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Birds & Birding Regional Birder

This is regional birding information for:

Midwest
January 2015

The Midwest is a slice of many North American ecosystems, starting in the northern Great Lakes where the great coniferous forest represents a Canadian life zone. South of the forests, one finds a mixture of abandoned, grown up fields and small woodlots amidst active farms where cattle graze and crops are sown. The farther south one travels, the more the land turns to prairie grasslands. This vast contrast in habitat from deep northern coniferous forests, to prairie grasslands in the south, produces an equally diverse offering of birdlife.

Backyard Birds

Because of the diverse habitat in the Midwest, the most common backyard birds are among the most common backyard birds throughout North America: black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, house finch, house wren, northern cardinal, rose-breasted grosbeak, Baltimore oriole, ruby-throated hummingbird, American robin, eastern bluebird, barn swallow, purple martin, blue jay, downy woodpecker, northern flicker, mourning dove, ring-necked pheasant, killdeer, dark-eyed junco, song sparrow, yellow warbler, cedar waxwing, brown-headed cowbird, red-winged blackbird, gray catbird, mallard duck and Canada goose.

Regional Birds

In the northern forests, ruffed grouse, dark-eyed juncos, evening grosbeaks, red and white-winged crossbills, pine siskin, spruce grouse and red-breasted nuthatch breed. South of the great forests, in the more open, abandoned fields, croplands and farms, where woodlots, lakes and streams are plentiful, birders hear mourning doves coo, and eastern towhee sing. Also common are black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, Baltimore oriole, common grackle, red-eyed vireo, and blue-winged and golden-winged warblers.

In the southernmost regions of the Midwest, the birdlife is different again. Bobwhite whistle from fence posts, red-winged blackbird, American goldfinch, marsh wren, great blue heron and Canada geese are seen. The Great Lakes attract deep water and diving ducks, as well as gulls and terns.

What's happening in your backyard this month
  • Peak of winter bird feeding season; greatest number and varieties of winter birds are present.
  • Owls are singing: great horned and barred owls are hooting; screech-owls are whinnying.
  • Sign of spring as American goldfinches show first yellow in winter plumages.
  • As storms approach, birds feed more heavily in anticipation of severe weather.
What to do in your backyard this month
  • Warm bird bath water for birds to drink.
  • Collect discarded Christmas trees to create instant cover for birds.
  • Put up one bird house for birds to roost in during severe weather.
  • Keep feeders filled and free of ice and snow; feed suet to maintain birds' high energy.
 

 

 

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