Sunday, May 1, 2011

Warblers in the Cold, Again

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Another day of unseasonably cold, wet weather in west-central Wisconsin.  Temps in the mid-30s, with snow and wind.   Welcome to May, 2011.

I drove up through the Lower Chippewa River bottoms to see how the Yellow-rumped Warblers and other spring migrants were doing.

Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Shoulder of SR 25

Flocks of warblers concentrated together and behaved like sparrows.  They hugged the roadsides and flit around in prairie grasses and the still un-planted farm fields.

A Hovering Yellow-rumped Warbler

They were all over the vernal ponds, hovering like petrels, literally walking on the surface of the water.

Palm Warbler Hunting Insects Along the Lower Chippewa

The Yellow-rumps were not alone.  Our first-of-the-year Palm Warblers hung out with them, bobbing their tails as they foraged along the edges of the roads and water.

Spotted Sandpiper along the Lower Chippewa

A Spotted Sandpiper flew in, perched on a limb over the river near Meridean, bobbed its tail for a minute or two - and flew off.

I used to think the biggest challenge these early birds faced - when they're caught up in unseasonable weather - was finding food.  After driving around on paved roads for most of the day, I discovered how vulnerable they are when they forage on the ground near roads.

Yellow-rumped Warbler Roadkill

On the way home, I spotted dozens of little piles of yellow, white and gray feathers on the road.

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