Walks with Charlie


On most of my winter hikes at Baird Creek I don’t see a lot of wildlife, but today was one of those “Wild America” days.  While driving to the park a mature bald eagle flew over my car.  As I was getting out of my car I saw a raptor (bird of prey) fly into a bush at the edge of the woods.  A moment later a Cooper’s hawk flew across the soccer field just east of the parking area at Christa McAuliffe Park.

My next wildlife event was two chipmunks chasing each other.  Whenever us humans see something like that we always wonder, is it a male chasing a female in the hope of mating, two males contesting a territory, or just two chipmunks having fun on a beautiful day in the almost spring season.  I personally am going to go with two chipmunks having fun, but some biologists would have nothing to do with the idea of animals having fun.

The chipmunk sighting was followed shortly by two whitetail deer.  Every day the birds are calling more.  I heard pileated, downy, hairy, and red bellied woodpeckers, white breasted nuthatches, cardinals, chickadees and bluejays.

The cardinals are calling more every day.  Their courtship song sounds a little like ‘pretty, pretty, pretty’.  Cardinals are a very progressive species, unlike most song birds both the male and female sing the courtship song and studies have shown that the male feeds the babies more than the female.  Both males and females like to call from the top of a tree close to an open area, so if you hear cardinals they are usually fairly easy to locate.

In the next couple of weeks Wisconsin’s earliest flowering plant, the skunk cabbage, should be blooming, be on the lookout for it.

If you hike anywhere but on the flat asphalt trail, ice/traction cleats (a.k.a. Yaktrax) are absolutely necessary.  You can purchase them at Fleet Farm.