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Terns of Iowa (5 Species)

Terns are some of the most sleek and acrobatic species of birds in the world. They swiftly swoop, hover, and dive through the skies across North America. With many terns having similar looking plumages, they can be difficult to tell apart. Fortunately, with a little knowledge about tern identification and where they are most expected, it becomes easier to tell them apart.

Iowa is home to five species of terns. Here is everything that you need to know about the terns of Iowa.

Black Tern

Black Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region
Identification

In breeding plumage, Black Terns have gray wings with white on the shoulder area. They have an overall black body and head, black bill and legs, and white underside behind the legs. Nonbreeding Black Terns are much paler with a white head and body and just a small patch of black color near the eye.

Range

Black Terns winter in Northern South America and make their migratory journey north in spring when they spread out across most of Mexico and the continental United States. They breed in South-central Canada and the Northern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Black Terns are very acrobatic as they forage for food and catch prey on the fly. They eat small fish and insects, usually by flying low over marshy areas. One interesting thing about Black Terns is that they do not plunge into the water to catch fish like many other tern species do.

Where to Find This Bird

In winter, Black Terns can be found around coastal habitats but in spring and summer, marshes and swamps become the best place to locate this species.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern
Identification

Caspian Terns are extremely large for terns. In fact, they are the largest tern species in the entire world. They are white with gray wings, black legs, and a chunky red bill. Caspian Terns also have a black cap in breeding plumage which fades in nonbreeding plumage and looks more like a black smudge near the eye.

Range

Caspian Terns are extremely widespread in not only North America but the entire world. This species got their name due to the fact that they were common around the Caspian Sea (which they still are to this day). Caspian Terns can be found along the coasts of Australia, Africa, Southern Asia, Europe, and North America.

In North America, Caspian Terns winter in Mexico, Souther California, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and along the Atlantic Coast. They migrate north in spring and nest in parts of Canada, the Western United States, and the Great Lakes.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Caspian Terns primarily feed on fish but will also eat crustaceans and insects. This species feeds in the same way that other terns do; flying above the water to search for food and diving headfirst into the water when they see something they want to catch.

Where to Find this Bird

Caspian Terns frequent ocean coastlines as well as the shores of large inland bodies of water. They are most easy to find during migration when they show up in fairly large numbers along beaches and can be seen and heard flying over the water. In the Midwestern states, the Great Lakes are a fantastic place to find this species.

Common Tern

Common Tern – Photo by Michele Lamberti
Identification

In breeding plumage, Common Terns have a white head and body with gray wings, a black cap, an orange bill with a black tip, and orange legs. An important feature in Common Terns that separates them from the nearly identical Forster’s Tern is the color of the primary feathers in adults. In Common Terns they will be dark gray while in Forster’s Terns they will be light gray to white. Nonbreeding adults will not have a complete black cap but rather a partial cap with the front of the head showing white.

Range

Common Terns winter along the Coasts of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. In spring they move north into Canada and parts of the Northern United States, including the Great Lakes states.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Common Terns eat primarily small fish but will also eat crustaceans and other marine and freshwater invertebrates. They will catch fish from the surface of the water while flying or dive into the water to catch prey.

Where to Find this Bird

Common Terns are birds of coasts and shorelines. They are typically found along large bodies of water such as the oceans and the Great Lakes. They can be seen resting on beaches and sandbars.

Forster’s Tern

Forster’s Tern – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Breeding plumage Forster’s Terns have a white body and white forked tail, orange legs, an orange bill with a black tip, and a black cap going from their neck to their bill. They have light gray wings and light-colored wingtips (which is an import thing to note when differentiating between Forster’s Terns and Common Terns).

Nonbreeding Forster’s Terns look almost the same as in breeding plumage but instead of a full black cap, they have a black streak that covers their eye.

Range

Forster’s Terns winter along the Southern coasts of the United States and Mexico. They migrate north during the spring and breed in Southern Canada, portions of the Western U.S. and specific places along the Great Lakes. Forster’s Terns are year-round residents of Eastern Texas and Southern Louisiana in addition to parts of the Atlantic Coast near North Carolina and Maryland.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Forster’s Terns feed primarily on fish which they catch in a very distinctive manor. These terns will hover above the water, and suddenly plunge themselves below the surface. In addition to fish, they will also eat insects.

Where to Find this Bird

Forster’s Terns can be found in both freshwater and saltwater marshes in addition to coastlines.

Least Tern

Least Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southwest Region
Identification

Least Terns are the smallest of all of the North American Terns. In breeding plumage, they have orangey-yellow legs as well as an orangey-yellow colored bill. One of their more distinctive features is their white forehead contrasting their black cap. Another thig to note is the black edging on the wings of this species. In nonbreeding plumage, they have a much darker colored bill, and their black cap turns into more of a black stripe. Immature birds show this black coloration as a smudge.

