O.K. I have this thing for quirky titles.... Anyways, spring migration is long over and done. Everything has settled in making nests and raising young. The rare bird reports have dwindled to a few sightings. Now, I have a little more time to write.
Today's focus is on the large and medium sized wading birds of the heron and crane families. I'm sure many readers here have seen a few of them.... The basic difference between cranes from the herons are their necks. Herons and bitterns fly by keeping their necks retracted while cranes don't. There are 11 species of herons and bitterns that have been observed in Wisconsin. I've only seen 8 of them. Both of the species of cranes I've seen.
Starting off with the most common heron in Wisconsin, is the Great Blue Heron (picture below taken at Bong SRA 8 2 2013) Great Blue Herons can be found in most any pond, marsh, creek, bog and shoreline across the state. I've pretty much seen these graceful creatures everywhere.They'll eat most everything within striking distance including fish, frogs, snakes, small mammals and even ducklings. They build large nests high in barren trees, sometimes in colonies. These colonies are called rookeries. (There is a rookery at Nicholson Wildlife Refugee in Caledonia. It can be easily viewed from 4 Mile Rd and Nicholson).
Almost as common and often sharing the same habitat as the Great Blue Heron is the Great Egret (picture below taken at Smolenski Park in Mt. Pleasant 8 22 2012). Almost as large as a Great Blue Heron, their white, flamboyant plumage makes them a stand out in the tall reeds. General speaking, they are a bird from the South. Their range has increased over the years northward. I have been seeing them just north of Appleton, recently. Sure fire spots to see them are at Horicon Marsh, Bong and various ponds in the county. A great bird to see!
A close cousin of the Great Egret and a great find in Wisconsin is the Snowy Egret. Sticking closer the southern and southwestern American coastlines, they do sometimes wander inland as far as Wisconsin during migration. There are only a handful of sightings in Wisconsin, including one near Madison this spring, have been reported. This makes it a rare treat to see. I have only seen one out in California as shown in the picture below at Dana Point. (It's the little guy on the right, the other one is a Great Egret)
Another rare treat to see is a Tri-Colored Heron. Like the Snowy Egret, they are mainly found in the southern American coasts and a small handful of sightings reported here in Wisconsin, including one in Two Rivers this spring. My only sighting was at the Finday Rd VPA in Jefferson County near Whitewater.on 6 22 2013 (see picture below) I found about this guy through my eBird reports and made a small journey to find it. Glad I did!
Another good find is a Black Crowned Night Heron. As common as they are, they are hard to find. True to the name, these small and stocky birds spend their evenings and nights foraging on a diet of frogs, crayfish, fish, clams and small mammals. During the day, they can be found roosting in trees or hidden in the tall marsh reeds like the one I saw at Humbolt Park in Milwaukee 4 23 2014 (see picture below). I have only seen a few of these. Good places to find them are at Horicon Marsh and the Juneau Lagoon in Milwaukee.
Even more common than the Black Crowned Night Heron (and easier to find) is the Green Heron (see picture below taken at Myers Park in Racine on 5 15 2014. They can be found hidden among a tangle of branches on the marsh edges. Ever standing still and silent, they'll stake out prey of small fish and frogs. They of one of the few tool using birds in the world. They'll use a worm, a twig or a feather to lure a fish to its clutches. I have seen them at Smolenski Park, the Pike River Pathway between Hwy 20 and Spring Street and at Nicholson. They are known to breed at Trout Ponds on 4 Mile Rd.
More often heard than seen, a bird Tender Heart describes as her "nemesis", an American Bittern. This is a fun story to tell.... While driving slowly through Horicon Marsh Auto Tour & Trails, Tender Heart saw a medium sized brown bird snaking its way through the tall grass along side of the road. She stopped the car to ask me what kind of bird it that. The bird stood perfectly still to blend in the grass. It took me a second or two to see it, but I identified it as an American Bittern and handed her the camera (see picture below). That is the defense system for the bittern. They are the masters of camouflage! When threatened, they'll lift their heads up and stand still to fool one in thinking its a part of the surrounding tall reeds. When Tender Heart put the car in drive it resumed its stalking through the tall grass... Cool, huh? Since then Tender Heart has been searching high and low for another one. We have heard them at Bong and Horicon since them.
