, Journey North will celebrate pollinators, specifically monarchs and hummingbirds. 

Read Pivotal Pollinators: Small in Size, Large in Impact to find out more about the importance of pollinators and why Journey North will celebrate Pollinator Week not just June 22-28 but all summer long.




UW-Madison Arboretum, Madison, WI