Wisconsin Dickcissel
Dickcissels are being seen in good numbers across the state. Photo Credit: Ryan Brady

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

USA-(Ammoland.com)- In the bird world, and now the calendar as well, summer is firmly here. Many birds are in the heart of their nesting season — males singing vigorously to announce their territories while females take up the bulk of duty incubating eggs.

By late June many of these nests host tiny, fast-growing young, meaning adults can often be seen carrying food in their beaks and chipping with agitation when potential threats, like us, get too close.

Our earliest-nesting species are even fledging young now, including killdeer, American robins, eastern bluebirds, eastern phoebes, wood ducks, starlings, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, and more.

The nesting season is a critical time for many birds, especially our rarer species, which makes stories like these on the peregrine falcon and whooping crane (exit DNR) all the more pleasing.

Making the biggest splash this month, however, is a sparrow-like bird of grasslands known as the dickcissel. Though common in the plains south and west of Wisconsin each year, their numbers vary here annually, perhaps related to poor, drought-induced habitat conditions in their typical core range.

Well, this year is a great one for dickcissels in Wisconsin — the best since 2012 — so perhaps visit your favorite patch of grassland, pasture, or weedy field to look and listen for this showy species.

Feeders slow? Don’t despair

A final note on breeding season — you may have noticed your feeders haven’t been getting much action of late. That’s pretty typical for this time of year. Natural food sources are plentiful, adult birds are busy feeding young, and nestlings generally require insects not seeds, all leading to less feeder use.

That should change some come July, however, as families of grosbeaks, buntings, finches, chickadees, woodpeckers, orioles, and other species resume their feeder visits, often with youngsters in tow.

And don’t forget to offer a shallow water source, which often attracts more species this time of year than feeders do.

Rarities and reporting

The week’s best find was no doubt a buff-bellied hummingbird seen briefly and photographed in Ozaukee county, marking a first state record of this species that typically nests from south Texas into Mexico.

You never know what you might find this time of year so be sure to report all of your sightings to Wisconsin eBird’s website.

Good birding! – Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland