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Winter Migration

Fall is quickly approaching, some say it is here, this means birds are starting their winter migration.  During migration times it’s a good time to view birds you don’t usually see.  Making sure you have a good water source, and a varied choice of bird seed raises your chances of viewing more and a larger variety of birds.  I use sunflower seeds, a mixed nut and thistle in my feeders to attract the most variety of birds.  I often sit with my binoculars and camera in hand out on my porch waiting to see a new bird.  Most birds migrate at night, and I have found that mornings are the best time to see them.  They have stopped for a rest and are feeding/refueling to continue their journey.  Keeping your eyes and ears open for what might be a big surprise is a big pay off this time of year.

Happy Birding!!



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Get a bird feeder, go where the birds are.


When bird watching there are some things that will help you in identifying what you just saw.


First what size was it?  Sparrow, Robin, Crow, Mallard, or Heron?


What color was it?  Black and white, brown with stripes on its head, yellow with gray on its wings, or blue and black? 


What was it doing?  Was it on the ground, in a tree, at your feeder, flying, or swimming?


These couple of things will help you narrow down what you saw.  Size, color, and activity are crucial in determining what the bird is.  Some birds don’t like to be down low; others do.  Some birds eat bugs, others eat seeds.  The more you pay attention to all the details of what you saw, will help you identify your newfound bird.


As you look and see more things you will find that you will understand more things and in turn you will see more things.  You will learn new behaviors of different types of birds.  And then you’ll be hooked!  Happy Watching!


Bird Sightings

Northern Wisconsin Species...

Courtesy of


Magnolia Warbler

(Setophaga magnolia)

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Many male warblers are black and yellow, but Magnolia Warblers take it up a notch, sporting a bold black necklace complete with long tassels, a black mask, and a standout white wing patch. The female lacks the male's bold accoutrements, instead wearing an elegant white eyering on her gray head, 2 thin white wingbars, and yellow underparts with moderate streaking. These boreal warblers breed in dense stands of conifers and stop off in all types of forests during migration, where they forage at the tips of branches.


  • Magnolia Warbler occupies a very broad range of habitats in winter: from sea level to 5,000 feet in cacao plantations, orchards, forests, and thickets.

  • In 1810, Alexander Wilson collected a warbler from a magnolia tree in Mississippi, giving it the English name "Black-and-yellow Warbler" and "magnolia" for the scientific species name, which became the common name over time. 

Info courtesy of

The Cornell Lab


Blackburnian Warbler

(Setophaga fusca)

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No birder can forget that first breeding male Blackburnian Warbler: the intricate black-and-white plumage set off by flame-orange face and throat, the impossibly high-pitched flourish at the end of the song, the cool of north-woods habitat in the morning. These forest-canopy specialists are seldom seen at eye level except during migration, when they may be found among dozens of other warbler species at sites that concentrate migrants in spring and fall. They spend winters in South America in open forests including shade-coffee plantations.


  • No other North American warbler has an orange throat.

  • Tiny Blackburnian Warblers are strong fliers that travel between North and South America twice each year, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that they’re occasionally found very far off course. At times, “vagrants” have been recorded in Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, and the Azores off western Africa. 

Info courtesy of

The Cornell Lab


Chestnut-sided Warbler

(Setophaga pensylvanica)

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The crisply plumaged Chestnut-sided Warbler is not your average warbler of the deep forest. These slender, yellow-capped and chestnut-flanked songsters thrive in young, regrowing forests, thickets, and other disturbed areas. Look for them foraging among the fine branches of slender saplings, tail cocked, and listen for males singing an excitable pleased, pleased, pleased to meetcha! In fall, this bird molts into lime-green and grayish white plumage with a distinctive white eyering, and heads to thickets, shade-coffee plantations, and second growth forest in Central America.


  • Individual warblers return to the same areas year after year, joining back up with the same foraging flock it associated with the year before.

  • The Chestnut-sided Warbler sings two basic songs: one is accented at the end (the pleased-to-meetcha song), and the other is not.

Info courtesy of

The Cornell Lab
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