Blues News and Early Bird Sightings


If you have noticed anything interesting or unusual, we can post it here.  The most recent sightings are listed first.  Email at: with your bird sighting reports.  Thanks to all who send in reports to us.

Here are reports in 2017:

March 4:  Jo McWilliams from Calamine writes: My daughter, in Verona, told me that a few days ago she had a whole tree full of cedar waxwings and had also spotted a robin in her yard.  A month ago we had a ruffed grouse hanging around our home and eating under the bird feeder. He was here for several days. It was the first one we had ever seen in this area. Tom has made me 3 new bluebird houses so we are anxious for our little friends to return.

 March 4:  Melissa Zink:  At least two weeks ago, we had a male bluebird who was attacking his reflection in our sunroom windows.  I was concerned that he would hurt himself but didn’t know what to do to protect him.  He kept at this most of the morning.  Now we haven’t seen him again.  Is there anything we could do in this situation?  I was hoping he would be interested in our bird houses but he just wanted to fight his reflection.

March 3:  Ken Vlasak in Blancharville writes: We had bluebirds here this a.m. checking out our two boxes.

March 2:  Colleen Schultz sent news of this event: The Madison Audubon Society is offering an Owl Prowl March 9 & 11, 6:30- 9 p.m. at Picnic Point in Madison

Feb 28:  Mike Smith from Mineral Point sent this:  I have started seeing robins again, along with male red winged black birds.  Saw this piebald robin in a friend’s yard in Mineral Point today. 

Feb 28:  Peg Rasch from Argyle reports:  I just looked out the window and saw a flock of robins.  Is this unusual?   It is a nice sight — spring is coming or it is here.  (Peg saw bluebirds on March 1, too).

Feb 18:
  Linda Augustine from Argyle sent this in response to the email I sent on Feb 17: This is such exciting news, Carol.  I wrote to my friend Linda on the north side of Rockford today to tell her about these sightings. She and her
husband decided to reinstall their simple box this morning and they have bluebirds there this afternoon. 

Feb 18:  Lori Neumann from Darlington had a bird at her feeder that she didn’t recognize.  It was a Brown-headed Cowbird. 

Feb 9: Dave Keller from Janesville Wi.  I saw my first Bluebird of this year yesterday by Hanover Wi. Hanover is about 7 miles south west of Janesville,, I have been busy cleaning out the Bluebird boxes getting ready for spring,,,also cleaning out the Wood duck houses,,, hope this year is as good as last year for the Blues and also the Woody’s.

Feb 8: Tom Roberts:  We have seen 2 of your bluebirds.  One about 10 days ago and two days ago.  Are they likely to stay or will they wise up and get out when the weather changes again?  Hope all is well by you.  3 miles east of Wiota on CTH N

Feb 8:  from Mike Smith:  I saw a couple along County H, between Ridgeway and Hyde on Sunday afternoon!

Feb 8:  I heard blue birds on Monday,  but did not see them. This was at my home near Blanchardville. Also on the same day I seen the kestrel near our kestrel box, which hosts a pair each year.  Steve’s seen a couple bluebirds just west of Dodgeville on Monday too.  From: April  Prussia


Feb 8:  I was down looking for Golden Eagles south of Muscoda on Sunday & we saw a flock of 14 BBs on Hwy G. We saw 1 Golden soaring & lots of Bald Eagles in SW Wis. From:  Pat Ready

Feb 7:  Hi mom, saw 5 male bluebirds today in Highland Park !!!

04/10/2016:  Tammy Pettijohn from Elkhorn sent this: This isn’t very clear, but we had a nesting pair of wood ducks at our bluebird house this rainy spring morning.  Wood ducks

04/09/2016:  Linda Augustine from Argyle  has her first bluebird egg for this season.  See the photo she took on the home page of this web site.

first bluebird egg

03/01/2016:  Jim Hess from Blanchardville: We have had some bluebirds around our property all winter, but I heard them singing for the first time a couple of days ago.

03/01/2016:  April Prussia from Cider Farm Orchard between Blanchardville and Hollandale reports:  I saw one (bluebird) yesterday!  At the Cider Farm, while pruning.  Fun to hear the bird first and then see the blue flyby.

02/29/2016:  Linda Augustine reports from rural Argyle, WI:  Just spotted a pair of bluebirds.  (Our first report for this year!)  Linda took this photo.

First Eastern Bluebird in 2016

First Eastern Bluebird in 2016

02/29/2016:  Carol McDaniel reports seeing two Sandhill Cranes near Darlington.  She has been seeing eagles along the Pecatonica River north of Darlington most of the winter.  And a pair are nesting south of Darlington.

01/31/2016: Connie Murphy reports:  I live in Southern California, city of Hemet. We have been seeing huge amounts of Indigo Buntings this month. We have never seen them here before. It has been cold here this past month, and today it is very windy and raining. The birds are active and singing, even in this bad weather. We were wondering if the bad weather across the nation has driven them here.

02/03/2016:  Sue Cashman comments on the robins:  Have you seen any of the many American Robins that are in the area? The southern half of Wisconsin is loaded with them. If you have flowering crabs, you probably have robins. Why? An expert I know says that it is because of the mild winter. Robins are hearty birds. If they migrated, they didn’t go very far. Enjoy this sign of spring, even if spring won’t be here for a while.

 01/29/2016: Carol Barnard from Darlington reports:  For a week now we have had a flock of robins (40 or so) in a berry tree they always come to in the spring. We thought it meant early spring, my brother wondered if they didn’t leave because of the warm weather we have had. We have never seen a white robin before.  That was very cool !!!

01/29/2016:  Phyllis Sonsalla from Darlington reports:  John has seen quite a few (or probably the same ones) robins down at the pond in Darlington.

01/29/2016: WEKZ Darlington News program host, Kent McConnell reported on his program that he has seen several robins in Darlington.

01/29/2016:  Nicola Maurer from Gratiot reports: I thought someone at this email address might be interested in these photos taken on Sunday of a white robin which has been hanging arou nd our front yard this week in Gratiot township. white robin 2

01/29/2016:  Mike Gallagher from Darlington reports: Thought you might like this picture also. I think it was taken in late November in our back yard.  Funny it was Thanksgiving Time! I think there was somewhere around 40.  There are about 30 just in this picture.  The most we ever counted was 67 a couple years ago. Turkey flock by Mike Gallagher

10/02/2015:  The bluebird trails in Lafayette County have produced 844 bluebirds this year!  Great work by the 21 monitors who report each week to me during the nesting season.  There will be more bluebirds coming back next spring, so get some next boxes ready for them!

7/25/2015:  The bluebird trails in Lafayette County have produced over 500 bluebirds so far.  Email your trail results to our email by September 15 to be included in the count.  Use the subject heading of: Trail Count Report

5/29/2015:  Bruce Folley reports from the Yellowstone Lake Wildlife Area, Blanchardville: The bob-o-links are on nesting territories on the ridge tops at Yellowstone. The best is up on the ridge behind the yellow house on F. Probably a ½ mile walk.

5/28/2015:  Paul Elgin reports:  I have been seeing a few Red headed Woodpeckers around the Calamine area.

5/18/2015:  Stephanie Eastwood reports: A week ago there were 5 common nighthawks swooping over Wiegel’s dairy farm fields along Philippine Rd near Woodford.  The only flying insects down near the ground where we were were tiny midges.   I hadn’t seen any nighthawks around here in the 8 springs I’ve lived here.  One year I even did the nightjar survey and…nada. They may have just been migrating through.

5/5: Sue Cashman, Darlington, has had two White Crowned Sparrows and a Baltimore Oriole at her feeder this week. She has also had a Brown headed Cowbird at the feeder for the first time.

5/04:  Jim Hess from Blanchardville reports:  Saw an oriole yesterday at Yellowstone Golf Course, and put out some fresh oranges when we finished playing golf.  Saw a grosbeak this morning at our feeder.  No hummingbirds yet.

4/28:   Linda Augustine/Argyle:  I just saw my first 2015 Rose-Breasted Grosbeak at the feeder today.

4/28:  Carol McDaniel/Darlington:  I saw my first Baltimore Oriole at the Yellowstone Lake State Park feeding station.

April 27:  Sarah Wolters from Darlington reports: I just wanted to let you know I’ve got my first male grosbeak of the season at my feeder this afternoon!!

April 12:  Tam Bagby from Rockford Michigan (near Grand Rapids) reports: I have 2 males checking out my nesting boxes this morning!

April 5:  Velma Klenke checked her Darlington bluebird trail and saw bluebirds looking over the boxes.

April 5:   Carol McDaniel was entertained by a pair of bluebirds in her backyard singing heartily and flying from one nest box to the other.

March 19:  Carol McDaniel reports sighting a Red-winged Blackbird.  “The birds are returning slowly this year.”

March 14: Carol Kranz reports: I haven’t seen any bluebirds yet, but I’m sure I heard some yesterday.  Saw two robins in my backyard yesterday also and saw sand hill cranes today, calling from their favorite nesting spot in our bottom land.  Exciting spring harbingers!

March 13:  Sue Cashman from Darlington reports seeing a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds.

March 13:  Ken Vlasak from Blanchardville saw his first bluebird.                      March 4:  Carla Glass from Mansfield, Ohio saw her first bluebird today! Yeah Carla!                                                                                                                                                                                                March 1:Pat Miller from Mentor, Ohio is anxiously awaiting her first bluebirds.  She wonders if any one has seen any yet.

February 12:  Hatch Barth saw a few bluebirds flying around his boxes on Buncombe Rd near Benton, WI. 

2014 sightings:

November 16:  Jim Kostohrys reports a Pileated Woodpecker at his property three miles north of Darlington.  The bird was calling loudly.

April 29:  The Purple Martins have returned to Louis Lancaster’s gourd setup in Argyle.

Apr 28 at 11:23 AM Linda Augustine took eight photos of a Pileated Woodpecker in rural Argyle. She says, “The bird was just too quick for me. But these two captured the moment.” (one is shown here)

Pileated Woodpecker-1 Augustine

4/26/2014 Richard Dunn reports: “A friend and I spotted a great grey owl resting on the lid for the recycling dumpster at our apartment complex in the town of Menasha. Unfortunately, the sound of my opening car door scared it away before I could get into the house to get my camera. Man, it was a big bird, too. Easily two feet tall. ”

04/08/2014:  Amy Wedig reports: “I saw 2 bluebirds at the state park in Belmont on Friday. My first time seeing them. “

04/08/2014:  Ken Vlasak reports: “Just to let you know that we have a pair of bluebirds already quite a way into their nest building. Also sparrows again taking over the other birdhouse. Will have to put my trap in.”

03/31/2014:  Carol McDaniel reports: “I checked the bluebird trail at Yellowstone Lake State Park.  One bluebird was sighted, but no nest building.  The boxes are in good shape.  I saw one Mourning Cloak butterfly.”

03/16/2014:  The Sandhill Cranes have returned to Yellowstone Lake State Park.

03/16/2014: Bob Tamm from Waukesha county took this photo of a bluebird in his backyard. Bluebird by Bob Tamm03/12/2014:  Linda Augustine reports robins and Sandhill Cranes  on her property in rural Argyle.

03/12/2014:  Barb Smith from Argyle heard Sandhill Cranes in her area.

03/11/2014: Mark from Argyle reports hearing Sandhill Cranes.

3/ 10/2014:  John Arthur at Yellowstone Lake says the staff there were witnessing a pair of Eastern Bluebirds busily building a nest in the box by the office.

