Derek and I went out to the Kettle Moraine State Forest to see if we could find any interesting birds. We made it out there at around six pm and started walking the ski trail near Mackey Picnic Area.
The forest was incredibly quiet. The only birds that we heard or saw were American Goldfinches, Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Black-Capped Chickadees, and a single Blue Jay.
After having little success at that location we went to the field closest to the Ottawa Lake Campgrounds in search of sparrows and other grassland birds. We immediately heard the quirky song of a Brown Thrasher singing in a nearby tree as well as an Eastern Towhee in the distance. Several Field Sparrows were also in the area and occasionally perched up in the snags.
While walking one of the paths in the field, we came across the best bird of the day: A Northern Bobwhite. Neither of us had ever seen a Bobwhite in the wild and we were extremely excited to see it foraging in the short grasses.
Most Bobwhites found in the state are part of populations that were released or escaped captivity. In fact, some people estimate that there are no Bobwhites left in Wisconsin that are not related to a bird that was at some point captive.
After watching the Bobwhite for about five minutes we continued walking the field. All of the sudden, Eastern Meadowlark calls started coming from seemingly every direction. We were finally able to get a visual on two birds chasing each other around and landing in the larger trees. Also in the area were a Palm Warbler and a Chipping Sparrow.
Although we didn’t find a very high number of species, any day you find a life bird is a pretty solid day!