Much more easier find and much more common than the American Bittern is the Sandhill Crane (see picture below taken at Tichigan SWA 6 3 2012). Tender Heart and I often see these tall and graceful birds foraging in many farm fields and marshy areas all over the state.They are quite easy to spot from the road. They are known to form large flocks in the fall in preparation for migration. The best spots to find them are at Horicon Marsh and at Bong SRA.
The Holy Grail of findings is the close relative of the Sandhill Crane, the elegant and endangered Whooping Crane.If one is extremely lucky, they may find one of these rarities in a flock of Sandhills. Fewer than 600 Whooping Cranes remain in the wild. Up from 15 individual birds in the 1940's, tireless conservation efforts have reintroduced them to Necedah NWR and Horicon Marsh where they have bred successfully. The process is slow moving, many threats still remain. Accidental shootings (Sandhill Cranes are considered a game bird in some places), collisions with power lines, and Black Flies (during nesting season) poses some problems. Many observers have confused Whooping Cranes with Sandhill Cranes and Great Egrets. The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America, white with a red cap. Sandhills are brown while the Great Egrets are smaller with NO red cap. Another great identifying mark is nearly ALL of the Whooping Cranes have leg bands and/or radio transmitters on their legs. Tender Heart and I were elated and lucky to see one at Horicon Marsh on May 17 2014 (see picture below)
I know it's a long blog, but with an amazing spring migration taking much of my time, I'd thought I'd bring readers up to speed of my latest sightings. That is, till fall migration....
Hello, my warming wits!How are you?It’s like someone
threw a switch and now suddenly it’s hot.Maybe soon there’ll be only two seasons: winter and summer. Or
winterspring and summerfall.Now I
remember what it’s like to sit in traffic with a broken a/c as salty droplets
form and fall from my forehead.Still,
I’ll take it compared to last January when it was 20 below zero.
It’s early in the season.There’ll be many hot days over the next three months.Let’s take them one day at a time.And, if the hole in the ozone layer is 5
times previous estimates, it won’t matter anyway.We’ll all be cooked or baked from the inside
Meanwhile, the weather on Earth is wacky.There’s not much that we as individuals can
do to stop the big polluters.It’s all
about the $.It’s always about the $.
And I must admit that I benefit from much of the technology
out there.I use power that’s produced
by coal.So if it comes down to the
environment versus Facebook, we all know that the environment will lose.
It’s cheaper for the major polluters to pay EPA fines than
to meet their standards.Oh my.
I see that our rash of robberies continues.I’ll pray for Racine.Anyone who knows anything about these crimes,
please come forward with your knowledge.You can do so anonymously. We have to “nip it, nip it in the bud.”If we don’t get a handle on these crimes, the
outside world’s “perception” of Racine
may be negative.
Thank you all for stopping by here today.I enjoy your company.That goes for newcomers, too.
Enjoy summer activities while you can.The weather is so changeable; it’s difficult
to make plans.I don’t think we need any
more rain, but it looks like that’s what we’re going to get.Still, that’s better than 20 degrees below
"BMO Bank located at 4100 Durand Avenue was robbed this afternoon around
1:30 p.m. A possible suspect who fled from officers investigating the
bank robbery was taken into custody in the 4400 block of Victory Avenue
according to Racine Police, although the police department cannot
confirm, this is an open investigation.
perimeter was set up by officers after the suspect fled down 17th
Street. This is the the latest bank robbery, with Chase Bank on 21st
being robbed on Monday, and Wells Fargo at 1700 MLK being robbed twice
in three days at their location.