02/25/2014: Dorothy George sends this:  On February 22, 2014 in Belmont, Michigan (a few miles north of Grand Rapids) an Eastern Bluebird perched on our deck railing for about 5 minutes!  Plain as day!

02/24/2014:  Pat Ready has this to share: Yes it is too early for nesting songbirds but I do have a hen sitting on eggs near my home.  She laid eggs about 3 weeks ago I believe.  I’ve been checking on her weekly but have not looked in the nest for an egg count.  When you see the pic (attached) of her you’ll know why! Woo hoo hoo!

Owl nesting by Pat Ready

02/24/2014:  Bill Leitzen, Gratiot, WI reports about 12 Robins in his crab apple tree near his house.

02/24/2014:  Brandy Tanner from Toledo, Ohio reports: At least 4 Eastern Bluebirds at Wildwood Metropark in Toledo, Ohio on today, February 24th.  How unusual!

02/20/2014:  Bob Laeser from Argyle reports: Saw a flock of bluebirds today on Apple Grove Church Road,  Were more than I could count.

02/20/2014:  DNR Officer John Arthur reports from Yellowstone Lake State Park:   Lisa Braley, one of our office staff, saw two bluebirds at the nest box at the office this morning!  And she saw a lone robin.  Spring is just around the corner!

02/20/2014:  Gay Hinderman reports:  Dr. Wil Schuler spotted 3 bluebirds on Buncombe Road near the Bill Curran farm. They were sitting on a nearby barbed wire fence.  It was on 2/19/14 at about 5:30 p.m. Makes us yearn for Spring even more.

02/19/2014:  Sue Cashman reports seeing a Northern Harrier near Darlington.

02/14/2014:  Judy Corbin from Danville, IL emailed to say that she saw a bluebird.  Yeah!

02/07/2014:  Linda Augustine, Argyle, took this photo of the Red-headed Woodpecker that has been visiting her feeder.  Great photo, Linda!

Red-Headed Woodpecker-Linda Augustine

2/3/14…Sue Cashman reports that a very trustworthy fellow who does not want his name mentioned saw a robin this past weekend (Feb. 1,2) He said that he had other witnesses, wonders if it might have been here all winter.

02/02/2014: Snowy Owls are begin sighted all around Wisconsin this year.  Their food source is limited up north, so they have come south.  Amy Wedig, Seymour Township, Lafayette County,  is lucky enough to have a Snowy Owl in her area.  She took this photo . Snowy Owl by Amy Wedig02/02/2014:  Carol and John McDaniel traveled along St. Peter’s Road and spotted a juvenile Snowy Owl between Prairie Road and Pleasant View Road.  The owl was perched on the field fence low to the ground.  We watched it for several minutes flying over the fields.Feb 02 2014 018

02/02/2014:  Pat Ready from Dane County wants us to know:  I was up to the Buena Vista Grasslands today looking for the Gyrfalcon reported there. Came upon this Snowy Owl sitting on the top of a pine tree.  Also had Raven, N. shrike, Prairie Chickens (140), Rough-legged Hawk, turkey’s, Horned Larks, Bald Eagle, And over 30 Red-tail hawks along the Hwys. ( Don’t we all wish we could take photos like this one? Carol)

Snowy Owl by Pat Ready

Snowy Owl by Pat Ready

02/02/2014:  Not a Lafayette County sighting, but interesting to read: Kent Hall from Steven Point reports: One Audubon group saw 5  different snowies one morning in January–on  the Wisconsin tundra  (Buena Vista Grasslands).

02/02/2014:  John Arthur, Yellowstone Lake Park Superintendent, reports: I have seen a snowy owl on County S on two different occasions within the last 2 weeks on my way to and from work.

02/01/2014:  Linda Augustine, Argyle, reports a Red-headed Woodpecker at her feeder.

02/01/2014:  Any Wedig sent the following email and photo:  This snow owl lives on St Peters Rd in Seymour Township. I am lucky enough to see it once in a while on my way to work!

Snowy Owl by Amy Wedig

01/21/2014:  Pat Ready from Dane county sent this map showing where the Snowy Owls are being sighted over the state.  Thanks, Pat.

Map of Snowy Owl sightings

01/20/2014:  Jim Barth from Benton, WI sent this email: I saw 5 male Bluebirds in a group on stretch of Buncombe Rd. at around noon today. It was on a stretch were I have nest boxes.

01/20/2014:  Joan Harmet from Elizabeth, IL (just over the Wisconsin border) sent this email:  I have had six-seven BB’s at a time at my water bath (heated) on my deck. It is an incredibly beautiful sight. And they have been through snowstorms and below zero temperatures constantly! Happy New Year!

01/20/2014:  Mike Smith took this photo of a Snowy Owl between Montfort and Cobb in Iowa county.  Nice photo, Mike!  Mike saw another one just outside of Linden, WI.

Snowy Owl by Mike Smith_MG_5359

01/20/2014  Jim Kostohry from Darlington reports that he saw Eastern Bluebirds in Rockton, IL during his recet visit there.

01/20/2014  Barb Smith from Argyle reports hearing Barred Owls in her area.

1/19/2014: Sue Cashman saw a group of turkeys heading south toward her feeders.The distraction made by walking to her window with a camera caused the birds to turn and head north.turkeys

01/17/2014: Reports have been posted on our facebook page that Snowy Owls have been sighted by the Seymour Church on St. Peter’s Rd east of Darlington.  Another sighting in December was on H and G road between Wardsville Rd and County E going east of Darlington.

01/05/2014:  Pat Ready from Dane county reports: I did my local CBC yesterday and had this lone Meadowlark at a seed spill east of Stoughton. This is in wide open farm country. Hope he can find refuge in a barn or shed these nights ahead. I did not have any BBs in my area but they did west of Stoughton. (here is a photo of the bird)

meadowlark in the snow

01/03/2014:  Barb Smith from Argyle reports that she has four or five males and one female bluebird on her deck.

