Thursday, November 29th, 2012 | Posted by : marybeth
By Naturalist Paul Regnier
Winter is the season of dramatic change. Many of our local birds are south and some of the northern birds also move south, some to Door County – which species and in what numbers is a yearly guess. For winter birding success, remember water and food. Find open water – Anclam Park in Baileys Harbor, Northport Dock, Sister Bay marina, and Sturgeon Bay canal for over wintering ducks, geese and swans. Search for berry-laden shrubs and trees along village roadways and yards for possible casual visitors – re-visit these sites often and at different times of day. In the winter of 2010-11, two northern visitors, the Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks, were seen by the 100's in the crab trees along Highway 42 from Fish Creek to Sister Bay. Also, scan roadside shoulders of interior County roads for small flocks (5-30) of Snow Buntings and Horned Larks. If autumn was mild and the early winter ground is bare, watch for large Rough-legged Hawks as they characteristically hover over grassy fields. Also, participate in one of the County's Christmas Bird Counts in December, it's a great way to meet local birders.
My fascination with birds and nature began at a very early age. At age 4 or 5, I had one of my first memories of birds. I can't recall exactly when, but I do recall exactly where. I remember standing at the edge of what we called the jungle watching waves of emerald feathers overhead – dense flocks of green colored parrots flying over unbelievably tall rainforest trees and into the Surinam sky. At eight, I proudly identified my first flock of 'wild canaries' (American Goldfinches) in my Green Bay backyard. These and many more formative experiences with nature fueled my life long hobby and profession with our natural world.
For the past 20 years, I've considered myself fortunate to claim Door County as my home. Door County is a haven for nature opportunities, one of which is with birds and watching birds. There are many reasons for this haven. The County's diversity of habitats with hundreds of miles of fresh water shoreline, dolomitic limestone bedrock and escarpment, deciduous and coniferous forests, upland woodlands and fields, lowland wetlands and estuaries, located half-way between the equator and north pole, land protection efforts and more, all contribute to the environmental conditions we have today. Simply put, a diversity of landscapes brings on a diversity of species, including birds.
Door County's recorded number of bird species exceeds one-third of the total species found in Canada and the U.S. combined. Over 100 of these are classified as rare, casual or accidental. These numbers are a tribute to the diversity and quality of habitats found here. For bird watchers, local and visiting, it's unmistakably a haven for all seasons of the year.
Birding is a year-round activity in Door County. The following is a very brief seasonal calendar for birding throughout the year. Consider the following a year long activity that could last a lifetime. When going through the calendar and when birding anytime, always keep in mind habitat – it's the key to understanding where certain species live and frequent.
High quality habitats are havens for wildlife like birds, but there is no guarantee that you'll see what you plan for. When birding Door County, and throughout most of the world, be ready for anything and expect the unexpected – its what makes birding a new experience each and every time!
Paul Regnier watches birds 12 months of the year in Door County and throughout the world.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about birding in Door County and an expanded version of the calendar, visit doorcountynatureandtravel.com/dcbirding.
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