Wednesday, June 8, 2011

baby Green Herons, cuckoo, silent owl, Snipe Fly

Biking in my 'hood this afternoon, I did a double-take and a U-turn upon "seeing white" on the pavement. Under a maple tree near a creek, there was a generous splattering of processed fish, thanks (I figured) to a pair of GREEN HERONS. I think I did the same stop/check last week, but found nothing. Today I peered up into the maple branches, but couldn't see any herons nor any nest. But I happened to look under a nearby conifer, and there were two light-green eggshells, and more whitewash. Sure enough, up in the needles were four fledgling Green Herons, grayish down still clinging to their heads. Could those eggshells have lain on the ground for the two-to-four weeks between hatching and fledging? With all the calcium-seeking critters ou there, including birds of many species that need to replenish their supply (from laying their own eggs), I doubt I reckon the parent herons have already started a second brood. Cool!

Heard something outside the house this morning (6 a.m.) that I've only rarely heard "from the yard" -- a series of hollow "coo" notes, mostly 8-12 in a group, but once up to 18. This was not long after thunder, lightning and a few raindrops...twas a "Rain Crow," a.k.a. a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. I couldn't see the bird, but it seemed to be calling from a neighbor's Walnut tree. I associate Walnuts with Fall Webworms and their webby nests...and cuckoos are known to eat these and other hairy caterpillars. The half-hour spent calling from that tree made me think this cuckoo was a male seeking a mate. You can hear a couple (of many) recordings of YB Cuckoos through Cornell's Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds -- for example, or 106712.

Sometimes an adult owl will fly in, sans vocalizing, in response to an imitation of its call. I've seen that happen twice in the last few days in different locations with a BARRED OWL. Having newly fledged young might put a damper on their response-calling.

I think today was the first time this year that I've seen the enchanting (and well-named) GOLDEN-BACKED SNIPE FLY. For some photos, go to and enter that name in the Search box. Ya gotta love (some) dipterans.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Any readers in June?

I'm wondering if any of the General Public (on The Annointed) might be reading this little blog in the month of June...? or is it too hot to read. Tuesday June 7th I'll go out quite early, before it's fully light I hope, and use my eyes and especially my EARS to see what might be within reach by bike, eyes and ears. I don't think you can see very much before 4:30 (or even 5:00), but birds are singing up to an hour before that. Have you read Aldo Leopold's appropriate chapter in "A Sand County Almanac?" Have you donated lately to AFSCME, OneWisconsinNow or WORT Radio? Will you drop me a line at
? and darned if the weather forecast for THURSDAY doesn't seem ideal!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


June is a great month in Madison for finding/observing/learning the songs of all the locally breeding birds, as well as seeing four species of turtles and getting started on butterflies and dragonflies. It's also a great month to get up at 4:00 a.m. Stay tuned for many biking tours! Let me know of your interests and availability (time, day, place):