01/02/2014:  Carol McDaniel reports sighting four Bald Eagles feeding on a deer carcass on County Rd M, between Hwy 81 and Riverside Rd east of Darlington.

01/01/2014:  Linda Augustine reports a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at the bird feeder.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Linda Augustine

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Linda Augustine

2013 sightings follow:

10/03/2013:  Gordie Larson reports that he saw a large flock of hundreds of Eastern Bluebirds in the Argyle area.

10/03/2013:  Steve Seffood reports he had a small green and yellow bird enter his truck window and sit on the seat.  He gently encouraged it to fly away and shortly it did.  He said, “It was the prettiest little bird I have ever seen.”  He looked it up and identified it as a Palm Warbler.  Thanks Steve for telling us about this close encounter.

Eastern Bluebird
taken by Carol McDaniel

5/30/13 Sue Cashman and Marilyn Chambers drove northeast of Yellowstone Lake and observed several species of birds: Bob o’Links, many Eastern Bluebirds, several Eastern Meadowlarks, a Kingbird, several Tree Swallows,  many Red Winged Blackbirds, and a pheasant.  They stopped at the Yellowstone Lake feeders and watched  Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a flicker, Baltimore Orioles, a turkey vulture, some Mourning doves, and a  cardinal.  It was wonderful to see so many Eastern Bluebirds which were nesting in the bluebird boxes along the roadside.

5/17/13 Sue Cashman observed two adult and two young Baltimore Orioles enjoying oranges at her feeder.

Sue Cashman has her bird feeders in a tree, and the bright yellow goldfinches decorate the tree like ornaments.

5/14/13 Gladys Christensen reports observing a Scarlet Tanager in her yard. This is the second year she has seen one, hopes it is nesting.

05/05/2013  Velma Klenke from Darlington reports:   I had a Red-headed Woodpecker at the feeder eating oranges.

05/04/2013  Linda Augustine from Argyle reports:  We spotted this bird today (several of them actually), it is a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  We had such a flutter and a flurry of activity at our feeders this week.  There are some Indigo Buntings also passing through at this time (see photo below).

Yellow-rumple Warbler taken by Linda Augustine

Yellow-rumped Warbler
taken by
Linda Augustine

Photo by Linda Augustine

Indigo Bunting and American Goldfinch photo by
Linda Augustine

Indigo Buntings-6

Indigo Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeak
taken by Linda Augustine

05/03/2013  Colleen Schultz from Calamine reports:  An almost unbelievable sight in our back yard = two red headed woodpeckers at our bird feeders! We have never, ever had these shy, elusive birds come anywhere near our property. The cold weather may have driven them to a place to get food. They are so incredibly beautiful! Have never seen one so close up before, less than 10 yards from our window. We tried to take some photos, but with the overcast, gloomy sky and rain, have not been too successful.

05/2/2013  Velma Klenke in Darlington reports:  I have Baltimore Orioles, Red- breasted Grosbeaks and Ruby-throated Humming birds now.

05/2/2013 Judy Corbin reports from Danville, Illinois:  Saw our first bluebird yesterday.  It checked out our bird box and left.

5/1/13 Sue Cashman observed four Rose Breasted Grosbeaks at her feeders this morning.

04/21/2013  Pat Ready from Dane Co. reports this: Here are some photos I took yesterday morning when checking my trail.

Disgruntled Tree Swallow in 28 degree morning.

Hermit Thrush searching for food.

Song Sparrow in full song. Or is he gargling?! 😉


On Lake Mendota I found a male Horned Grebe. The lakes here are full of late migrants that can’t move north because the lakes are still frozen up there. Lots of loons here still. They are usually gone by April 7 or so. This weather effects more than just BBs!

04/16/2013  Marne Bennett from Oakland, California called to report that she has 200 Cedar Waxwings in the three large birch trees in her lawn.  In the past she has had a Nutall Woodpecker, a rare sight.  We don’t have that woodpecker in Wisconsin.  Marne thought we were the same Lafayette that is in her local area.  She was looking for a web site to report her bird sightings.  It was great talking to her about the birds.  What an unusual series of events. Carol

04/16/2012  Mary Riggs lives in the city of Darlington and she called to report an Eastern Towhee under her bird feeder.  This is the beautiful bird that sings “drink your tea”.

04/14/2013 Dan Jackson from Vernon Co. (near LaCrosse) saw this interesting sight:  We found a Mountain Bluebird at the Trempealeau NWR at about 2:40 today. When we first found it, it was on the north side of the road on the west side of the small knoll on the main road into the refuge. This is about ¼ mile west of the entrance to the north wildlife loop. The bird then moved east and crossed to the other side of the knoll. It was seen in that area checking out a Bluebird house until a pair of Eastern Bluebirds chased it away. It was last seen about 3:00 on the north side of the road near a small retaining wall near the top of the knoll.  (Look on the Photos of birds and wildlife page to see the picture he took. ed)

4/14/13 Sue Cashman received the following message from a cousin who lives near Loves Park, Ill:   Duane and I were walking in the park this afternoon, and saw some really tiny birds.  We stood very still on the path and were treated to a visit by a ruby crowned kinglet, so close we could nearly touch him.  We watched him flit around the bush close to us for several minutes, and I felt afterward that we were granted a magic moment!  I had seen yellow crowned kinglets, one hit our window one summer and was stunned long enough for me to study him close.  He revived and flew away.  Just wanted to tell you about it.

04/10/13  Karen Curry from Darlington has a large flock of Cedar Waxwings in a bush outside of her front room window.  The bush has berries that the birds are probably eating.  She said they sit together in pairs.

04/10/2013  Dick Bach says: I haven’t seen downies at our hummingbird feeders, but  chickadees visit them often.

