Featured Sanctuary Bird

American Goldfinch

Great horned owls initiated the nesting season in southern Wisconsin in February, and the American goldfinch is ending the region's nesting season late this August.  Almost everyone is familiar with this cheery species - a favorite feeder bird that likes to feed on sunflower chips.

On August 27th, we found a female goldfinch incubating eggs in a nest in a willow sapling about four feet high.  We have been seeing many goldfinches this summer and were not surprised to find a nest in late August.

Goldfinches are late nesters and they like to use thistle down to line their nest.  By nesting late they also avoid parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds.  Another benefit of nesting late is that newly-fledged young will be able to find seeds that are ripening.  

At Goose Pond Sanctuary goldfinches like to feed on prairie dock and sawtooth sunflower seeds. We usually pick the prairie dock seeds just before they are ripe, or we risk losing them to the goldfinches. If we see large flocks of goldfinches in the prairie, it is a phenological signal that it is time to collect the seed of these two species!

This week, we observed young barn swallows and mourning doves in nests and the goldfinch nest will probably be the last active nest we will find for the first year of the bird atlas project.  However, we are still looking for families/broods of some species such as wild turkeys.  We enjoyed working on the bird atlas project this year and are now busy entering our data.  If you find a bird species that you would like to submit atlas records for, please contact your atlas coordinator found in the link provided here. http://wsobirds.org/atlas-county-coordinators

Written by Mark Martin & Sue Foote-Martin

Photo by Chad Horwedel

Featured Sanctuary Bird: Northern Flicker

Featured Sanctuary Bird: Northern Flicker

This week's Friday Feathered Feature is the Northern Flicker - These handsome birds are popping up all over our Faville Grove Sanctuary! Though you might expect to find woodpeckers in a tree, they are often stirred up from the ground, foraging on ants and beetles. Their unusual, slightly curved beak helps dig up these little critters.

Featured Sanctuary Bird: Mourning dove

Featured Sanctuary Bird: Mourning dove

Mourning doves are one of Wisconsin’s most abundant and widespread bird species, with the continental population estimated to be over 400 million. As Goose Pond Sanctuary’s most numerous winter bird species, mourning doves were well-represented on the Great Backyard Bird Count, with a high of 117. Numbers were even greater at the end of February, with about 180 being counted.

Featured Sanctuary Bird: American tree sparrow

In preparation for the Great Backyard Bird Count (Feb. 14-17), we are featuring theAmerican Tree Sparrow! This plump bird has a long tail, and is a frequent backyard visitor in the snowy months. After winter, these sparrows fly north to their cold breeding grounds in the tundra.

American Tree Sparrows are often found in small flocks on the ground, feeding on weeds or seeds. You might find an individual perched on shrubs, stalks, or low tree branches.

With plenty of prairie and hedgerow habitat provided, as well as a constant supply of mixed birdseed (sunflower, millet, and cracked corn) spread onto the ground in several locations, our Goose Pond Sanctuary has become an ideal location for this winter species. In February, there were more than 130 American Tree Sparrows at our feeders!

But you don't need to travel far to see these rusty-capped birds. Take just 15 minutes this weekend to watch a nearby feeder, and you may spot this sparrow! Then, reporting your sightings to eBird completes your very own Great Backyard Bird Count. With this data, scientists are able to better investigate migration trends, distribution, and habitat, and you get to learn more about the birds in your area. Don’t have a backyard? The Great Backyard Bird Count can be done in a park or local neighborhood area. Get started!

Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar, Flickr Creative Commons