Locations: Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Manitoba, Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland

This spring, I had business in Miami and the New Orleans area and planned to visit my mother in Montana. It only made sense to plan this as part of a birding loop, which turned out to be 12,500 miles (about the distance between the poles). I drove the loop in my ‘79 Fairmont. To avoid spending a fortune, I slept in the car. The trip cost about $800 in gas and less than $500 for food, day-use fees, and other expenses. On a typical day, I birded from before sunrise to after sunset, drove several hundred miles between sites at night, slept for a few hours curled up in the front seat, and repeated this the next day. I lived off cereal with water, juice, granola bars, raisins, junk food, and adrenaline. I had a great time! I saw 383 species and 106 lifers to increase my North America life list to 530. I planned the trip using the Lane guides, rare bird alters from the Internet, and information received in response to a request for information that Kathy Stagl posted for me. Many thanks go to Bob Doe, Bert Frenz, Jim Hailey, Lori Hunter, Tony Leukering, Brandon Percival, Chuck Sexton, Van Truan, and Sheri Williamson for providing extremely useful and detailed information. I also received many useful leads from birders I met during the trip. Before leaving, I checked my car out and tuned it up. The tires looked a bit worn but seemed to have a good bit of life left. I made sure the spare tire was inflated.

I did some birding at Huntley Meadows and the C&O Canal in the DC area at the start of the trip. Although migration was late, I saw several species that I did not see elsewhere on the trip. I left for Florida in the afternoon of 5/3. It was still fairly dark when I arrived at the Ocala National Forest the next morning and heard a CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW calling. I located it on a dirt road and saw its glowing eyes and silhouette with my flashlight. I was especially pleased to see this bird because I had been mystified by its call while growing up in Florida. After observing the behavior and appearance of several groups of FLORIDA SCRUB-JAYS, I began to appreciate why they were split from the WESTERN SCRUB-JAY. I also saw my first SUMMER TANAGER and SWALLOW-TAILED KITE. I unsuccessfully searched for BACHMAN’S SPARROW. I was pleased to see that RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS are doing well in this area. I spent the morning of 5/5 at Venus Flatwoods Preserve. I decided to increase my donation to The Nature Conservancy after visiting this wonderful little island in the Sea of Habitat Destruction. After a few hours of jockeying for position, I got a great view of a singing BACHMAN’S SPARROW. I also saw a pair of RED-COCKADED WOODPECKERS. I spent the afternoon of 5/5 at DING DARLING NWR. I got a great look at a BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO that was foraging in the mangroves. To me, this is the vireo with the most interesting song. I also saw several GRAY KINGBIRDS. While driving to Miami, I stopped at the Miccosukee Indian Restaurant to watch SNAIL KITES returning to roost. Harry and Rita DeFerrari took me out to the Gulf Stream off of Boca Raton on their boat on the morning of 5/7. Although it was a slow day for birds (but not flying fish), we saw several MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRDS (which certainly are magnificent). We also saw a possible MASKED BOOBY, but the boat was rocking too much to make a positive ID. After the boat trip, Harry noticed a colorful bird in his backyard that turned out to be a SPOT-BREASTED ORIOLE. I then followed Rita’s directions to a location with MONK PARAKEETS. I was surprised to see what tremendous fliers these beautiful birds are. I spent the morning of 5/9 at Everglades NP. I braved the mosquitoes and walked the entire length of Snake Bight Trail. At one point, I ventured a short distance off the trail to investigate the source of an interesting warbler song and got lost. I tried retracing my steps and ended up getting even more lost. I began to get concerned as the mosquitoes sucked my blood and the day began to get very hot. I finally came to my senses and used the sun as a compass. I walked north for several hundred yards and finally found the trail. I saw my first WILSON’S PLOVER on the beach at the end of the trail. I saw a white morph GREAT BLUE HERON at Anhinga Trail. I spent the afternoon and evening of 5/9 in the Keys. At Pennekamp Coral Reef SP, I found a MANGROVE CUCKOO with something in its mouth that I first mistook for a piece of nest material. I then realized it was a walking stick. The CUCKOO