WI Rare Birds: January

It’s time to cheer myself up about being in cold weather with the birds I could see this month. Thanks to diligent e-Birders and the Wisconsin Society of Ornithology Records Committee, many of the historic sightings from the state checklist are now online and searchable in e-Bird. If a particular species interests you, search for sightings within the time frame of interest. (Also, please note I’ll be updating this post to keep current with sightings for the month.)
With this El Nino winter, it’s already shaping up to be an interesting month! In addition to the famous ivory gull at Canal Park in Duluth, MN, black-legged kittiwakes have been putting on a show over Lake Superior. Keep checking “our maritime borders” for the other rare gulls have showed up on the big lakes this month: mew gull and glaucous-winged gull. As long as open water remains, it will be wise to keep an eye on the lakes for Pacific loons. Also historically this month, king eider has been found.
This is a good month to get out and look for gray partridge. They stand out (now that there’s snow!) and are easiest to find in winter.
Last year, an American 3-toed woodpecker dazzled many WI birders through the winter. They’re vaguely irruptive, and showed up at several sights in the far northern Midwest 2014/2015. This year doesn’t seem to be “their year,” but always check the burned forests!
As far as feeder birds, a lucky Clark Co. residence ended up with a gray-crowned rosy finch! Eurasian tree sparrow also made an appearance in a backyard. Last winter a brambling appeared at a northern feeder (currently, there’s one in OH and AR). Earlier this year, a sage thrasher made a brief appearance, and they have showed up at feeders in winter in WI in the past. Also watch your feeders for the very rare but possible…
  • curve-billed thrasher
  • green-tailed towhee
  • black-throated sparrow
  • lark bunting
  • black-headed grosbeak
  • streak-backed oriole
  • Scott’s oriole

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