04/10/2013 Sue Cashman reports that Marilyn Chambers has robins who eat grape jelly that she puts out. (It seems like it is never too early to get the sweet feeders ready for the birds. ed)

04/10/3013  Jo McWilliams reports this unusual behavior: I have my hummingbird feeder up a bit early I know, but I want to be ready. Much to my surprise I have had a downy woodpecker visiting it quite often. I have a birdbath out near it, but he seems to enjoy the sugar water! I enjoy watching him too.

04/07/2013  Colleen Schultz from Calamine report:  Don & I saw a pair of sandhill cranes this a.m. on CR C near Truman; a first time for us!

04/04/2013 Paul Elgin from Belmont reports: There is a Bald Eagle nest about 3/4 mile past Lake Joy on Bethel Grove Road (Mineral Point).  Also saw 2 Wood Ducks tonight.

04/04/2013 FIRST BLUEBIRD NEST from Hatch Barth, Benton: I was out repairing and replacing preditor guards today and I found a Bluebird nest. The pair was there and the female was inside. Its normal for us to find the 1st nest the 1st week in April it just seemed like a long time coming after last year.

04/02/2013 Steve Hubner from Darlington reports: Many blue birds at Yellowstone .  Several or  many boxes with blues in them even the one at the park office.  Saw 8 Trumpeters in the river bottom lake just before south Wayne. I went to a work party in Albany on the way back went through Cisserville Rd. along the Pec but no whoopers yet.  Lots of ducks and geese.

03/31/2013 From Pat Ready, Dane County: Last week down in GA I managed to see a few Blues.  At the Okeefenokee Swamp was the 1st one. Swamp and bluebirds don’t seem to mix but they had a major fire there in 2011.  In the burned areas the bluebirds have moved in using the old holes from woodpeckers. Nature takes care of her own!  Another place where I photographed this guy (see att pic) was on Jeckyll Is.  At one end there are old native oaks where woodpeckers have holes.  The blues nest in them. This one was alone when I was birding there for several hours and was hunting for food. He was nice enough to pose for me.  Did some maintenance on my trail today (Dane County) and made sure boxes were closed up. Found my 1st HOSP nest attempt. Male starter nest. No Blues.  Did find 1 box with sumac seeds lining the bottom.  Migrating birds go to sumac when food is scarce due to bad weather. Like now!  On my way to and from my trail I did see 2 bluebirds along country roads. So I know they are around! (There is one of Pat’s bluebird photos on the Photos of Birds page. ed)

03/20/2013  From Ken Vlasak: To let you know the blue birds are  back. Saw the lst pair this a.m. checking out the bird house. Good to  see them again. Ken Vlasak Blanchardville

03/29/2013  Steve Seffrood saw 5 big white birds with black wing tips near Gratiot. (Snow Goose?)

03/29/2013  Christine and Howie Hill report a flock of 30 Trumpeter Swans along Hwy 11 near South Wayne.

03/29/2013 Steve Hubner and Mary Zimmerman from Darlington report their first Eastern Meadowlarks.  Two weeks ago, Mary saw bluebirds and closed up her boxes.

03/26/2013  Bonnie McDaniel from Columbus reports:  I have been hearing and seeing sandhill cranes every morning.  Love the sound of them.  Also can hear red-winged blackbirds outside my window.  My window is open!  Guess it must be getting closer to spring!  (Bonnie supplies the cartoons you see on this website. ed)

03/26/2013  Marilyn Chambers reports from the Yellowstone Lake State Park bird feeding station:  The birds flocked to the feed  after I filled the feeders:  cardinals, blue jays, goldfinches, chickadees,  titmice, wb nuthatches, downy, hairy and red-breasted woodpeckers.  On the  ground I saw 2 American Tree sparrows and 1 Song Sparrow (anyhow that’s what I  figured it was).  Further on down the Lake Rd where it meets Co. N….I saw  14 sandhill cranes, several geese, several turkeys, and several male mallard  ducks feeding in a very wet cornfield.

03/25/2013 Kristine Haas from Darlington reports: I saw some Robins playing in a melt off stream over by Hazel Green on Sat. and then I was so proud of myself I saw another Robin yesterday just north of town.  Yeah spring is coming soon.  Can’t wait for the temps this weekend.  Happy Bird viewing.

03/24/2013:  Paul Elgin from Belmont reports:  I was on my way up to Lake Delton for the Bird Education summit and saw a Kingfisher. And while I was there a group of us went out and Spotted a Great Grey Owl. What an Awesome experience.

03/24/2013  Barb Smith from Argyle reports: I am pretty sure that the large raptor I saw this morning, cruising the valley was a turkey vulture – the first I’ve seen this year.

03/24/2013 Jan Reined from South Wayne reports: Besides seeing Canadian Geese, I saw  and especially heard two Trumpeter Swans fly right  over me while I was feeding the many birds, squirrels etc. last night. Beautiful sight to see those majestic white birds and a sure sign that Spring (with hopeful warmer weather) will be arriving soon.

03/24/13 Sue Cashman reports some early  morning turkeys that have been visiting her feeders. On the 24th, there were two Toms in the group, one of which kept displaying his handsome feathers. Sue thought he must be showing off, possibly taking credit for finding a plentiful source of food, possibly showing off to the females.

03/23/2013 Carol McDaniel reports:  I saw and heard three Eastern Meadowlarks in the Willow Springs area north of Darlington.  They are 10 days later than last year.  The  meadowlark numbers are fewer each year.  There is simply not enough safe territory for them to nest on.

03/23/2013 Pat Ready from Madison reports:  This week I had my 1st robins and grackles in the yard.  Best bird yesterday tho was a Hoary Redpoll feeding with about 15 Common on my Nyger feeder.  No bluebirds yet.  Here’s a pic I took last week suspecting it was a Hoary Redpoll.  On 03/24/2013, saw it from the back and confirmed it was. Frosty with white rump and no streaks.  Nice lifer and yard bird!