dropped his meal right by my feet and immediately dove down for it. He then looked up at me and flew back into the tree. I got a great look at the mask. As I continued to watch this bird, another BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO passed by. I drove on to Key West carefully checking for WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON but only found scores of COLLARED DOVES. I ended the day watching an ANTILLEAN NIGHTHAWK at the Key West Airport. On my final day in South Florida (5/10), I planned three stops and hoped to find at least one or two of the five key species I had so far failed to locate. Shortly after arriving at Loxahatchee NWR, I realized why I had been having problems finding these birds—they were all hiding here! I quickly located LEAST BITTERN, WOOD STORK, PURPLE GALLINULE, and LIMPKIN. I spent the rest of the day checking every grackle in locations suggested by some local birders. Just as I was about to give up, I noticed one with an odd looking beak—SMOOTH-BILLED ANI! I was really thrilled to see this exotic and interesting bird. Three or four of them flew over to the tree where they had nested. They were immediately mobbed by a mockingbird and several grackles. I wonder why they ganged up on them? I clapped my hands to run off the mobbers. I was fortunate that Loxahatchee was my first stop that day. It seems to be the best place to bird in Florida. I took a brief walk in the morning of 5/11 along the Hillsborough River in Tampa where I used to go swimming while growing up. I had really looked forward to this since I had memories of seeing Cardinals, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Great Horned Owls there years ago. I was pleased to see six species of warbler, BARRED OWL, ANHINGA, OSPREY, WOOD DUCK, WHITE IBIS, and about fifteen other species. I spent the rest of 5/11 driving to Louisiana. I had a blowout near Lake City and had to take a hike for help when I realized that the spare tire was for a Chevy! I paid an outrageous price for a cheep tire and picked up a spare at a junkyard. On the morning of 5/13, I visited Honey Island Swamp and located a SWAINSON’S WARBLER based on tips from Dan Purrington. I also saw a huge wild boar that was covered with fur.

I left for Texas in the afternoon of 5/13. I spent the morning of 5/14 at Laguna Atascosa and saw a BUFF-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER but was not able to find CASSIN’S or BOTTERI’S SPARROW. I decided to check the trail near the visitors center for the sparrows. I didn’t find them but saw several warblers, including a GOLDEN-WINGED. I spent the afternoon of 5/14 at the Sarita Rest Stop. I was puzzled by a yellow bird with a black back until I realized it was a LESSER GOLDFINCH. I had only seen the California race previously and did not realize there was such a great difference. After an hour or so of following it from tree to tree, I finally got a good look at a TROPICAL PARULA. I began 5/15 at Bentsen SP and searched unsuccessfully for the nesting GRAY HAWK. I then proceeded to Santa Ana NWR, where I managed to locate several GROOVE-BILLED ANIS after a long search and a tip from some birders. I started the afternoon at Falcon SP in search of sparrows without success. I found three of my targets on the road out of Falcon SP. I stopped to investigate a bird perched on a wire, which turned out to be a CAVE SWALLOW. I was able to get a good look at every field mark on this bird. I then noticed a CASSIN’S SPARROW singing on a fence. Finally, I saw a bird with a light-colored belly and wing bars sitting on a low bush. My first guess was a phoebe until I noticed a deep blue head. I was very puzzled until I realized that the apparent shade of blue was due to the angle of the sun. It was my fist LAZULI BUNTING. I rushed over to the Zapata library and arrived just before sunset to look for the WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATERS but was not able to find them. However, I did see another LAZULI BUNTING. I drove north to Lost Maples SP that night. Shortly before sunrise on 5/16, I stopped to enjoy a field full of singing DICKCISSELS. At Lost Maples, I saw several GOLDEN-CHEEKED WARBLERS and BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRDS and heard a singing CANYON WREN for the first time. However, I had to search for quite a while before I heard a BLACK-CAPPED VIREO. I then had to wait a long time for it to pop into view briefly. That night, I drove to Big Bend NP. I had to drive an hour or so out of the way (on to Alpine) because the gas stations at Marathon were closed. On the morning of 5/17, I took the 11-mile hike to see the COLIMA WARBLER. On the way up the mountain, I saw my first MEXICAN JAY, CANYON