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West Bend, WI 53095

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Quad 30 Bird of the Day

Thursday, July 1st
Saxeville, Wisconsin


Mourning Warbler

I decided that the last Bird of the Day must be a warbler - the Mourning Warbler. On today's route I heard 6 of them singing from the dense thickets they favor when they arrive in mid-to-late May from their distant wintering grounds in Central and northern South America. Although the mourning is a "northern" species, our opinion of its distribution certainly has changed from what was then known and published in Sam Robbins' Wisconsin Birdlife. When the final results of the WBBA were finalized, some evidence for breeding was attained in almost 60% of the state's quads. Breeding is certainly occurring farther south than what was previously known.

Growing up in southern Ohio, this species somehow escaped my notice, and it was not until I was living in Ithaca, NY that I finally saw one. I clearly remember driving madly to wake my future wife, Kate Redmond, to bring her back to a couple of grand discoveries on a beautiful May morning. I had discovered the largest "patch" of morels of the largest size that I had ever seen and had flushed an incubating Ruffed Grouse near the largest of the wonderfully tasty mushrooms, AND to have Kate listen to and see the singing Mourning Warbler in the dense stand of brambles that were on the way to the morels.

This may be one Neotropical migrant that is benefiting from human activities, although the species remains vulnerable to a plethora of issues that could greatly affect its population in a negative way in the future. BBS data from WI indicate a long-term (1966-2003), statistically significant, positive annual increase of 1.7%.

I've enjoyed preparing these Bird of the Day columns, and I hope you found them enjoyable and at least somewhat educational. I'm sure that some "good" stories could have been prepared for the other ~140 bird species, and I hope they don't feel slighted by their not being selected.

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