Range

Least Terns winter along the northern coasts of South America, around the Carribean Islands, and the southern coasts of Florida. In summer they breed along both coasts of the continental United States and Mexico. Some Least Terns also spend the summer in the central part of the continental United States breeding on or around rivers.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Least Terns are primarily fish-eaters, but they will also feed on other small aquatic creatures such as shrimp, insects, and tadpoles.

Where to Find this Bird

Least terns can be found along the coasts, particularly near beaches and on barrier islands. Inland, these birds tend to gravitate toward sandy rivers, particularly. in and around larger rivers such as the Mississippi.

Summary

Terns are quick and acrobatic birds that can sometimes be difficult to identify since so many of them are similar looking. Knowing the species that are expected in your state can be instrumental in identifying which one you are looking at in the field. Hopefully, this article has helped in answering some questions about the terns of Iowa.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Terns of Illinois (5 Species to Know)

Terns are some of the most sleek and acrobatic species of birds in the world. They swiftly swoop, hover, and dive through the skies across North America. With many terns having similar looking plumages, they can be difficult to tell apart. Fortunately, with a little knowledge about tern identification and where they are most expected, it becomes easier to tell them apart.

Illinois is home to five species of terns. Here is everything that you need to know about the terns of Iowa.

Black Tern

Black Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region
Identification

In breeding plumage, Black Terns have gray wings with white on the shoulder area. They have an overall black body and head, black bill and legs, and white underside behind the legs. Nonbreeding Black Terns are much paler with a white head and body and just a small patch of black color near the eye.

Range

Black Terns winter in Northern South America and make their migratory journey north in spring when they spread out across most of Mexico and the continental United States. They breed in South-central Canada and the Northern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Black Terns are very acrobatic as they forage for food and catch prey on the fly. They eat small fish and insects, usually by flying low over marshy areas. One interesting thing about Black Terns is that they do not plunge into the water to catch fish like many other tern species do.

Where to Find This Bird

In winter, Black Terns can be found around coastal habitats but in spring and summer, marshes and swamps become the best place to locate this species.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern
Identification

Caspian Terns are extremely large for terns. In fact, they are the largest tern species in the entire world. They are white with gray wings, black legs, and a chunky red bill. Caspian Terns also have a black cap in breeding plumage which fades in nonbreeding plumage and looks more like a black smudge near the eye.

Range

Caspian Terns are extremely widespread in not only North America but the entire world. This species got their name due to the fact that they were common around the Caspian Sea (which they still are to this day). Caspian Terns can be found along the coasts of Australia, Africa, Southern Asia, Europe, and North America.

In North America, Caspian Terns winter in Mexico, Souther California, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and along the Atlantic Coast. They migrate north in spring and nest in parts of Canada, the Western United States, and the Great Lakes.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Caspian Terns primarily feed on fish but will also eat crustaceans and insects. This species feeds in the same way that other terns do; flying above the water to search for food and diving headfirst into the water when they see something they want to catch.

Where to Find this Bird

Caspian Terns frequent ocean coastlines as well as the shores of large inland bodies of water. They are most easy to find during migration when they show up in fairly large numbers along beaches and can be seen and heard flying over the water. In the Midwestern states, the Great Lakes are a fantastic place to find this species.

Common Tern

Common Tern – Photo by Michele Lamberti
Identification

In breeding plumage, Common Terns have a white head and body with gray wings, a black cap, an orange bill with a black tip, and orange legs. An important feature in Common Terns that separates them from the nearly identical Forster’s Tern is the color of the primary feathers in adults. In Common Terns they will be dark gray while in Forster’s Terns they will be light gray to white. Nonbreeding adults will not have a complete black cap but rather a partial cap with the front of the head showing white.

Range

Common Terns winter along the Coasts of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. In spring they move north into Canada and parts of the Northern United States, including the Great Lakes states.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Common Terns eat primarily small fish but will also eat crustaceans and other marine and freshwater invertebrates. They will catch fish from the surface of the water while flying or dive into the water to catch prey.

Where to Find this Bird

Common Terns are birds of coasts and shorelines. They are typically found along large bodies of water such as the oceans and the Great Lakes. They can be seen resting on beaches and sandbars.

Forster’s Tern

Forster’s Tern – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Breeding plumage Forster’s Terns have a white body and white forked tail, orange legs, an orange bill with a black tip, and a black cap going from their neck to their bill. They have light gray wings and light-colored wingtips (which is an import thing to note when differentiating between Forster’s Terns and Common Terns).

Nonbreeding Forster’s Terns look almost the same as in breeding plumage but instead of a full black cap, they have a black streak that covers their eye.