Hoary Redpoll

03/23/2013:  Jean Austin from Darlington reports: There were lots of Red Wing black birds here just before noon today.

03/23/23: Bonnie McDaniel from Columbus reports: Saw the fattest robin ever outside my window at school. But no bluebirds yet. Maybe tomorrow…

03/23/2013:  News from Jo McWilliams: “My daughter in Verona called last Wednesday and said she had about 30 robins and red-wing blackbirds in the tree in her yard. Needless to say, she was very excited. I guess spring is on the way.”


Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins
by Jo’s daughter

03/23/13  While traveling to Carol and John McDaniel’s house on Hwy 23 today, Darlington, Sue Cashman spotted a bluebird sitting on the highline in their front yard.  So, Sue saw the McDaniel’s first bluebird!

03/23/2013  Vicki Whitford from Darlington reports a pair of Mourning Doves on her property.  On January 5, Vickie had one Common Redpoll that spent its nights on her porch, she called him Carl.  Now she has a flock of redpolls.  Carl must have spread the word.

03/23/13 While visiting Yellowstone Lake State Park on March 11, Marilyn Chambers observed a Red Winged Blackbird and one Sandhill Crane.

03/23/2013  Carol McDaniel reports seeing a flock of 20 Red-winged Blackbirds  two miles east of Darlington on Hwy 81.

03/04/2013 Virginia Thilmany writes:  I live just south of Winona, MN. I saw a bluebird this afternoon while walking my dog.

02/25/2014  Vicki Whitford reports:  Snow geese also seen in Dubuque today. What a wonderful sight and sound.

02/24/2013  News from Patrick Ready: No snow geese here but I was able to find a migrating (very early) flock of Tundra Swans here in Dane Co.These were taken at Fish Camp Co. Park on the NW shore of Lake Kegonsa.  I used my spotting scope with my iPhone attached as these swans were about 100 yards out from shore. The lake is still frozen but this is where the Yahara Rive enters the lake.Always one of the 1st water openings in late winter. No bluebirds tho!! :-

Photo taken by Patrick Ready

Tundra Swans
taken by Patrick Ready

 02/23/2013  Peg Rasch sent this observation:  This afternoon, Feb.23, around 2:30 – 3:00, my  husband, David, and I saw a small flock of snow geese fly overhead.  We  were walking on Whiteside Road, outside of Argyle.  We have never observed  snow geese before.  I do not know if this was an unusual sighting but it sure  was nice to see and hear. 

02/15/2013  Hatch Barth spotted BLUEBIRDS in the Buncombe area near the New Diggings/Leadmine area.  He, also, saw a flock of 20-30 robins and one Kingfisher.

02/20/2013  Suzie Osterday reports having Redpolls at her bird feeder in Darlington.

02/04/2013  Pat Ready reports seeing a couple flocks of BLUEBIRDS near Muscoda.  (That’s right, he said bluebirds!)

02/04/2013  Pat Ready reports seeing “Golden Eagles along Hwy. G south of Muscoda (Richland County). So for the past 4 years or so we go down and look for them late morning when the thermals form over the ridges of the hills there. It is a raptor haven there. We saw Rough-legged Hawk, Red-tail Hawk, Bald Eagle and the Golden within 10 mins in a 1/8 mile stretch. In a few hours time we had several balds, RL hawks and more RT hawks then I think I ever saw in a day. ”  (This isn’t Lafayette County news, but it is great to know about and worth the trip.  ed.)

1/22/2013  Carol McDaniel reports seeing six Mourning Doves at her backyard feeding station.

01/16/2013  Vicki Whitford reports having an American Robin in her yard today.

01/05/2013 Vicki Whitford who lives just on the edge of Darlington, reports having a Common Redpoll spending its nights on her porch on top of a light fixture.

01/07/2013 Jane Walter reports seeing a few Tufted Titmice at her bird feeder in rural Darlington.

2012 sightings follow:

9/01/2012  Carol McDaniel has a small flock of about 15 Eastern Bluebirds in her backyard.  They appear in the early forenoon.  A Downy Woodpecker has been using a bluebird nest box for his roosting box.  Each night just before sunset, he appears on the box and goes inside.  Once in a while he peaks out the entrance hole to see what is going on.  The hummingbirds are still at the nectar feeders.  There are three of them and they don’t get along very well.

5/23/12 Sue Cashman heard a ruckus in her yard and looked out to see a Red Tail  Hawk hovering above. Within an instant a second hawk dove for the top of her blue spruce and arose with a grackle chick in its beak. It shot out of the tree with the speed of a missile, joined the other hawk and flew off. About a week later, she heard a chorus of squawking and observed about a dozen grackles landing in her yard. A few minutes later she looked skyward and observed the group of grackles high above  in pursuit of a Red Tail. Although the Red Tail  tried repeatedly  to circle back toward her yard,  the grackles succeeded in chasing it away. It is one thing to read about birds of prey, another to see them in action.

5/7/12 Carol McDaniel spotted a Solitary Sandpiper on the Hill Bluebird Trail northeast of Darlington.  (see photo on bird photo page) The American Restart and Common Yellowthroat were also observed there.

5/7/2012 Gladys Christensen observed an Eastern Bluebird on a new Simple box that had been installed in her yard about an hour before.  It must have been waiting for the new home. Gladys is keeping her eye on a Peterson box with four bluebird eggs that are about to hatch.

5/5/12 Sue Cashman had a pair of Baltimore Orioles at her oriole feeder in her yard on Saturday, May 5.

5/03/12 Marilyn Chambers reports a Baltimore Oriole, several R-B Grosbeaks, and a Red Headed Woodpecker at her feeders. The woodpecker was fighting with some grackles over peanuts and suet. She reports that it was exciting to see the Red Headed Woodpecker and hopes it will come back. She also saw her first hummingbird.

