Driftless Prairies: Native Habitat Restoration

Nature inspires awe!

Bird Inventory

The following is a list of birds we have experienced at the Driftless Prairies. This listing will be ongoing and “under construction” for the rest of my life!!!  Click on the bird’s name and you’ll see photo/s and tidbits of information. Here’s the references for those tidbits!

The most vulnerable time in the life of a bird is the egg stage and the nestling stage. Predators range from other birds to mammals to snakes. Even insects such as black flies cause death. Each bird has a “signature” nest building design and preferred location for building; some use preexisting cavities such as woodpecker holes or nest boxes that we humans create for them. If they were all the same, it would be like a red neon sign pointing the way for predators.

Birds insulate themselves by fluffing out; this allows their body heat to be trapped by the air surrounding their feathers, keeping them warm. For additional warmth, some will tuck their heads and feet into their feathers. Birds use their wings as raincoats because a cold rain can be very hazardous; if their downy feathers get wet, they lose their warmth. The birds found in our northern climates in the winter have a higher metabolism. They eat during the day and burn those calories off at night staying warm. They do lower their body temps in order to stretch out the accessible calories. Without food availability, these birds would not survive.

Birds that are found in wooded areas and forests depend on snags or standing dead trees. Nearly 1/3 of these birds use the snag for nesting or locating food, such as beetle grubs that are inside.

Loss of appropriate habitat is reducing the numbers of many of our bird species. Habitat is being destroyed by urbanization, farming, and degradation. Farming practices are changing but there’s still much to be done. Degraded habitat can be turned around with some effort. These areas that are allowed to be taken over with non-native bushes leave no food for the birds. This can be devastating for those migrating and in need of food. Thank goodness for the trees, though; most birds migratory paths are east of the Mississippi because of the abundance of trees and trees equal insects. McCormac has a great sentence in his article; “conservation of songbirds starts with conservation of native plants.”

Caterpillars seem to be a preferred food source for many birds, even Chipping Sparrows who are known to be vegetarians. Most warbler diets are 30% caterpillars and vireos are a caterpillar’s greatest fear; maybe this is why caterpillars have such great camouflage and emerge at night.

I love learning the songs of the birds. Sometimes this is the only way I know they are around as many can be quite shy. Birds sing for a variety of reasons, the two most common reasons are territory marking and attracting a mate. What’s particularly interesting is to hear the regional dialects of the same type of bird or to hear the babies learning their song. Insects are incredibly important to the quality of song. Insects provide protein and other valuable nutrients to baby birds during their development and the quantity of insects available is important. I’ve often wondered how the birds can hear each other when it seems as though they are singing equally as loudly and at the same time. This masking of their song is mitigated by singing louder, at a higher pitch, or more often. They are not usually singing at the same time, although it sounds that way to us, but rather they have figured out how to alternate their songs so they aren’t overlapping. It does no bird any good to be singing at the same time as another. Songs are also changed for birds in open environments such as the country and closed environments such as urban neighborhoods and downtown areas.

Predation is a big concern for most birds. Generally, in a nesting season a songbird will lose a nest or two and its due to predation. Scientists are learning that merely having a predator nearby can change the reproduction of many songbirds; laying eggs and raising babies are high resource activities. Knowing this, it’s amazing that any songbirds reproduce!

Many thanks to Ted Keyel for allowing me to use his fabulous photos for birds I haven’t photographed yet! I will add interesting photos and stories about the bird as they come my way. If you have some fascinating facts about the bird or any suggestions/comments/corrections, please let me know. I would also be happy to add any unique photos you would like to share.

Two websites that I think are fabulous and I have cited them for each bird are Wisconsin Bird Sounds and Cornell’s All About Birds.  Cornell’s site will have info on how to identify birds, photos, videos, song/call recordings, and other types of info related to birds and their habitat.