Range

Forster’s Terns winter along the Southern coasts of the United States and Mexico. They migrate north during the spring and breed in Southern Canada, portions of the Western U.S. and specific places along the Great Lakes. Forster’s Terns are year-round residents of Eastern Texas and Southern Louisiana in addition to parts of the Atlantic Coast near North Carolina and Maryland.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Forster’s Terns feed primarily on fish which they catch in a very distinctive manor. These terns will hover above the water, and suddenly plunge themselves below the surface. In addition to fish, they will also eat insects.

Where to Find this Bird

Forster’s Terns can be found in both freshwater and saltwater marshes in addition to coastlines.

Least Tern (Uncommon)

Least Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southwest Region
Identification

Least Terns are the smallest of all of the North American Terns. In breeding plumage, they have orangey-yellow legs as well as an orangey-yellow colored bill. One of their more distinctive features is their white forehead contrasting their black cap. Another thig to note is the black edging on the wings of this species. In nonbreeding plumage, they have a much darker colored bill, and their black cap turns into more of a black stripe. Immature birds show this black coloration as a smudge.

Range

Least Terns winter along the northern coasts of South America, around the Carribean Islands, and the southern coasts of Florida. In summer they breed along both coasts of the continental United States and Mexico. Some Least Terns also spend the summer in the central part of the continental United States breeding on or around rivers.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Least Terns are primarily fish-eaters, but they will also feed on other small aquatic creatures such as shrimp, insects, and tadpoles.

Where to Find this Bird

Least terns can be found along the coasts, particularly near beaches and on barrier islands. Inland, these birds tend to gravitate toward sandy rivers, particularly. in and around larger rivers such as the Mississippi.

Summary

Terns are quick and acrobatic birds that can sometimes be difficult to identify since so many of them are similar looking. Knowing the species that are expected in your state can be instrumental in identifying which one you are looking at in the field. Hopefully, this article has helped in answering some questions about the terns of Illinois.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Grouse of Ohio (1 Species to Know)

Grouse are a particular group of game birds that are medium to large in size and are chicken-like in appearance. In North America, grouse have traditionally been hunted as a source of food, but to birders, they are desirable to find because of their unique qualities and beauty. While some grouse species are numerous, they can still prove to be elusive, and it’s always an adventure to try and find them.

In Ohio, there is one species that can be found in the state (the Ruffed Grouse). Here is everything you need to know about this species.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse (Pat Matthews Photo)
Identification

Ruffed Grouse male and females look similar in coloration with some slight differences. Overall, both males and females have a light-colored chest and underside, with dark and light brown barring and speckling. Their backs and wings are shades of brown with some white and darker markings mixed in. Ruffed Grouse have a crest on their head and during the breeding season, males will show black neck feathers as a display in addition to fanning their tails in a similar manor to a peacock.

Range

Ruffed Grouse can be found in the northern forests of North America. Their range encompasses most of Southern and Western Canada up into Alaska. In the United States, Ruffed Grouse live in the Midwest around the Great Lakes, in the Northeast, and some of the states in the Northwest such as Montana and Idaho, among others.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ruffed Grouse eat mostly plant matter with just a small amount of their diet consisting of insects. Typical fare for the Ruffed Grouse is leaves, buds, ferns, grass, acorns, fruits, and twigs of birch and aspen trees.

Where to Find this Bird

Ruffed Grouse can be very difficult to see as they live in dense woodlands and move very deliberately. Some of the best times to see them is during winter when they stand out more than in months when there isn’t snow. Another way to see Ruffed Grouse is by driving forest roads where they can sometimes be seen on the edge of the tree line of walking on the road, or by visiting a lek in the spring.

In researching which species of grouse live in Indiana I was surprised to stumble upon something of a controversy. Most recent reports of Ruffed Grouse in the state are from Yellowwood State Forest where there seemed to be a lot of debate over how many individual bids actually reside in the area. It seems that with enough searching the hardwood forests of Indiana they can be turned up but are very tough to find.

Summary

Grouse can be quite difficult to find, but they are certainly fascinating to see in the wild. If you are able to spot a grouse in Ohio, it will almost certainly be a Ruffed Grouse.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Grouse of Massachusetts (1 Species to Know)

Grouse are a particular group of game birds that are medium to large in size and are chicken-like in appearance. In North America, grouse have traditionally been hunted as a source of food, but to birders, they are desirable to find because of their unique qualities and beauty. While some grouse species are numerous, they can still prove to be elusive, and it’s always an adventure to try and find them.

In Massachusetts there is one species that can be found in the state (the Ruffed Grouse). Here is everything you need to know about this species.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse (Pat Matthews Photo)
Identification

Ruffed Grouse male and females look similar in coloration with some slight differences. Overall, both males and females have a light-colored chest and underside, with dark and light brown barring and speckling. Their backs and wings are shades of brown with some white and darker markings mixed in. Ruffed Grouse have a crest on their head and during the breeding season, males will show black neck feathers as a display in addition to fanning their tails in a similar manor to a peacock.

