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Migratory Birds

As we proceed through Wisconsin’s four seasons each year, you may appreciate the sight of colorful songbirds in springtime and notice the distinctive V-shape formation of Canada Geese as they fly south in the fall. These species are referred to as “migratory birds”, or populations of birds that travel from one place to another at regular times during the year.

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Why do birds migrate?

Birds migrate in search of resources needed for their survival. Migratory birds primarily pursue sources of food or nesting locations to raise their young. In Wisconsin, we see an influx of bird species in springtime as warm weather returns and insect populations increase. As temperatures begin to drop in the fall, food supply dwindles and the birds fly south.

How do birds migrate?

Scientists believe there are many factors that trigger the migration of bird populations. Birds respond to changes in their environment such as day length, temperature, and availability of food resources. Additionally many birds go through hormonal changes with the arrival of new seasons. These hormonal shifts may affect your caged birds at home, you may recognize restless behavior in spring and fall. This restlessness around migratory periods is referred to as zugunruhe.

It isn’t fully understood how birds have developed such impressive navigation skills, but there are several factors that guide them. Birds can use directional information using the sun, stars, and even earth’s magnetic field. Landmarks, position of the setting sun, and even smell plays a role for various species.

How do scientists study migratory birds?

Several methods have been developed to track and study migratory birds including banding, satellite tracking, and by attaching geolocators to individuals. At Snapshot Wisconsin, trail cameras are now being added to the list of tools! Using preliminary data gathered from Zooniverse, the below slideshow shows the detections of Sandhill Cranes on Snapshot Wisconsin cameras throughout the year. The study of migration can be immensely beneficial for conservation efforts by pinpointing wintering and nesting locations to monitor potentially threatened or endangered populations.

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Animal Selfies!

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Surprised  Doe – Jackson County, WI
Selfies are ubiquitous across social media and now the animals of Snapshot Wisconsin are getting in on the action.  Even though our trail cameras don’t make noise when they are triggered a lot of animals seem to become aware of the cameras.  These pics are usually pretty amusing when we come across them.  They also make good examples to use in social media posts so if you see a selfie when you are classifying please use #selfie when sharing it on the talk board.  Below are some more examples from trail cameras deployed in the elk camera grids.  We also have a Pinterest Board for Snapshot Wisconsin.  We plan to update the board seasonally so if you find a good picture tag it with the appropriate season when posting it to the talk boards so that it can be easily found to post to Pinterest.
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Stealthy Raccoon – Clam Lake, WI

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Antler bumps – Jackson County, WI

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What are you looking at?  Turkey – Ashland County, WI

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Fawn – Clam Lake, WI

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Fly By Selfie – Tree Swallow – Jackson County, WI

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Spring time buck – Jackson County, WI

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Summer time selfie – Fawn, Jackson County, WI

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Elk Calf Selfie – Sawyer County, WI

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Doe Selfie – Jackson County, WI

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Wolf Selfie – Sawyer County, WI

 

Young of the Year

At last count, we are 38% of the way through Season Two of Snapshot Wisconsin! On behalf of the research team, thank you! Keep up the great work!

Today I am sharing some of our favorite photos of deer fawns, bear cubs, and other young from previous seasons.  For the purposes of this project, we define “young” as offspring of the year, or animals less than one year old.  Because it is difficult to tell juveniles from adults by late fall, spring and summer photos are a great time to spot photos of young. To differentiate young from adults look for differences in body size, as well as juvenile markings, like the spots on deer fawns.  See our FAQ section for more details.

Have you spotted young of any other species? Share with us in the comments or on the Talk boards!