05/01/12 Velma Klenke reports a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at her feeder today.

05/01/12  Carol McDaniel reports seeing a Palm Warbler northeast of Darlington.  (see bird photo page)

4/30/12 Marilyn Chambers observed a Rose-breasted Grosebeak at the Yellowstone Lake feeders.

4/28/2012 While traveling north on Hwy 23, about two miles south of Darlington, Sue Cashman startled a Bald Eagle that was eating carrion at the side of the road. It took flight as she passed by.

04/28/2012 Linda Augustine reports: The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak arrived at my feeders today!  I usually look for them around Mother’s Day, so this is a much earlier sighting for me.  Love that bird!

04/22/12  John Arthur, Park Manager at Yellowstone Lake State Park reports seeing White Pelicans on the lake near the park office.  Paul Elgin from Belmont sent an email saying that there are usually large groups of White Pelicans that can be seen in the the backwaters by Big H Campground between Potosi and Cassville in Grant County.

4/19/12  Carol McDaniel reports a Rufous-sided Towhee singing in a treetop on Cannon Road northeast of Darlington.  This property has Field Sparrows, Brewer’s Blackbirds and American Song Sparrows.  The Palm Warbler is currently found here as it is migrating through.

03/17/12 Email news from Jim Barth of the Barth Trail:  I’ve been seeing alot of bluebirds and and they are pairing up already. I think it is too warm too soon, that could get them going and then we might have some cold weather that would hurt them. It sure is a nice stretch of warm werther we’re having though. Heather and I went out this past week and cleaned out the boxes and moved some around to hopefuly better locations. You will be hearing from us every week starting on the weekend of 3/24. Thanks

4/4/12 Marilyn Chambers and Sue Cashman hiked at Yellowstone Lake State Park and enjoyed, not only the fragrance of the Wild Plum blossoms, but sighting several birds. They saw two Bald Eagles in their nest and later watched them soar. They observed a pair of Sandhill Cranes, 3 cormorants, several coots, Bufflehead Ducks, a Wood Thrush, an American Tree Sparrow, and a Song  Sparrow. It was a great experience on a beautiful afternoon.

03/26/12 Read about the odd behavior of bluebirds on Velma’s Page.

03/20/12 Velma Klenke reports that all three of her bluebird boxes have a little nesting material in them.  She is pretty sure the bluebirds have put it there.

03/19/12 Mark Garvey reports that he sighted a osprey flying over the lake at Yellowstone Lake State Park.

03/15/12 This email is from Patricia Heiden from Waukesha County: Just thought we’d let you know our first Tree Swallow arrived here today in southeastern Wisconsin.  It’s record early.  I’ve been keeping records since 1979 and the earliest one we’ve ever had prior to this is March 19th.  That was in 1995.  Have bluebirds too, of course. (Thanks, Pat.  Ed.)

03/14/12 Carol McDaniel reports hearing the Eastern Meadowlark singing in the Darlington area.  Eastern Bluebirds are checking out the boxes in the back yard.  Red-winged Blackbirds are everywhere.

3/13/12 Sue Cashman sighted a Song Sparrow in the brush along Gun Club Road. She heard a Killdeer in the field jus north of Spring Street in Darlington. She also noticed a yellow cast on the feathers of the male American Goldfinch.

3/12/12 Sue Cashman sighted two pair of Eastern Bluebirds in her yard on March 11. They were feeding on mealworms and insects on the ground.

Photo of Eastern Bluebird by Sue Cashman

03/12/12 Velma Klenke reports two bluebirds at in her backyard today.

The Sandhill Crane blends in with its surroundings.

03/08/12  I took a trip to Yellowstone Lake State Parktoday and took a few photos of the birds on the water around the dike.  The Sandhill Cranes were vocal, that is how I knew they were there, they blend in with the cattails.  There were several Buffleheads and Lesser Scaup.  The  AmericanCoots and Canada Geese were there.  I didn’t see the American Eagle.  There were a few birds enjoying the seed that Marilyn Chambers puts out for them. Carol McDaniel

Bird feeding station at Yellowstone Lake State Park

03/08/12  Steve Seffrood reports seeing his first bluebird on County Trunk K near the old dump site,  just east of Darlington.

03/07/12 John and Carol McDaniel spotted several Common Mergansers on a pond on Pecatonica Rd between Darlington and Gratiot.

03/06/12 Marilyn Chambers reports seeing a pair of sandhill cranes as she turned off Hwy 81 onto Co. G on the way from Argyle to Fayette. (She is still putting feed in the bird feeders at Yellowstone Lake State Park. Ed.)

03/06/12   Mary Zimmerman and Steve Hubner send a report that they idenitified five Trumpeter Swans  on a pond on the wet land at the intersections of Red Rock and Walnut Roads, Darlington.  Mary sent this history of the once nearly extinct Trumpeter Swan:  By 1900, it was believed that the species had become extinct, from  market hunting and the use of swan skins in powder puffs and feathers in ladies  hats.   Fortunately, a small, nonmigratory population survived in  the remote mountain valleys of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. COOL…… NOTICE THE NAME BELOW.  In 1935, the U.S. government established Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in  Montana to protect the remaining trumpeter swans. With protection at the refuge  and in Yellowstone National Park, the swans in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming  increased to 640 birds by the late 1950s.  In an effort to increase the swan population and improve their  chances of survival, some trumpeters were moved to other areas with good swan  habitat, including Hennepin Parks in Minnesota. Those forty birds from the Red  Rocks Lakes NWR, formed the core of the Midwest’s restoration effort in the late  1960s.  (The photo was taken by Mary Zimmerman)

03/05/12 Grace Storch from Elizabeth,IL sends her report that the Eastern Meadowlarks are on their way here.  She saw some today at her home and Elizabeth isn’t far from Lafayette County as the meadowlark flies.  She also has a Fox Sparrow at her feeder.  (I love the song of the meadowlark! This is one bird that is struggling in our county. If you have nesting meadowlarks this spring, let me know. Ed)

03/05/12  While returning from a visit to Gratiot yesterday, I saw several water fowl on a pond just off of the intersection of Walnut and Red Rock roads.  Without my binoculars, I couldn’t identify them. In the pasture nearby, was a pair of Sandhill Cranes. (Carol McDaniel)

03/05/12  Sue Cashman reports seeing a Mourning Dove at her feeder in Darlington.  (The Mourning Doves have been around for about a week now, Sue’s is the first report I have received. Ed)

03/04/12 Soni Wolfe, Darlington, reports seeing a flock of 20 robins around 5:30 pm on her lawn in an area without snow.