TOWHEE, and SCOTT’S ORIOLE. I also saw what appeared to be a much-desired BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW but was interrupted by a guy who had to tell the world he had just seen a deer. As I approached the Colima Trail, I heard and got glimpses of what had to be COLIMA WARBLERS. After I passed the spring, I began to get worried that I was not going to get a good look. So I backtracked a ways and got a great look at a COLIMA WARBLER out in the open just above eye level. On the way down, I enjoyed the beautiful scenery, saw another COLIMA WARBLER, and ran into two local birders who gave me some valuable leads on birds on the Window Trail and the Cottonwood Campground. I spent the afternoon and evening of 5/17 at Cottonwood Campground, which has a nice selection of birds, including orioles, PAINTED BUNTING, and VERMILION FLYCATCHER. ELF OWLS emerged from the cottonwoods at dusk. I noticed steel belts poking through one of my tires and replaced it with the spare. I spent the morning of 5/18 on Window Trail. On the way down, I got a great look at a VARIED BUNTING. The lighting was just right so the blue and red colors were very bright. I came across a skunk foraging on the trail. It refused to move and there was no way to go around it. So I got my nerve up and just bolted past it as fast as I could (probably the fastest I’ve ever run in my life). Near the end of the trail, I saw my first BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRDS. A couple came along who had also encountered the skunk and had tip-toed past it. I then found the LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD’S nest a few hundred feet up the canyon wall. I was not satisfied with the view and hoped someone would come along with a spotting scope. When this did not happen, I found a rocky area down the canyon that looked easy to climb. I climbed up about 250 feet and got a great look at the hummer from above. On the way back up the trail, I saw a HEPATIC TANAGER. This had been a productive morning! I spent the afternoon at Rio Grande Village unsuccessfully looking for hawks. However, I did find ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, and BELL’S VIREO in the cottonwoods.

That night, I drove to Portal, Arizona. The routine of birding all day and driving most of the night was beginning to get to me, but the excitement of birding in SE Arizona for the first time revived me. On the morning of 5/19, I made a brief stop at the Spofford’s house and saw STRICKLAND’S WOODPECKER and BRIDLED TITMOUSE. I then drove up to Rustler Park and saw YELLOW-EYED JUNCO, and RED-FACED, OLIVE, and GRACE’S WARBLER. I ran into a birder who told me where he had heard BLACK-CHINNED SPARROWS. That evening, I ran into a birder from Oxford, England who showed me WESTERN and WHISKERED SCREECH-OWLS in Cave Creek Canyon and took me to a location where COMMON POORWILLS were calling. I began the morning of 5/20 looking for the BLACK-CHINNED SPARROWS. I heard them but did not see them. I then went up the south fork of Cave Creek Canyon looking for ELEGANT TROGON. I heard one calling but was not able to see it. Some birders down the road spotted a female, and I got to see the lower half of its frontside. I also saw a SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and a flock of VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS. I noticed another tire starting to look bad and went to Tucson for a new set of tires. I ended the day at Saguaro NP and saw my first GILDED FLICKER. I began 5/21 at the Patagonia Rest Stop and saw VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD and THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD. I then went to Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, where a local birder named Diane helped me find GRAY HAWK, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, and LUCY’S WARBLER. We returned to the Rest Stop and heard the ROSE-THROATED BECARD. At the Paton’s house, we saw BROAD-BILLED, COSTA’S, and CALLIOPE (!) HUMMINGBIRD. We saw a ZONE-TAILED HAWK from the street outside the Paton’s house. This was a great day! I began 5/22 searching for sparrows in the vicinity of the Santa Rita Mountains. I saw what had to be a BOTTERI’S SPARROW on Box Canyon Road, but it was not singing. The bird was browner on the back than CASSIN’S SPARROW and it was surprisingly large. I checked the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge but didn’t find anything new. I got the impression that this canyon is overused. I went back to the Patagonia Rest Stop and saw what must have been the ROSE-THROATED BECARD removing material from one of its old nests. I then decided to take a chance on Ramsey Canyon even though I didn’t have a