A Travellerspoint blog

Twitch: Mexican Violetear

Soldier Valley, WI

all seasons in one day 69 °F

On this chilly day, I woke up at the brisk hour of 5:40am to twitch a rarity that had shown up hundreds of miles off-course: a Mexican Violetear in the hills of rural southwest Wisconsin! This would be a lifer for me if seen, so I was chomping at the bit to get there.

Along scenic Highway 14 in Wisconsin, I spotted a number of SANDHILL CRANES alongside the road which were just begging for photos.

And a roadside bathroom break (in the woods — no gas station bathrooms in the time of covid!), there was even a pocket of warblers including this secretive male AMERICAN REDSTART.

After a rather grueling drive, I arrived at the appointed country house by 10:40am to find a group of birders already gathered. I asked “the question” and faced some disappointing news: it hadn’t been seen since around 7am, by the owners. Well, I figured there was still a decent chance for it to show up randomly mid-day, so I parked myself in front of the house, near enough to chat with others but while being distanced.

The common hummer species, RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD, proliferated! Here is a female:

And a tail-less female!

And the glittering gorget of the male:

I loved admiring a Garden Orb Weaver in their plants. They had a great yard for wildlife overall — I heard a decent birdsong including several SEDGE WRENS and a SWAMP SPARROW, too.

Welp. No Mexican Violetear! Dang! A miss by three hours — sometimes, that’s just what happens, though. I had to head home in order to get the car back to my mom for her evening gig. I made a quick stop on the way back at Spring Green Nature Preserve to see if any of the interesting breeders were remaining. A CEDAR WAXWING greeted me with an AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. Love double photos!

And the surprise of the day came when a BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO, the much-less-common cuckoo species, swooped in and allowed for a few quick photos before disappearing into the second growth, as they tend to do. SUPER AWESOME!!!!

I believe this is my fifth Black-billed this year which is pretty unprecedented as I have gone years without seeing a single. It is a bumper year for them and the YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS (which I also had today) overall, I believe. So that will be my bird-of-the-day, with runner-up to the Sandhill Cranes. Absolutely NO awards to the missing Violetear which made me drive 8.5+ hours for nothing!!! Jeez, what a jerk...

Good(ish) birding,
World Life List: 1121 Species

Posted by skwclar 15:02 Archived in USA

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You were very near my SW Wisconsin home in the Viroqua area- welcome to the Driftless- I hope you come back for more birding. The upper Mississippi is only 20 miles west of here! Fall color is great. By the end of the first week of October, it's over. Liz

by liz cifani

Bummer on the violetear! But wow, I’d love to see a black-billed cuckoo!

by Poo

Come back anytime you want to see a black-billed cuckoo- they always summer here in the Driftless.

by liz cifani

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