Range

Ruffed Grouse can be found in the northern forests of North America. Their range encompasses most of Southern and Western Canada up into Alaska. In the United States, Ruffed Grouse live in the Midwest around the Great Lakes, in the Northeast, and some of the states in the Northwest such as Montana and Idaho, among others.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ruffed Grouse eat mostly plant matter with just a small amount of their diet consisting of insects. Typical fare for the Ruffed Grouse is leaves, buds, ferns, grass, acorns, fruits, and twigs of birch and aspen trees.

Where to Find this Bird

Ruffed Grouse can be very difficult to see as they live in dense woodlands and move very deliberately. Some of the best times to see them is during winter when they stand out more than in months when there isn’t snow. Another way to see Ruffed Grouse is by driving forest roads where they can sometimes be seen on the edge of the tree line of walking on the road, or by visiting a lek in the spring.

In researching which species of grouse live in Indiana I was surprised to stumble upon something of a controversy. Most recent reports of Ruffed Grouse in the state are from Yellowwood State Forest where there seemed to be a lot of debate over how many individual bids actually reside in the area. It seems that with enough searching the hardwood forests of Indiana they can be turned up but are very tough to find.

Summary

Grouse can be quite difficult to find, but they are certainly fascinating to see in the wild. If you are able to spot a grouse in Massachusetts, it will almost certainly be a Ruffed Grouse.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Terns of Michigan (5 Species)

Terns are some of the most sleek and acrobatic species of birds in the world. They swiftly swoop, hover, and dive through the skies across North America. With many terns having similar looking plumages, they can be difficult to tell apart. Fortunately, with a little knowledge about tern identification and where they are most expected, it becomes easier to tell them apart.

Michigan is home to four species of terns that are annual and fairly common in the state, in addition to one species that is extremely rare. Here is everything that you need to know about the terns of Michigan.

Arctic Tern (Rare)

Arctic Tern – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Arctic Terns in breeding plumage have a clean white body with gray wings, a dark black cap on the head, a reddish orange bill, and short reddish orange legs. In nonbreeding plumage, the black cap is replaced by a black stripe over the eye and the legs and bill are black as opposed to reddish orange.

Range

Arctic Terns are extreme long-distance migrants spending the summer in Northern Canada, Alaska, and the Northern most parts of Europe. They winter in Antarctica, meaning they fly from pole to pole each migratory season.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Arctic Terns feed mostly on fish but will also eat insects. To catch fish, these birds will hover above the water and plunge in headfirst to try and nab prey just below the surface.

Where to Find this Bird

Arctic Terns are a species that is rare in most parts of the continental United States and can usually only be seen during migration. Look for this species near large bodies of water as they typically migrate offshore. Keep an eye out for a short and stout looking tern amongst Common Terns and Forster’s Terns.

Black Tern

Black Tern – Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region
Identification

In breeding plumage, Black Terns have gray wings with white on the shoulder area. They have an overall black body and head, black bill and legs, and white underside behind the legs. Nonbreeding Black Terns are much paler with a white head and body and just a small patch of black color near the eye.

Range

Black Terns winter in Northern South America and make their migratory journey north in spring when they spread out across most of Mexico and the continental United States. They breed in South-central Canada and the Northern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Black Terns are very acrobatic as they forage for food and catch prey on the fly. They eat small fish and insects, usually by flying low over marshy areas. One interesting thing about Black Terns is that they do not plunge into the water to catch fish like many other tern species do.

Where to Find This Bird

In winter, Black Terns can be found around coastal habitats but in spring and summer, marshes and swamps become the best place to locate this species.

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern
Identification

Caspian Terns are extremely large for terns. In fact, they are the largest tern species in the entire world. They are white with gray wings, black legs, and a chunky red bill. Caspian Terns also have a black cap in breeding plumage which fades in nonbreeding plumage and looks more like a black smudge near the eye.

Range

Caspian Terns are extremely widespread in not only North America but the entire world. This species got their name due to the fact that they were common around the Caspian Sea (which they still are to this day). Caspian Terns can be found along the coasts of Australia, Africa, Southern Asia, Europe, and North America.

In North America, Caspian Terns winter in Mexico, Souther California, the Gulf Coast, Florida, and along the Atlantic Coast. They migrate north in spring and nest in parts of Canada, the Western United States, and the Great Lakes.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Caspian Terns primarily feed on fish but will also eat crustaceans and insects. This species feeds in the same way that other terns do; flying above the water to search for food and diving headfirst into the water when they see something they want to catch.

Where to Find this Bird

Caspian Terns frequent ocean coastlines as well as the shores of large inland bodies of water. They are most easy to find during migration when they show up in fairly large numbers along beaches and can be seen and heard flying over the water. In the Midwestern states, the Great Lakes are a fantastic place to find this species.

