Birds of May

P.B. Cherokee 5-7-16 Jeff Galligan-11
Red-tailed hawk

While May is my favorite month of the year primarily due to the warbler migration, they are not the only thing migrating! There are plenty of other favorites and lots of action beyond the warblers! The following is a collection of some of my favorites from the month of May.

Below are a group of pictures of a Sedge Wren I was able to ferret out at Nine Springs E-Way in Dane County. This bird has been notoriously difficult for me to get good photos of, until May May 29th when I herd this little fella singing away as i was returning to my car. I was able to get out on a boardwalk and locate him.

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Sedge Wren 9 Springs 5-29-16 Jeff Galligan

Next are a couple of pictures of Yellow-headed Vireo’s. They are often moving around at the same time as warblers and are quite colorful in their own way. Notice how much stouter the bill is than warbler species.

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This juvenile Red-tailed Hawk landed next to my daughter and I when we were looking for warblers in Cherokee Marsh.

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I caught this pair of Northern Flickers engaging in a mating dance that I had never seen before. Amazing to watch and they were so enthralled with each other that they never even knew I was there.

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The Sandhill Crane is such an elegant bird and this one just begged to be photographed. When I hear their bugling calls rolling over a marsh, it is easy for me to imagine walking in a marsh 65 million years ago hearing herds of dinosaurs calling to one another.

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Another notoriously difficult bird for me to photograph is the Tufted Titmouse. I did get a few decent looks this year. In pictures two and three, the titmouse has a spider in its beak and a caterpillar pinned beneath its right foot. By picture four it has figured out hoe t get both of them in its beak.

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The Common Nighthawk is difficult to capture on film because they fly so quickly and erratically and often come out in the waning light.On an evening when I did not see any warblers and had returned to my car, I was suddenly inundated with these beauties in great light! I leaned against my car and enjoyed the show, taking several hundred pictures while I was at it. Some even came out OK!   I was shooting using 1/4000th of a second shutter speed to freeze the motion of these birds.

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I was able to locate a pair of Orchard Orioles this year as well, which is always a plus. Much less common than Baltimore Orioles, this bird is always a good find.

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Song Sparrows are very common but sometimes even the common birds pose nicely. This one had a nest in an area I always explore when I am in Pheasant Branch Preserve and never failed to make his presence and displeasure at my presences known.

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Here are some pictures of the American Robin nest above my garage. For the third consecutive year, this robin has nested in that spot. Sometimes birding happens right outside your front door!

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A Robin gathers nesting materials in the Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see this Black-crowned Night-Heron in Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy. It was my first at that location.

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Below is a Least Flycatcher. Cute little empid.

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A freshly bathed Blue Jay preens and drys its feathers.

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The beautifully colored Rose-breasted Grosbeak

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Female Rose-breasted Grosebeak

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The feisty House Wren is very interested in anything that comes within its territory. A lot of personality packed into such a small package!

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I was really fortunate to get a great picture of the rare Bell’s Vireo this year.

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A field Sparrow with lunch for the brood

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While watching Common Yellowthroats, this Yellow-billed Cuckoo suddenly landed very near me and did not realize I was there for a few precious seconds. Too bad the stick was in the way!

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It is sometimes easy to overlook the most common of birds, such as the Red-winged Blackbird. But I do try to periodically take the time to stop and notice what they are doing and take pictures when a good opportunity presents itself.

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I found a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched at Indian Lake Park and was able to get some pretty decent pictures of him.

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I am seeing Willow Flycatchers everywhere this year. Seems like a lot more than usual.

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Last year there was a White-eyed vireo at the UW-Madison Arboretum and I made several trips to find it and never did. Very frustrating. Then, one shows up at the Odana Golf Course and the first time I g for it…bingo! To make it even sweeter, the lighting was good, I was very close to the bird and it gave me great looks. Sometimes it just all works out.

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Eastern Meadowlarks have taken over Indian Lake County Park. I went there on Memorial Day and was pleased to see many of these birds.

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A Tree Swallow gives me the stink eye as I pass its nest box in Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy.

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A chipping Sparrow waits for me to move on so it can return to the ground to continue feeding.

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Like a periscope rising form the depths, a Canada Goose peers above the marsh growth and warily watches me.9 Springs 5-29-16 Jeff Galligan-7

Even Canada Geese are cute as newborn goslings.

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A very pleasant surprise awaited me during my first trip to Nine Springs this year. There was a beautiful American Bittern  fishing in the canal that runs along the southern boundary. It had an injured left knee which may have explained why it was out in the open for awhile. As can be seen in the fourth picture, it was doing quite well with catching leeches.

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The Mallard that could walk on water!

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A Spotted Sandpiper in breeding plummage.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are everywhere this year. I Even located a nest.

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Red-headed Woodpecker at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

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Short-billed Dowitcher at Horicon Marsh.

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My first ever Yellow-bellied Flycatcher seen at Horicon Marsh.

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The Gray Catbird. Gotta love the songs they create.

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Dunlin are one of my favorite shorebirds. These were seen at Horicon Marsh

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Greater Scaup male and then female seen in Manitowoc, while looking for the White-winged Tern.

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Bonaparte’s Gulls having a field day fishing for the abundant Alewives in Lake Michigan in Manitowoc.

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A magnificent Caspian Tern flies over the Manitowoc Impoundment

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The best bird I have ever seen in Wisconsin hands down was this mega-rarity, the White-winged Tern. It was only the second ever record in Wisconsin with the first being in 1863! It is a bird of Eurasia and Africa. I was looking directly into the early morning sun when these pictures were taken so the quality is not so good, but what a bird! It left the day after I got up to see it with Dominique.

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The White-winged Tern had a lot of birds, such at this juvenile Bonaparte’s Gull chasing it every time it took flight.

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This Mourning Dove was just begging to have its picture taken.

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An in flight shot of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow.

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On my first attempt for the Scuppernong Prairie Warbler I whiffed but this Henslow’s Sparrow made a fine consolation prize.It was the first I have ever seen. I had heard them before just hadn’t gotten a visual before.

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A White-faced Ibis visited Horicon Marsh this year and even led a yoga class for the shorebirds nearby.

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We were fortunate enough to see this hen Hooded Merganser with her newborn ducklings at Horicon Marsh.

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A Hermit Thrush that was unaware of our presence at the UW-Madison Arboretum.

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A Wild Turkey hen.

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A second year Baltimore Oriole hunts spiders on sticks and logs at Ho-Nee-Um pond,

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An Eastern Kingbird  gathers nesting materials

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2 thoughts on “Birds of May

  1. Jeff, truly enjoyed all of your photos of May. WOW! Great sightings and wonderful poses! Just back from Boston—had a great time, but wondered how things went for Edward, your student. Getting set for a kayak morning exploring some back waters of the Wisconsin. Have a great day. Patti >


    1. Hi Patti! Great to hear from you! Glad you liked the photos. Things went well for Edward and he has decided to go to Tufts. I believe Sarah gave him some good dining tips so thank her again for me. I will have to get up and kayak with you at some point if you are interested. Haven’t gotten out yet, there is never enough time in a day for me! I will be in Arizona from July 13-30 but other than that can make some weekend time if you are free.


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