American Kestrels

  Female American kestrel at Goose Pond Sanctuary, photo by Jim Stewart

Female American kestrel at Goose Pond Sanctuary, photo by Jim Stewart

As you read in the November 2017 Madison Audubon Society newsletter, American kestrels have found a safe haven to raise young in south-central Wisconsin. Through our nest box program coordinated by Brand Smith and made possible through the efforts of many staff and volunteers, nearly 150 nest boxes have been installed and monitored since 2009, and have produced hundreds of these incredible falcons! In fact, our nest box trail is the second largest in the nation, just behind Sacajawea Audubon Society that monitors 151 boxes in the area around Bozeman Montana.

2017 was a very good year for American kestrels with a record number of 190 kestrel fledgling from 47 nest boxes. In the past five years 572 young have fledged.

In our region, American kestrels have declined 41% from 1966 to 2014 according to Breeding Bird Survey data. Our goal is to reverse that trend in south central Wisconsin. Check out this link to see the locations for confirmed kestrel nesting pairs in the Breeding Bird Atlas II. You will note a
large number nesting in Columbia County and in the other six counties.

 Breeding Bird Atlas data for American Kestrels.  View the interactive map here .

Breeding Bird Atlas data for American Kestrels. View the interactive map here.

We look forward to continuing the kestrel nest box program next year and beyond! If you're interested in helping install and/or monitor kestrel boxes, contact Brand Smith (brandsmith@charter.net).

  An American kestrel chick about to be banded as a monitoring effort through Madison Audubon and the Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research program. MAS Photo

An American kestrel chick about to be banded as a monitoring effort through Madison Audubon and the Central Wisconsin Kestrel Research program. MAS Photo

Six Species of Geese at Goose Pond Sanctuary

Goose Pond lives up to its name with six species of geese being found yesterday.  The Brant is very rare and was present at Goose Pond in April of 2000.

  5 species of Geese, Brant, Ross's, Snow, Cackling, Canada; Photography by Arlene Koziol

5 species of Geese, Brant, Ross's, Snow, Cackling, Canada; Photography by Arlene Koziol

Click to view Photo Gallery

Thanks to Arlene Koziol for the link to her geese photos from yesterday.  Thanks also to Tom Erdman for identifying the Brant (photo # 6 and 10 in the link).  Arlene also photographed Greater White-fronted, Snow, Ross's, Cackling, and Canada geese. What a rare treat to find and photograph all six of these species in one day at the same place! Congratulations Arlene! There have been many people out photographing geese recently and hopefully they were able to photograph the Brant.  

Last night, Lester Doyle was out just before dark.  Mark and Lester found five species of geese including a record 288 Ross's geese.  The Brant was not seen but could have been mixed in with the 3,700 Canada geese.  There were also 300 plus snow geese with blue color phase birds mixed in.  Some times of the day Goose Pond contains few geese since most are out feeding.  When the white geese return from feeding they are usually found resting on the far east side of the east pond.  In evening, after feeding around 6:00 p.m the great majority of geese and tundra swans move to the west pond for the night.  This also provides for better viewing.  

Also check the other local wetlands including Schoeneberg Marsh Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) and Madison Audubon Society's Erstad Prairie on Harvey Road about three miles northeast of Goose Pond and Jackson WPA, three miles southwest of Goose Pond on Oak Lane and Patton Road.  Randy Hoffman recently had 700 white-fronts in the pasture across the road from Jackson WPA.

Written by Mark and Sue Foote-Martin, Resident Managers Goose Pond Sanctuary

Goose Pond Waterfowl Count

We conducted a waterfowl count out at Goose Pond on March 27th. We counted in mid morning and also the last 40 minutes until dark.

Images of Goose Pond in Spring, Photography by Monica Hall

Goose Pond Sanctuary in Columbia County reminded us today of a prairie wetland in North Dakota with a lot of white birds. 

Highlights were 550 tundra swans and 1,730 snow geese.  There are some blues mixed in but many flocks are all the white phase.  This morning at 10:00 a.m. we counted 930 snow geese on the far east pond after they returned from feeding.  Tonight there were 180 snows on the east pond and 1,540 on the west pond.   We also counted 3,700 Canada geese, 72 white-fronted geese, 188 canvasbacks, 46 green-winged teal, 35 mallards, along with small numbers of blue-winged teal, gadwalls, lesser scaup, ring-necked ducks, and ruddy ducks. 

  Snow geese including the blue color phase (blue geese), cackling geese (smaller dark geese), Canada geese, and tundra swans at Goose Pond Sanctuary. Photo by Monica Hall

Snow geese including the blue color phase (blue geese), cackling geese (smaller dark geese), Canada geese, and tundra swans at Goose Pond Sanctuary. Photo by Monica Hall

It was difficult trying to count the geese and we did not keep count of cackling geese or Ross's geese.  The highest number of snow geese at Goose Pond according to ebird was our count of 1,230 snow geese in November 1991.

If you can not make it out to North Dakota this spring stop by Goose Pond Sanctuary.

Written by Mark and Sue Foote-Martin, Goose Pond Resident Managers.

Bird Count

The birds at Goose Pond Sanctuary welcomed the first day of spring on a beautiful day.

  Photography Credits: Arlene Koziol

Photography Credits: Arlene Koziol

A bird count along Prairie Land and Goose Pond Road found 570 tundra swans, 300 Canada geese, 80 canvasbacks, 36 greater white-fronted geese, 30 snow geese, 10 sandhill cranes, and 2 gobblers walking along the wetland.  Many more white-fronts and Canada geese were feeding in the surrounding picked corn fields when the count was conducted and were not included.

Other species present included northern pintails, northern shovelers, green-winged teal, lesser scaup, and ring-necked ducks. 

Last week, a merlin was present at Goose Pond.  American kestrels are also common this spring.

Written by Mark and Sue Foote-Martin, Goose Pond Resident Managers.

Goose Pond Breeding Birds of 2016

One of the highlights of 2016 was finding 51 species and 1,633 pairs of breeding birds at Goose Pond Sanctuary and at the adjacent 65-acre Manthe farm.  Most of the data was gathered from Heather Inzalaco’s master project with additional data provided by us.

Over 460 acres of restored prairie were surveyed and this large acreage accounts for the bulk of the breeding pairs. Grassland birds found included:

 Goldfinch nest,  Photo by Maddie Dumas

Goldfinch nest, Photo by Maddie Dumas

  • ring-necked pheasant - 28 pairs, 
  • northern harrier - 2, 
  • sedge wrens - 62, 
  • common yellowthroat - 212, 
  • clay-colored sparrow - 128,
  • savanna sparrow - 1, 
  • song sparrow - 302,
  • dickcissel - 23, 
  • red-winged blackbird - 365, 
  • eastern meadowlark - 46, 
  • brown-headed cowbird - 17, and
  • American goldfinch 47.

Check out this Friday Feathered Feature post to learn more about the breeding bird point count project at Goose Pond!