reservation. Fortunately, there was an available parking space and I got to see MAGNIFICENT and BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD. I waited around for the WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRD to show up but was unsuccessful. I drove back to Portal and was sad to see a dead BARN OWL on the road near Douglas. At sunrise on 5/23, I tried for the BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW again and was finally successful! The bird sang its unique bouncing ball song only briefly before the sun came up over the mountains. I went back up to Rustler Park and then to Barfoot Park and saw a MEXICAN CHICKADEE thanks to some help from a couple from California and a group of birders in a 4-wheel drive. These birders also gave me some suggestions regarding FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS at California Gulch—in particular that they stopped singing at about 7:20 am. I drove over to Garden Canyon. At the Upper Picnic Ground, I saw a photographer with a camera aimed at a sycamore. I asked him what he was observing, but he acted like a flake and did not reply. I followed one of Diane’s tips and saw BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER. After getting caught in a sudden downpour (which I rode out in a portable toilet), I saw a GREATER PEWEE and heard another ELEGANT TROGON (but once again failed to see it). I was a bit leery about the drive to California Gulch in my car and alone, but it seemed too good to pass up. I left Nogales at 3 am on 5/24 and saw several COMMON POORWILLS on the road. Things went smoothly (although the roads got very rough) until I got just past Sycamore Canyon and encountered a stream that was about 20 feet wide and 8 inches deep. I got out and walked through it barefoot and decided that my car MIGHT make it through if I went fast enough. One complicating factor was that it was necessary to turn left just before entering the stream. I backed up, got up my nerve, and made like Evel Knevel. There was a tremendous splash but I miraculously came up on the other side. The next several miles were very rough in places. I turned down Rte. 217 and saw something squat down beside the road. It was a MONTEZUMA QUAIL behaving just as I had read. This was a nice bird to be number 500! I parked the car at the dam but later realized I could have driven much further. Since it was now 6:00, I decided to jog the remaining few miles. I arrived at about 6:30 and got a great look at a FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW. I also saw a hummingbird with a pastel yellow gorget. Just after the sparrow stopped singing, Brock and Leigh Orwig showed up. I told them where I had seen the sparrow and also told them about the unusual hummer. They offered me a ride back to my car in their 4-wheel drive, but I decided to bird my way back. I’m glad I did because I got my first good look at a ZONE-TAILED HAWK and also saw another LUCY’S WARBLER. Brock and Leigh picked me up along the road after they saw the sparrows and I showed them where I had seen the quail. They told me that they had also run into the photographer in Garden Canyon. Leigh had been more forceful than I had and found out that the camera was aimed at an ELEGANT TROGON’S nest. Brock and Leigh also told me about a pair of SPOTTED OWLS in Scheelite Canyon. After I returned from the trip, Leigh told me that she had learned that the mystery hummer probably just had pollen stuck to its gorget. I raced over to Garden Canyon and stopped at the picnic ground. The photographer had his camera set up again, but there was no sign of the TROGONS. I went up to Scheelite Canyon and learned from some birders that the SPOTTED OWLS were roosting right over the trail, where I easily found them. They appeared to be quite a loving couple. I then returned to the TROGON nest, where a small crowd had begun to form. The male had apparently been in the nest for a few hours. While waiting for it to come out, I got a nice look at another SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER and saw the white patch on the breast of a CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN. After an hour or so, a PAINTED REDSTART flew up near the nest hole and the TROGON popped his head out. Coupling this with the lower half of the female I had seen a few days before, I now had a full ELEGANT TROGON! A few minutes later, the bird came all the way out of the nest and the crowd gasped at its beauty. A few people went overboard and persued the bird as it flew from tree to tree. I don’t see how this nest can succeed with so much disturbance. I returned to Box Canyon Road early on 5/25. This time I saw a BOTTERI’S SPARROW singing! I followed another of