Common Tern

Common Tern – Photo by Michele Lamberti
Identification

In breeding plumage, Common Terns have a white head and body with gray wings, a black cap, an orange bill with a black tip, and orange legs. An important feature in Common Terns that separates them from the nearly identical Forster’s Tern is the color of the primary feathers in adults. In Common Terns they will be dark gray while in Forster’s Terns they will be light gray to white. Nonbreeding adults will not have a complete black cap but rather a partial cap with the front of the head showing white.

Range

Common Terns winter along the Coasts of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Gulf of Mexico. In spring they move north into Canada and parts of the Northern United States, including the Great Lakes states.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Common Terns eat primarily small fish but will also eat crustaceans and other marine and freshwater invertebrates. They will catch fish from the surface of the water while flying or dive into the water to catch prey.

Where to Find this Bird

Common Terns are birds of coasts and shorelines. They are typically found along large bodies of water such as the oceans and the Great Lakes. They can be seen resting on beaches and sandbars.

Forster’s Tern

Forster’s Tern – Photo by Bill Grossmeyer
Identification

Breeding plumage Forster’s Terns have a white body and white forked tail, orange legs, an orange bill with a black tip, and a black cap going from their neck to their bill. They have light gray wings and light-colored wingtips (which is an import thing to note when differentiating between Forster’s Terns and Common Terns).

Nonbreeding Forster’s Terns look almost the same as in breeding plumage but instead of a full black cap, they have a black streak that covers their eye.

Range

Forster’s Terns winter along the Southern coasts of the United States and Mexico. They migrate north during the spring and breed in Southern Canada, portions of the Western U.S. and specific places along the Great Lakes. Forster’s Terns are year-round residents of Eastern Texas and Southern Louisiana in addition to parts of the Atlantic Coast near North Carolina and Maryland.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Forster’s Terns feed primarily on fish which they catch in a very distinctive manor. These terns will hover above the water, and suddenly plunge themselves below the surface. In addition to fish, they will also eat insects.

Where to Find this Bird

Forster’s Terns can be found in both freshwater and saltwater marshes in addition to coastlines.

Summary

Terns are quick and acrobatic birds that can sometimes be difficult to identify since so many of them are similar looking. Knowing the species that are expected in your state can be instrumental in identifying which one you are looking at in the field. Hopefully, this article has helped in answering some questions about the terns of Michigan.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

An Open Letter Response to Madison Audubon’s Comments About Our Video

On November 30th, you (Madison Audubon) made a blog post responding to our video about changing your name to “Badgerland Bird Alliance” which we feel is too close to our brand name “Badgerland Birding”. Your response included 5 specific points that you claim to be “misleading” or “false”, but did not address our main argument, which is the confusion and negative impact to our brand (which we’ve been building over the last 7 years) that your name change has caused and will continue to cause.

You have continued to not allow comments on your social media posts after many people expressed their concerns or asked you to change your name, which makes us question how much you actually value feedback, since you continuously squash people’s ability to comment publicly.

Here are each of your 5 claims, and why your response is misleading or just flat out wrong. Your claims are in red, our response is in black.

The assertion that the term “Bird Alliance” is core to your name and that “Badgerland” is common and therefore justifies its use in your name is misleading. We believe the specific combination of “Badgerland Bird” is integral to our identity and brand, which predates your organization’s name change by nearly 7 years. Our objection stems from the confusion and association that already has and will continue to impact our established presence and audience from the use of Badgerland + Bird.

You also claim that “Badgerland” best describes your geographic location (Southern Wisconsin), however Badgerland references the entire state, which is misleading and misrepresents your apparent reach.

For one, we are a Limited Liability COMPANY, not a CORPORATION. There’s a big different between the two. Additionally, the characterization of our work as merely “YouTube, content creation, and birding tours” oversimplifies and is demeaning to our broader impact. We engage with a diverse audience through educational content, community outreach, and active participation in bird conservation. Both our organizations contribute significantly to bird-related initiatives in Wisconsin, and it is misleading to downplay the scope and effectiveness of our work, and what our work will encompass in the future.

We never said “substantial” funds, simply funding. While you assert independence, the affiliation with the National Audubon Society (NAS) raises questions about the potential influence and direction from NAS. The claim that NAS dues contribute only 0.5% of your total funding may downplay the significance of this relationship, which is still very clearly present.

Our concerns about due diligence relate to the lack of distinctiveness between our organizations’ names and the current and future potential for confusion. While you state that legal counsel was consulted, the fundamental issue remains that our established identity and brand are at risk. A more comprehensive assessment of potential confusion in the public domain would have been prudent, or consulting us beforehand. At the very core of the issue, is the lack of respect Madison Audubon seems to have for its fellow bird-related organizations and their established brands, which is saddening.