03/03/12 Velma Klenke reports a Common Redpoll at her backyard feeder in Darlington.

03/02/12  Sue Cashman spotted two Bald Eagles on Hwy 81 east of Darlington.  (A pair nested there last year and Ruth Ann Peterson reported watching three young at the nest. Ed)

03/02/12  Carol McDaniel saw four bluebirds flying in and out of the nest box in her back yard one mile north of Darlinfton about two hours before the big snow started.

o3/01/2012  Jim Hess emailed to say that he has seen bluebirds checking out his bird boxes since the middle of February!  One sighting was on February 16th on a nice warm day in the 40 degrees. Jim is near Blanchardville.

02/29/2012  FIRST BLUEBIRD SIGHTING REPORT !!  Roy Krizizke, rural Darllington,  reports that he saw an Eastern Bluebird on the ground by his bird feeder today!

02/28/2012  Reported by Sue Cashman, Darlington: I observed two Canada Geese headed south this morning. I observed them as I was walking east on Spring Street.

02/24/2012 Reported by Linda Augustine, Argyle:  Yesterday, there were two Canada Geese walking on the ice in the middle of the lake. They looked a little perplexed and maybe a tad early to visit in Hidden Valley.  Moments later there were two Blue Herons walking on the ice.  I rarely see these this early.  And also yesterday a Brown Creeper on the tree.

2/07/12: Yellowstone Lake Park Ranger Mark Garvey reported seeing 6 Sandhill Cranes at the park.

02/20/12: Barbara Smith, from rural Argyle, has this to share:

“Two beautiful Sandhill Cranes flying gracefully over my barn this afternoon. Spring really is coming. And nobody shot them – yet.=” (Barbara is referring to the April 9 Conservation Congress vote:

QUESTION 69. Sandhill Crane Season (# 550111)

The Sandhill Crane population in Wisconsin has grown in size and a population has been established.
Some farmers in Wisconsin are reporting high levels of crop damage by Sandhill Cranes.
Other Mississippi Flyway states are currently petitioning the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service for a hunting season on the eastern Sandhill Crane.

Are you in favor of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress asking the Wisconsin Legislature to give the DNR authority to develop a hunting season for Sandhill Cranes?  Vote yes or no on April 9, 7:00 pm, Darlington High School.

  NO ______

Sandhill Crane taken by Carol McDaniel



FEBRUARY 23, 2012

The weather report of pending snow kept many birders away from our hike yesterday.  Seven fearless birders turned out for the hike at the Yellowstone Lake. They included: John, me, Mary Riggs, Ruth Ann Peterson, Marilyn Siegenthaler, Ancil Norland, and Amy Arthur.  Amy is trying to get a Friends group going for the park.  We saw a few birds at the feeders:  cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, and juncos  (thanks Marilyn Chambers for filling the feeders).   I bet there are many more birds today with all of this snow. It started snowing in the first half hour and, by the time we were finished, we were pretty well covered with snow. We pointed out the various plants and abandoned bird’s nests. Amy found some pretty feathers that  were from a pheasant or some kind of duck. We saw the scat of a coyote. The Sandhill Cranes and the Canada geese started calling as we neared the end of the hike. We didn’t see the eagle, because all we could see through our binoculars was snow. Ruth Ann Peterson commented that she thought the hike was wonderful and she loved the beautiful snow.  Ancil gave each of us a booklet titled: The Dirty Dozen and Beyond that identifies 25 pasture weeds. Everyone thought it would be fun to do another hike in a few weeks to see the changed around the dike.  Watch your email for the date of our next hike.


The Pileated Woodpecker begins his loud call in late January.  In 2010, the LCBS conducted a survey on this large woodpecker species to find out how many of the birds live in Lafayette County.  A total of 15 sightings were reported with 17 birds observed.  5 males, 2 females and 10 unknown.  The number and towns where observed were: 6 Darlington, 3 Argyle, 4 Blanchardville,  1 Wiota, and 1 just outside of Lafayette County in Green County.  The dates observed and number of sightings were: 7 sightings in January, 3 in Feburary, 5 in March, one in June, one in October.  Only once did I receive a report of a sighting twice from the same location by two different observers.  Two sightings were within city limits.  One person called to say he remembered seeing them as a child 40 years ago in rural Darlington.  One Darlington farmer reported that his sighting was the first he had seen in 20 years on his property.  The activity encouraged people to look for the rarely seen bird.  No reports of young were reported.  This photo was taken by Brad Lancaster in 2011.

Pileated Woodpecker

This photo was taken by Bob Laeser in 2011.

Pileated Woodpecker

3 responses to “Blues News and Early Bird Sightings

  1. I live in Southern California, city of Hemet. We have been seeing huge amounts of Indigo Buntings this month. We have never seen them here before. It has been cold here this past month, and today it is very windy and raining. The birds are active and singing, even in this bad weather. We were wondering if the bad weather across the nation has driven them here. It is Jan. 31, 2016.

  2. Nice website, I have a question regarding bird activity on I 94 North of the Pleasant Prairie exit. On the west side of the road there is a number of large nests, what kind of birds are they?

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