"Officers reponsded to a bank robbery at Chase Bank 5815 21st St that
happened around 3:10 p.m. Suspect is described as a Black Male in his
20s wearing all back described as having a thin build about 5’6″.
Reports state that he did display a small handgun .If you are in the
area and observed an individual matching that description please contact
police at 262-886-2300."
"If you enjoy the events the downtown Racine businesses put on for First Fridays, you might enjoy their Third Fridays events, which will begin at 4 p.m. on June 20.
"The Downtown Racine Corporation puts on the First Friday event and will be hosting its first third Friday event in June, July and August. "Here’s what event organizers posted on their Facebook page: “'You can expect the same exciting line up of activities you find at a
First Fridays like live entertainment, great shopping, artistic
exploration with family and friends. You won’t want to miss this month’s
entertainment as everyone’s favorite, Mean Jake, hits the main stage on
"June 16 (RACINE, WIS.) - The Racine Raiders open their 2014 season against
the Leyden (Ill.) Lions on Saturday, June 21, 2014, at 7 p.m. at Historic
Horlick Athletic Field.
"The evening is dubbed 'Education Appreciation Night.' The team has several
activities planned for the evening including clowns, the Racine Kilties Drum and
Bugle Corps, scholarship presentations and a special giveaway to one school in
the Racine Unified School District (RUSD). "The Racine Raiders will give $500 to one school in RUSD during a special
halftime drawing. "Employees of RUSD will receive half-price admission when they show their RUSD
identification card at the Historic Horlick Athletic Field ticket windows on the
day of game. They’ll also receive an entry form with each ticket purchased to
enter their school into the random drawing for the $500 prize. "The Raiders will also present scholarships to four graduating seniors from
Racine County at halftime. The Raiders distribute four, $500 scholarships
annually through a competitive process. "The world-famous Racine Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps continue a regular
tradition and will perform at halftime. "There are also activities for kids planned. Cuddles and Billy Boy, two area
clowns, will be available from 6-8 p.m. to make balloon animals and paint the
Racine Raiders logo on kid’s faces. "The Racine Raiders have again teamed up with the Racine Journal Times for a
bike giveaway at every home game. Instead of having kids collect autographs in
the Racine Raiders yearbook, the team is challenging kids with a scavenger hunt
for different items or information at each game. Everyone who competes the
scavenger hunt by a specified time will be entered into a drawing for a chance
to win one of two bikes to be given away at each home game. "In addition, RelyLocal Racine/Kenosha will be on-site selling RelyLocal
Rewards Cards for $15. Anyone that purchases a RelyLocal Rewards Card at the
game will receive a coupon good for $5 off of a minimum $15 purchase at the
Trading Post that night only. The card is good for discounts at hundreds of
local businesses in Racine and Kenosha. "The Racine Raiders, a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization, begin their
62nd season of operations in 2014. The Raiders won their eighth national
championship in 2012. For more information on the Racine Raiders and their
mission to advance football in Southeastern Wisconsin, please visit http://www.racineraiders.com."
"Is this in the best interest of City taxpayers and has Venu-Works turned
the Civic Centre Enterprise into a profit center for the City; or it a
profit center for Venu-Works of Racine LLC Registered Agent Rik Edgar and the multitude of vendors and contractors who service the Civic Centre and collect taxpayer funds?"
Every Wednesday, Madame Zoltar responds to your queries and comments in her blog, Dear Madame Zoltar. Are the stars in your favor? What to do with that 401K? Find out by sending your questions and thoughts to: firstname.lastname@example.org
"The famed Bald Eagles from Decorah, Iowa are back on their nest and ready to start a new family! World famous and live streamed via the internet by the Raptor Resource Center, anyone can view the parents raise their eaglets from egg to fledglings from the comfort of their homes. Using infrared cameras and microphones, the eagles can be seen around the clock during the nesting season, which starts in January or February and runs till June."
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