Blackbird, Red-wingedAgelaius phoeniceus
Blackbird, Yellow-headedXanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Blue gray Gnatcatcher  — Pilioptila caerulea
Blue jay  — Cyanocitta cristata
Bluebird, EasternSialis sialis
Brown creeperCerthia Americana
Cardinal, NorthernCardinalis cardinalis
Catbird , GrayDumetella carolinesis
Cedar waxwingBombycilla cedrorum
Chickadee, Black-cappedParus atricapillus
Cowbird , Brown-headedMolothrus ater
Crane, SandhillGrus Canadensis
Crow, AmericanCorbus brachyrhynchos
DickcisselSpiza Americana
Dove, MourningZenaida macroura
Eagle, BaldHaliaeetus leucocephalus
Finch , PurpleCarpodacus purpureus
Finch, HouseCarpodacus mexicanus
Flicker, Northern (Yellow-shafted or Red-shafted) — Colaptes auratus
Flycatcher, Great CrestedMyiarchus crinitus
Goldfinch, AmericanCarduelis tristis
Goose, Canada – Branta canadensis
Goose, SnowChen caerulescens
Grosbeak , Rose-breastedPheucticus ludovicianus
Harrier, NorthernCircus cyanues
Hawk, Cooper’sAccipiter cooperii
Hawk, Red-tailedButeo jamaicensis
Hawk, Rough-leggedButeo lagopus
Heron, Great BlueArdea herodias
Hummingbird, Ruby-throatedArchilochus colubris
Indigo BuntingPasserina cyanea
Junco , Dark-eyedJunco hyemalis
Kestrel, AmericanFalco sparverius
KilldeerCharadrius vociferous
Kingbird , EasternTyrannus tyrannus
Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos
Meadowlark , EasternSturnella magna
Nighthawk, CommonChordeiles minor
Nuthatch , Red-breastedSitta Canadensis
Nuthatch , White-breastedSitta carolinensis
Oriole , BaltimoreIcterus galbula
Oriole, OrchardIcterus spurius
Owl, BarredStrix varia
Owl, Great HornedBubo virginianus
Pheasant, Ring-neckedPhasianus colchicus
Phoebe, EasternSayornis phoebe
Redpoll, CommonCarduelis flammea
Restart, American – Setophaga ruticilla
Robin , AmericanTurdus migratorius
Sapsucker, Yellow bellied – Sphyrapicus varius
Shrike , NorthernLanius excubitor
Sparrow, FieldSpizella pusilla
Sparrow, American TreeSpizella arborea
Sparrow, ChippingSpizella passerine
Sparrow, Clay-colored – Spizella pallida
Sparrow, HousePasser domesticus
Sparrow, SongMelospiza melodia
Sparrow, Savannah – Passerculus sandwichensis
Sparrow, Tree – Spizella arborea
Sparrow, White-crownedZonotrichia leucophyrs
Starling , EuropeanSturnus vulgaris
Swallow, BarnHirundo rustica
Swallow, TreeTachycineta bicolor
Tanager ¸ScarletPiranga olivacea
Thrasher, BrownToxostoma rufum
Thrush , WoodHylocichla mustelina
Towhee, EasternPipilo erythrophtalmus
Tufted TitmouseBaeolophus bicolor
Turkey, WildMekeagris gallopavo
Vireo, Red-eyedVireo olivaceus
Vireo, Yellow-throatedDendroica dominica
Vireo, Warbling – Vireo gilvus
Vulture, TurkeyCathartes aura
Warbler, Blackburnian – Dendroica fusca
Warbler, Blackpoll — Dendroica striata
Warbler, YellowDendroica petechia
Warbler,  Common YellowthroatGeothylpis trichas
Warbler, Yellow-rumpedDendroica coronate
Wood-pewee, EasternContopus virens
Woodcock, AmericanScolopax minor
Woodpecker, DownyPicoides pubescens
Woodpecker, HairyPicoides villosus
Woodpecker, PileatedDryocopus pileatus
Woodpecker, Red belliedMelanerpes carolinus
Woodpecker, Red-headedMelanerpes erythrocephalus
Wren, HouseTroglodytes aedon