Diane’s leads and got a great look at a RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW near the school on White House Canyon Road. I then started to drive into Madera Canyon, where I ran into a couple from New York who pointed out a RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW that was singing. I decided to give Madera Canyon another try and saw another STRICKLAND’S WOODPECKER but not much else. I drove back to the Patagonia Rest Stop hoping to get a better look at the BECARD but had no luck. I stopped at Kino Springs and saw the TROPICAL KINGBIRD that had been reported and got a surprise bonus in the form of an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER. I spent the afternoon at Chino Canyon, where I saw the BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER and a CRISSAL THRASHER.

It was time to get moving, but fatigue had finally caught up to me, and I was not able to make it to Colorado overnight. So I stopped at Hyde SP near Santa Fe, New Mexico on 5/26. The birding was not very good, but I did see a HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER. I spent the morning of 5/27 at Rye Mt. Park and Lake Isabel near Colorado City and saw RED-NAPED and WILLIAMSON’S SAPSUCKER, DUSKY and GRAY FLYCATCHER, and MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER. I was starting to get worried about missing VIRGINIA’S WARBLER, which I had unsuccessfully searched for in Arizona. I decided to spend the rest of the day on a quest for it. I decided to try the Colorado Springs area. I first tried Bear Creek Regional Park and found what must have been the bird, but it was about as hard to see as the BLACK-CAPPED VIREO had been. It finally flew up to an exposed perch to sing. It was a great view and I was quite pleased! The bird flew to another perch in a cute, dainty, little skylarking fashion. I spent 5/28 at Rocky Mountain National Park. I quickly found GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE and BREWER’S SPARROW and saw AMERICAN PIPIT in breeding plumage for the first time. I spent the rest of the day trying to find TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, PINE GROSBEAK, and BLACK ROSY-FINCH. I also tried to find another MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER because the one I had seen the day before only gave me a brief look. All of these quests failed. I spent 5/29 at Pawnee National Grasslands. I got great views of MCCOWN’S and CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS and MOUNTAIN PLOVER. I also saw LARK BUNTING in breeding plumage for the first time. However, I was only able to enjoy this success briefly because the road became muddier and muddier. I had to blast through one area just as I had done to cross the stream going to California Gulch. Near the end of the quagmire, I came to one last challenge, a long stretch of deep mud. I hit it as fast as possible and the car fish-tailed back and forth. By some miracle, I made it out the other side and headed for Billings. I spent a few days catching up on sleep and enjoying Mom’s cooking! On 6/3, I went with my sisters Penny and Lani on a birding trip to Bozeman and Yellowstone NP. Although they were new to birding, they proved to be very sharp at spotting and identifying birds. Our first stop was at Sourdough Nature Trail, where I hoped to get a better look at a MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER. We heard one in the bushes but it would not pop into view. I saw my first LEAST FLYCATCHER and male EVENING GROSBEAK. We later heard what sounded like another MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER, but it turned out to be a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (the first I had seen singing). We then went to the trail by the fish hatchery and had another uncooperative MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER in the bushes. This one teased us by flying back and forth between bushes, but we could not get a good look. We then tried the trail at the ‘M’ Campground for TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE but had no luck. We proceeded to Yellowstone and found TRUMPETER SWAN and BARROW’S GOLDENEYE but had no luck with TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE or PINE GROSBEAK. I got to hear a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET singing for the first time. We spent the night in Cooke City and birded our way back to Billings on 6/4. I saw a VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW perched on a wire in perfect light and got a great look at the violet on the back. We once again missed the birds I wanted, but I was glad my sisters got to see GRAY JAY, CLARK’S NUTCRACKER, and some other nice birds.

