Spring Migration has an established rhythm. Thanks to birders, naturalists, and citizen scientists from the past (whether 49 years ago, or even last year’s data), we have records for the Center of birds arriving, and can predict pretty easily when things should arrive.
We know from past years that our earliest migrants come at the end of March starting with Golden-crowned Kinglet, Fox Sparrow, and Red-winged Blackbird. April brings a wave of sparrows including, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, and Field Sparrow.
Our first warbler species in Wisconsin is reliably the Yellow-rumped Warbler. The Pine Warbler, Northern Waterthrush and Palm Warbler are usually not too far behind.
But the magic of spring migration is that despite these established rhythms, nature IS unpredictable, creating moments of joy and excitement for those paying attention.
This week, as I was birding with my friends, a tiny flash of bright yellow and blue caught my eye. Once we were on the bird, we realized we were viewing a Northern Parula. This species usually shows up in early May. And moments after that, a flash of yellow and black appeared nearby, and suddenly we are all stammering “Hooded Warbler!” Hooded Warblers are a rare treat for the Center each migration, so we were especially floored to see one so early in the year.
And even the “normal” birds that are seen the whole year can create wonderment. A leucistic American Robin has been hanging around the Center. So although we see robins all of the time, the unique pale pattern of this individual has captivated visitors.