Late February 2022 Highlights

(Written February 28, 2022)

The last half of February began delightfully with the viewing on the 16th of a cuddly-seeming Eastern Screech-Owl peering from the kestrel box of a local birder. I learned that a screech-owl, maybe the same one, has been using this box as a winter roost spot for a number of years.

The next day I wandered around areas of Marathon County south and east of Wausau, seeing Horned Larks and Snow Buntings, a perched Merlin, and the previously reported Belted Kingfisher fishing in a small area of open water on the Plover River.

On the 18th I made an unsuccessful attempt to see a reported Slaty-backed Gull in Mayville, some 150 miles south of Wausau. Since I was in the area, I went over to Sheboygan to see if perhaps the gull had wandered over there. There were no remarkable gulls there, but I was happy to see an American Black Duck in with the Mallards, and a little flock of White-winged Crossbills.

Back at home, the Varied Thrush was there again on the 19th (and also later in the month on the 25th), valiantly working to get a few of the remaining fruits on our neighbor’s tree. I find it remarkable that this bird has been coming so infrequently but regularly to this same tree for over a month.

On the 20th, I went to Milwaukee to try to see the reported Ross’s Goose, but arrived a couple of hours after anyone reported it. I spent the afternoon of that day and the next day not seeing the goose, but was able to see my first Long-tailed Ducks for the year (and for the state, I believe).

The final exciting bird of the month was today’s Carolina Wren in Wausau. I learned about it two days ago, and spend almost an hour then, another half hour yesterday, and about two hours today in the neighborhood where it had been reported before finally seeing it late this morning on my second visit there today. I had heard it on my first visit there early this morning, but gave up without seeing it and wandered off to bird elsewhere. While I had not seen one in the county before today, I learned when talking to other local birders who have lived here longer than I have that there are numerous instances when these wrens have been seen here in previous years.

Leaving birds for moment and going to mammals, a couple of days this month an opossum came to an area in our back yard where I throw birdseed on the ground under two of our feeders. It came in the late afternoon, allowing photographs, but the raccoon that also was new for us in our yard came much later, when it was too dark. We regularly have deer, up to 10 of them a few evenings, also coming to munch birdseed under the feeders. It’s not looking too good for my gardening plans for the summer.

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