The acknowledgment of our subscriber count and scope of our reach only reinforces the idea that we would not want our brand infringed upon. Also, characterizing yourself as a small, local conservation nonprofit significant downplays the size of your organization, which based on online tax records, brings in millions of dollars each year, and has at least 10 full-time employees.  Additionally, your unwillingness to cooperate about changing your name is where people are getting the “bullying” from. The fact that your organization is oblivious to what you are doing shows a true lack of respect and understanding of how your actions are being perceived.

We remain committed to open and respectful dialogue to find a resolution that preserves the integrity of both organizations. However, the fact that you are not willing to change your name or address our concerns about the confusion and negative impact to our brand suggests you do not actually want to work together to find a solution, rather just appear you do. Our concerns are rooted in protecting the brand we’ve built over the years and ensuring our audience and your audience can distinguish between the two entities. We welcome continued discussions to reach an amicable resolution, but don’t feel your words are matching your actions.  

Sincerely,

Derek and Ryan Sallmann

Badgerland Birding

Grouse of Minnesota (4 Species to Know)

Grouse are a particular group of game birds that are medium to large in size and are chicken-like in appearance. In North America, Grouse have traditionally been hunted as a source of food, but to birders, they are desirable to find because of their unique qualities and beauty. While some grouse species are numerous, they can still prove to be elusive and it’s always an adventure to try and find them.

In Minnesota, there are four native species of grouse that can be found in the wild. Some of these species are fairly rare and even coveted by birders. Below is the list of all four species, with photos and information about their habits, how to identify them, and where to find them.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse (Pat Matthews Photo)
Identification

Ruffed Grouse male and females look similar in coloration with some slight differences. Overall, both males and females have a light colored chest and underside, with dark and light brown barring and speckling. Their backs and wings are shades of brown with some white and darker markings mixed in. Ruffed Grouse have a crest on their head and during the breeding season, males will show black neck feathers as a display in addition to fanning their tails in a similar manor to a peacock.

Range

Ruffed Grouse can be found in the northern forests of North America. Their range encompasses most of Southern and Western Canada up into Alaska. In the United States, Ruffed Grouse live in the Midwest around the Great Lakes, in the Northeast, and some of the states in the Northwest such as Montana and Idaho, among others.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ruffed Grouse eat mostly plant matter with just a small amount of their diet consisting of insects. Typical fare for the Ruffed Grouse is leaves, buds, ferns, grass, acorns, fruits, and twigs of birch and aspen trees.

Where to Find this Bird

Ruffed Grouse can be very difficult to see as they live in dense woodlands and move very deliberately. Some of the best times to see them is during winter when they stand out more than in months when there isn’t snow. Another way to see Ruffed Grouse is by driving forest roads where they can sometimes be seen on the edge of the tree line of walking on the road, or by visiting a lek in the spring.

In Wisconsin, the north woods of the Nicolet National Forest can be a great place to find Ruffed Grouse. They can be found in many of the wooded counties in the northern part of the state.

Spruce Grouse

Male Spruce Grouse
Female Spruce Grouse (Maurine Whalen Photo)
Spruce Grouse Chick (Jacob W. Frank Photo)
Identification

Male Spruce Grouse have a gray head, brown sides and wings, a black throat, white speckling and striping on their underside as well as white markings on their face. They also have a noticeable bit of bright red above their eye. Females are a mottled gray, brown, and tan with barring on their underside.

Range

Spruce Grouse do not migrate and inhabit most of Canada and Alaska year round. They also live in some parts of the United States including northern Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, Wisconsin, New York, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, and some of the states in the northeast.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Spruce Grouse have a somewhat unique diet eating mostly conifer needles. They typically prefer the younger needles and will forage high up in trees as well as on the ground. Spruce Grouse also eat other plants as well as insects and even fungi.

Where to Find this Bird

Spruce Grouse can be most easily seen when they venture out onto roadsides. They are typically extremely tame around people but can be hard to spot if they are concealed in the understory due to their impressive camouflage.

Greater Prairie Chicken

Male Greater Prairie Chicken (Alan Schmierer Photo)
Female Greater Prairie Chicken (Dave Menke Photo, CC by 2.0)
Identification

Greater Prairie Chickens (also known as Pinnated Grouse) can be identified by their tan and brown barred bodies, small heads, short tails, and light colored throats. Males have golden yellow above their eyes and when mating, puff out yellow-orange throat sacks on their neck. Females look very similar to the males but with less noticeable gold coloration on their face and minimal orange coloration.

Range

The Greater Prairie Chicken once had a range that encompassed most of the Plains states as well as the Great Lakes states. While they do still reside in these areas, their range has condensed to specific areas. Greater Prairie Chickens can still be found in large portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and to a lesser extent in states like Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Greater Prairie Chickens feed on seeds, grains, fruits, and insects. They can be seen foraging in small to large groups in open fields where they can sometimes be very difficult to pick out.

