Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Duck Hunt

Ring-necked Pheasant
I was so excited to take Gordon to one of my favorite places to bird in Green Bay.  PLUS! We were officially going birding during the summer here.  Something I had never done before.  We went on an overcast day to the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.  It turned out to be a great outing full of amazing birds! A lot of wild birds call this park their home because it's full of great habitat!

Great Crested Flycatcher
Gordon needed the American Black Duck on his lifelist.  From my experiences with these ducks in various states, they can be difficult for photos. I've been in many areas where they are swimming a mile away from shore.  Sometimes they are behind the reeds and difficult to see.  But at Bay Beach, they come right up to you!  I was excited to add data to the lacking information at this site about these ducks for the month of June. 

At Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, the ABDU walk up SO close to people because people love feeding the ducks...and geese...and swans?!?! They sell bags for a dollar at the desk:) I checked records on this duck and there weren't any for this spot during the month of June!  So it was a gamble. This could be a disappointment or a fun find for Gordon. It was a lifebird and that was our goal. For me, I was just super thrilled to bird the area again.  During the winter, many of the waterfowl come to hang out along the river shore near the rehabilitation center. It's quite a show!

Tree Swallow
We started off with some amazing birds all around us.  If you are a birder, you should definitely give this place a look.  If you're not a birder, you should still go and take the family.  It's a large preserve funded by the city of Green Bay.  It's also free to visit!  How sweet is that?  Your kids are going to love it!

There were so many birds calling and we were still trying to figure out the various calls.  It was after all, a whole new group of bird song we had to learn!  

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
I let out a sigh of relief when we found 3 of the ducks still hanging around the area.  Granted, they aren't in large number during the summer because they are breeding in the lake, but I knew there had to be some hanging out.  Thank the bird gods!  Once the target bird was found with excellent observations, it was time to just have fun and bird.  The American Black Duck is a bird species showing a decline in numbers due to hybridization with Mallards.

American Black Duck
I nearly crapped my pants when I surveyed the area and discovered SWANS in the area!  At first I clumped them all together and called them Tundra Swans. Gordon takes a closer look and discovers a Trumpeter mixed in for the fun!!!  They are rare for this area during the summer months, but a few remember this place as home and have stayed around the grounds where there is plenty of food and hospitality:) Most of the Tundra swans are breeding in Canada and Alaska while the Trumpeter Swans have a more diverse range.  

Hey, what species are you?  You look like me, but something is not quite right. 

Okay.  Ready for your bird lesson?  I've put both similar looking swans together. There are two noticeable differences with these birds.  Can you see what they are?

Tundra Swan
Now look carefully.  Hint.  The field marks are with the bill. 

Trumpeter Swan
Did you figure it out?  Or did you give up and just feed the swans instead?:)  The yellow lore(near the eye) is a great field mark for the Tundra Swan.  It's not always clear due to the distance so sometimes we have to look at the bill(which is the second field mark), the way the bird flies or more importantly, listen for their distinct calls. 

Another bird of interest for me was the Purple Martin. There are several pairs here that nest.  In the photo below, you'll notice House Sparrows taking over the nest boxes.  I apologize to my European readers for what I am about to write.  These aggressive sparrows are a nuisance and have taken over much of the Martin space.  Native vs Non-Native species.  In some cases, House Sparrows and European Starlings are "removed" from the area so that the native birds can nest.  These Purple Martins seem to be "tolerating" their neighbors for the moment.

House Sparrows and Purple Martins
A beautiful songbird that comes to the feeders in the eastern half of the US is the American Goldfinch.  It's a stunner with that brilliant yellow coloring.  I had to laugh while entering the data.  First off, most of the eastern birds either have the words "Eastern" or "American" in front of them. They were like foreign words to me while I was jotting down the info.  Arizona bird lingo would pop up and eventually I'd just cut to the word...Goldfinch!  Or Towhee! Or Duck! 

American Goldfinch

Here is a link to the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and our June checklist from this location.  Until next time!


  1. beautiful post. Would very much like to see the Thundra swan for myself. In Sweden we have only the Mute and the Whooper swan.

    1. Now.....I would LOVE to see a Whooper Swan:)

  2. Great post and photos Chris - love the frog and pheasant! :) Interesting to read about House Sparrows (were they introduced from Europe?). We still get them in the garden but they are in decline over here. Love the swans too :)

    1. The House Sparrow was introduced by settlers years ago. The bird has definitely spread over North America. Wherever humans are; so are they:)

  3. Oh Chris, that is an amazing birding place and I would love it so much -- it is obviously friendly to old people casual birders like me -- I probably wouldn't find as many as you did, but I'm sure I'd at least see some -- Oh for a magic carpet.. I'd love a visit there. 9And i'd feed the swans, both kinds. But I easily saw the difference even before your explanation. Now if only I can remember it in real life!@

    1. It's great for everyone. I love easy birding. It's VERY birdy Sallie! You'd love it. I hear you on remembering things.....I have the same issues:) People like to call me scatter brained:) Hey! There's a lot of stuff to remember:) Hope you've had a great start to your week and thanks for dropping by to leave a comment!

  4. I left a comment the other day on this post and was just wondering where it has gone?

    1. You did?!:( I never read it or I would have posted it, really:) Thanks for reading and checking up on the comment section. I'm not sure what happened.

  5. Lots of lovely looking birds. I like the comparison between the swans.

  6. Great photos, Chris! Just LOVE the pheasant shot. So glad you found the Black Duck! And wow...those swans are hard to tell apart, but I was glad to learn about them! Thanks for IDing my birds on my post. Yes, it was one spring at Reid Park at least two or three years ago!


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