The DNR posts its Outdoor Report on the internet every Thursday, and it includes a birding update as well as other outdoor news.
The recent warm temps and south winds have brought the expected movements of waterfowl, cranes, blackbirds and early migrants. This past weekend there was a large sandhill crane migration into southern Wisconsin. Geese are moving through in large numbers including some greater white-fronted geese, cackling geese and Ross' geese mixed in with the Canada geese.
Ruffed grouse are beginning pre-season mating activities, though no drumming has been observed yet. Killdeer have been making their presence known by their calls more than their appearance. This member of the plover family is known for its "broken-wing" act, a strategy that lures predators and people away from the nest. Woodcock are peenting, twittering and performing their nightly aerial displays. Barred owls have been aggressively trading territorial calls during the early night hours.
But I didn't need the DNR to tell me the Sandhill Cranes were back. There's a stretch of Highway 26 near the Rock River where I've seen cranes every day this week on the way home from work. They must see it as the perfect combination of wetlands and corn fields where they can forage in the stubble. This pair seemed to be croaking a duet in harmony, happy that the last of the snow has been melting in this warm weather.