Where to Find this Bird

The easiest time of the year to find Greater Prairie Chickens is in winter when they can be seen foraging in fields where they stand out more clearly against the snow. They can also be seen in early morning, roosting in trees. The other time of year they can be found is during spring when they lek, and males put on displays for females.

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Male Sharp-tailed Grouse (Alan Schmierer Photo)
Female Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tom Koerner Photo)
A Group of Sharp-tailed Grouse Roosting in a Tree (Dan Svingen Photo)
Identification

Sharp-tailed Grouse have lighter undersides with brown and tan speckling. They have more brown and tan coloration on their wings, back, and head, with white mixed in making up an intricate pattern. Males have yellow-orange above their eye and show purple throat sacks while performing their mating display. Females have a similar look to the male but with less color near the face. Sharp-tailed Grouse get their name from their pointy looking tail which is very triangular looking due to the center tail feathers being the longest. They will often times hold these unique tails up in the air making them even more noticeable.

Range

Sharp-tailed Grouse can be found in different parts of Northwestern North America. They are nonmigratory and live year round in much of Alaska, Central and Southern Canada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Sharp-tailed Grouse also live in some of the Great Lakes States as well as other Great Plains states in smaller numbers.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Sharp-tailed Grouse eat a wide variety of food items, most of which are plants. This species partakes in grains, seeds, grasses, buds and fruits. When available, Sharp-tailed Grouse will also eat insects. Foraging is typically done on the ground but these birds will also feed in trees. While feeding, Sharp-tailed Grouse are reminiscent of chickens as they walk around and peck.

Where to Find this Bird

Sharp-tailed Grouse live in a variety of habitats from Boreal woods to pine barrens. The easiest way to find this species is to search out an area where they lek during the spring, where they are quite noticeable and boisterous.

Summary

Grouse can be quite difficult to find, but they are certainly fascinating to see in the wild. Minnesota has a nice variety of grouse species to find, and we hope that this article helped shed some light on how to find and ID them.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

How Did WILD Flamingos End Up in Wisconsin?

One of the most exciting moments in birding, is hearing news that a rare bird is nearby, and being able to try and see it. This was the case, when news broke that American Flamingos had made their way to Wisconsin, which was improbable, but not impossible. Earlier in the year, hurricane Idalia had pushed American Flamingos into the United States from further south, and they had been seen in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Louisiana, and more. Although it was a possibility that they could show up in the badger state, it didn’t seem likely based on how far northwest Wisconsin is, until it actually happened. The Flamingos had been spotted on the coast of Lake Michigan in a town called Port Washington, which is just north of Milwaukee.

American Flamingo Range Map

I started the drive to Port Washington, and picked up my friend Nathaniel along the way. As we got closer we counted down the minutes until we would have a chance of seeing wild flamingos on Lake Michigan. 

We arrived to a busy parking lot, and an array of birders and non-birders taking in the strange sight of these unique birds. As we laid eyes on them it almost seemed unbelievable. With so many people, it felt like one of the festivals the Lake Michigan coast is known for, but this time not Summerfest, rather Flamingo Fest.

The 5 Wisconsin Flamingos

Adult American Flamingos are pink in color with black wingtips, a distinctive downturned bill, a long neck, and long legs. Flamingos are born gray and white, and only get their pink coloration from their diet of algae, shrimp, and other small crustaceans, after about 2 years. Adults are around 5 feet tall and Flamingos are normally seen in groups. Their native range extends from the Caribbean to northern South America, and they are often seen wading in the shallow waters of saltwater or brackish coasts. When feeding they will drop their head into the water and sway it from side to side, pumping water in and out of their bill to filter out food. This action may be accompanied by foot stomping, in order to bring more food to the surface. In the Wisconsin group, there were two younger birds still showing their gray color, which was quite a contrast in comparison to the pink adult birds. 

A Young American Flamingo Displaying Gray Coloration

In-between capturing photos and videos and appreciating this incredible site, we also caught up with some of our other friends who had also made the trip to see the birds. The crowd continued to grow and many of the local news outlets also showed up to cover the story. 

My Video About Seeing Wild Flamingos In Wisconsin

Eventually, after watching the Flamingos for about 2 and 1/2 hours, and talking to multiple news outlets, we decided to head out, feeling really excited about seeing the Flamingos in Port Washington. 

Close-up of an American Flamingo

Later in the day, it was reported that the Flamingos eventually flew south, but a number of days later they were re-found at Petenwell Lake in Wisconsin. As the weather cools, it is hoped that their instincts will kick in and they will fly south, hopefully to a warmer climate with an abundance of food. As of now, they seem to be in good health and are finding enough to eat. If they do not leave as winter approaches, an attempt will likely be made to catch and relocate them. The appearance of these birds has made a huge impact on the birding and non-birding community, and hopefully seeing them will inspire more people to learn about birds and bird conservation. Where do you think Flamingos will show up next? Let us know in the comments below!

