Another day of unseasonably cold, wet weather in west-central Wisconsin. Temps in the mid-30s, with snow and wind. Welcome to May, 2011.
I drove up through the Lower Chippewa River bottoms to see how the Yellow-rumped Warblers and other spring migrants were doing.
|Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Shoulder of SR 25|
Flocks of warblers concentrated together and behaved like sparrows. They hugged the roadsides and flit around in prairie grasses and the still un-planted farm fields.
|A Hovering Yellow-rumped Warbler|
They were all over the vernal ponds, hovering like petrels, literally walking on the surface of the water.
|Palm Warbler Hunting Insects Along the Lower Chippewa|
The Yellow-rumps were not alone. Our first-of-the-year Palm Warblers hung out with them, bobbing their tails as they foraged along the edges of the roads and water.
|Spotted Sandpiper along the Lower Chippewa|
A Spotted Sandpiper flew in, perched on a limb over the river near Meridean, bobbed its tail for a minute or two - and flew off.
I used to think the biggest challenge these early birds faced - when they're caught up in unseasonable weather - was finding food. After driving around on paved roads for most of the day, I discovered how vulnerable they are when they forage on the ground near roads.
|Yellow-rumped Warbler Roadkill|
On the way home, I spotted dozens of little piles of yellow, white and gray feathers on the road.