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Bluebirds, Neotropical birds return to Wisconsin later than expected

The late migration he said is in part due to the ice storms that Texas saw earlier in the year, however, the species usually takes a hit in the winter.
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 9:29 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -It’s the time of year when Neotropical birds make their way to Wisconsin. This year, however, bluebirds are slow to migrate.

Kent Hall, a bluebird conservationist, who has been nicknamed Dr. Bluebird, has worked for decades to help the colorful birds thrive in Wisconsin.

“I had a love for nature very early in life, but I decided that hunting was not for me. But now I hunt birds. So I use binoculars. And I don’t kill the animal. I watched them and marvel at their livelihood,” Hall said.

He said this year, their migration pattern is two weeks later than normal.

“Bluebirds have not started nesting in large numbers yet. And usually, they’re nesting by mid-April. So we’re about two weeks behind where we normally are due to the weather,” Hall said.

The late migration he said is in part due to the ice storms in Texas earlier in the year, however, the species usually takes a hit in the winter. Despite the setback, the birds are quick to recover their population thanks to placed nesting homes. The Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin has placed more than 7,000 nesting homes across the state. Thanks to the housing, Wisconsin now leads the nation in new annual fledglings. BRAW members record about 20,000 bluebirds fledging each year.

Hall said he isn’t nervous about bluebirds’ repopulation but hopes people will continue to watch out for the birds.

Summertime birds are also on their way back to Wisconsin. To help hummingbirds, grosbeaks, and orioles thrive, Hall suggests getting out your birdfeeders.

Small birds like hummingbirds require a lot of nutrients to help keep them warm and moving. Hall said while it seems so simple, it can be detrimental to the health of the traveling birds. Hall suggests bringing your feeders inside at night and setting them back out early in the morning to make sure food stays dry.

If you are looking to try something new with your bird feeder, there are a couple of fun alternatives on top of birdseed. Hall said orioles love oranges and grape jelly. Those can be put right on your bird feeder.

When it comes to hummingbirds he said to boil three parts water with one part white sugar or sugar cane. The mixture should be replaced every few days.

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