Grouse of Indiana (1 Species to Know)

Grouse are a particular group of game birds that are medium to large in size and are chicken-like in appearance. In North America, grouse have traditionally been hunted as a source of food, but to birders, they are desirable to find because of their unique qualities and beauty. While some grouse species are numerous, they can still prove to be elusive, and it’s always an adventure to try and find them.

In Indiana there is one species that can be found in the state (the Ruffed Gouse), but it is extremely rare and difficult to find. Here is everything you need to know about this species.

Ruffed Grouse (Rare)

Ruffed Grouse (Pat Matthews Photo)
Identification

Ruffed Grouse male and females look similar in coloration with some slight differences. Overall, both males and females have a light colored chest and underside, with dark and light brown barring and speckling. Their backs and wings are shades of brown with some white and darker markings mixed in. Ruffed Grouse have a crest on their head and during the breeding season, males will show black neck feathers as a display in addition to fanning their tails in a similar manor to a peacock.

Range

Ruffed Grouse can be found in the northern forests of North America. Their range encompasses most of Southern and Western Canada up into Alaska. In the United States, Ruffed Grouse live in the Midwest around the Great Lakes, in the Northeast, and some of the states in the Northwest such as Montana and Idaho, among others.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ruffed Grouse eat mostly plant matter with just a small amount of their diet consisting of insects. Typical fare for the Ruffed Grouse is leaves, buds, ferns, grass, acorns, fruits, and twigs of birch and aspen trees.

Where to Find this Bird

Ruffed Grouse can be very difficult to see as they live in dense woodlands and move very deliberately. Some of the best times to see them is during winter when they stand out more than in months when there isn’t snow. Another way to see Ruffed Grouse is by driving forest roads where they can sometimes be seen on the edge of the tree line of walking on the road, or by visiting a lek in the spring.

In researching which species of grouse live in Indiana I was surprised to stumble upon something of a controversy. Most recent reports of Ruffed Grouse in the state are from Yellowwood State Forest where there seemed to be a lot of debate over how many individual bids actually reside in the area. It seems that with enough searching the hardwood forests of Indiana they can be turned up but are very tough to find.

Summary

Grouse can be quite difficult to find, but they are certainly fascinating to see in the wild. If you are able to spot a grouse in Indiana, it will almost certainly be a Ruffed Grouse.

If you enjoyed this post please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.

Grouse of West Virginia (1 Species to Know)

Grouse are a particular group of game birds that are medium to large in size and are chicken-like in appearance. In North America, grouse have traditionally been hunted as a source of food, but to birders, they are desirable to find because of their unique qualities and beauty. While some grouse species are numerous, they can still prove to be elusive, and it’s always an adventure to try and find them.

In West Virginia there is one species that can be found in the state (the Ruffed Gouse). Here is everything you need to know about this species.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse (Pat Matthews Photo)
Identification

Ruffed Grouse male and females look similar in coloration with some slight differences. Overall, both males and females have a light colored chest and underside, with dark and light brown barring and speckling. Their backs and wings are shades of brown with some white and darker markings mixed in. Ruffed Grouse have a crest on their head and during the breeding season, males will show black neck feathers as a display in addition to fanning their tails in a similar manor to a peacock.

Range

Ruffed Grouse can be found in the northern forests of North America. Their range encompasses most of Southern and Western Canada up into Alaska. In the United States, Ruffed Grouse live in the Midwest around the Great Lakes, in the Northeast, and some of the states in the Northwest such as Montana and Idaho, among others.

Diet and Foraging Behavior

Ruffed Grouse eat mostly plant matter with just a small amount of their diet consisting of insects. Typical fare for the Ruffed Grouse is leaves, buds, ferns, grass, acorns, fruits, and twigs of birch and aspen trees.

Where to Find this Bird

Ruffed Grouse can be very difficult to see as they live in dense woodlands and move very deliberately. Some of the best times to see them is during winter when they stand out more than in months when there isn’t snow. Another way to see Ruffed Grouse is by driving forest roads where they can sometimes be seen on the edge of the tree line of walking on the road, or by visiting a lek in the spring.

In researching which species of grouse live in Indiana I was surprised to stumble upon something of a controversy. Most recent reports of Ruffed Grouse in the state are from Yellowwood State Forest where there seemed to be a lot of debate over how many individual bids actually reside in the area. It seems that with enough searching the hardwood forests of Indiana they can be turned up but are very tough to find.

Summary

Grouse can be quite difficult to find, but they are certainly fascinating to see in the wild. If you are able to spot a grouse in West Virginia, it will almost certainly be a Ruffed Grouse.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding YouTube Channel.