Spring…It Is for the Birds

March 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm 2 comments

Like everyone else in Madison, I’m having a slightly mixed up response to this week’s beautiful and springlike weather. We are VERY happy to see the sun and pop open our windows. It seems like half the town is wearing shorts today. But we’re also realistic Midwesterners and pretty much everyone I talk to thinks that we’ll still get hit with one more snowstorm.

So I thought I’d check with the experts: my neighborhood birds. Today was the first morning that I heard them chirping outside my window. Unfortunately, I’m not a bird watcher so I can’t tell you who was singing. I did see several robins hopping around looking for lazy worms, so perhaps it was them.

Here at EnAct, we often talk about how wonderfully sustainable Dane County is. This ethic includes land and water protection, which means it is also a great place for birds. Just ask the kind folks at the Madison Audubon Society! They have a handy printable brochure (pdf) that points out the best places in Madison to find our fine feathered friends.

Bridge on Yahara River-perfect for birding

My favorite birding spot is just outside my front door: a paddle down the Yahara River between Lakes Monona and Mendota finds lots of birds along the shores and nesting underneath the bridges.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane, copyright International Crane Foundation

This is also a great time of year to open your ears and cast your eyes skyward. If you’re lucky, you might see a flock of sandhill cranes making their way from warmer climes back to our cozy Wisconsin marshes. They are huge birds, with a wingspan of 6-7 feet and they look a bit like a flock of geese overhead. But they have a very distinctive call that many people say sounds like children laughing. I have to give a shoutout to one of Wisconsin’s unique places: The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, where you can see many different species of cranes close-up; it is a great road trip adventure.

I’m pretty sure that where ever you are in Madison, birds are there, too. Here’s a red-tailed hawk that a friend took from his apartment balcony just last week. They are one of my favorite urban predators.

Redtailed hawk in Madison

Redtailed hawk, copyright Rob Pflieger

So go on, get outside to see who has arrived and decide for yourself if spring is here to stay. Remember…the early bird gets the worm! (You knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?)

Be green. Have fun.


Entry filed under: other.

Water, Water Everywhere? It’s the Time of Year for Fair-Hopping!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Isabella  |  March 22, 2010 at 7:41 am

    I absolutely love birding!!! I used to do it a ton so I would know calls and can visually ID pretty well. Admit that I’m a bit rusty these days, but maybe I’ll go out to some of my favorite haunts one of these mornings!

  • 2. Bob Stoffs  |  March 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Another sign of spring — the peregrine falcons have returned to the nesting box on MGE’s Blount Generating Station! See http://www.mge.com/about/falcon.htm for new videos and also videos of last year’s chicks.


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