My first stop after leaving Billings was Lostwood NWR in North Dakota on 6/6. I first checked out the SHARP-TAILED GROUSE lek. I arrived a bit late and flushed the birds. However, they returned about 10 minutes later, and I got to enjoy watching them display. I also saw UPLAND SANDPIPER, a few flocks of FRANKLIN’S GULLS, and SPRAGUE’S PIPIT. I also saw BOBOLINK, EARED GREBE, and BLACK TERN in breeding plumage for the first time. At one point, I thought I had seen several PIPITS, but then I realized that ones that seemed a bit odd looking were VESPER SPARROWS. I wondered if they had all been VESPER SPARROWS but recalled that one of them had very yellow legs and therefore must have been a SPRAGUE’S PIPIT. Although I searched and searched, I was not able to locate BAIRD’S SPARROW because it was windy and necessary to sort through scores of CLAY-COLORED and SAVANNAH SPARROWS. I made a final attempt to locate BAIRD’S SPARROW at Salyer NWR on the morning of 6/7 but had no luck. The saddest scene of the trip was a CLIFF SWALLOW lying dead in the road. Its mate (?) landed on it and tried to revive it. I stopped to see if the bird was just stunned and placed it off the road so the other bird would not suffer the same fate. I drove toward a region east of Winnipeg that Peter Taylor had recommended for CONNECTICUT WARBLER. After the usual delay at the border, I drove along Rte. 506 north of Rte. 1 near the hamlet of Spruce Siding. The sun was about to set, but I was hoping to get lucky and find the CONNECTICUT WARBLER right then and there. I heard several warblers, saw a GRAY JAY, heard a WINTER WREN singing for the first time, and then heard a RAVEN. However, I blocked out everything in hopes of hearing a CONNECTICUT WARBLER in the distance. I saw a large form move through the woods and figured it was the RAVEN. I kept walking along the road and then saw the large form perched at the edge of the woods. I took a look and it was a GREAT GRAY OWL! I hadn’t held out any hope of seeing this magnificent bird. Here it was within a stone’s throw in perfect view in the sunlight! It alternated between staring me down and looking down at the ground. It seemed to have almost a human expression on its face. I’m not sure if ‘mean’ is the right word to describe it, but the look on its face and in its eyes gives the impression of a king of beasts, warrior, or gladiator. I’m glad I’m not a vole! After about 5 minutes, the bird dropped down and apparently caught something. It mantled it, stared at me briefly, and then flew off. WOW! I slowly drove through the forest as darkness fell and came to a point where I heard a MOURNING WARBLER on one side of the road and a CONNECTICUT WARBLER on the other side, but it was too dark to see them. I spent the morning of 6/8 on the road from Seven Sisters Falls into Whiteshell Provincial Park. I heard several MOURNING WARBLERS along the road but didn’t spend much time trying to see them. My goal was the CONNECTICUT WARBLER! I did a U-turn just before the entrance to the park and was going to drive back to look for a MOURNING WARBLER when I heard what must have been a CONNECTICUT WARBLER singing deep in the spruce bog. I tried to cross the ditch that runs along the road but it was like quicksand. I stepped in and my leg sank nearly to my waist. I grabbed the bank and barely managed to extract myself. I thought about jumping across but decided against it since the ground was mushy near the bank. I found a place to cross about a quarter of a mile to the west. I stepped on weeds and debris on the bottom and only sank up to my thighs. I made my way back to the east and the bird was still singing! I entered the bog, which was like quicksand covered with a carpet. This was actually convenient because I was able to approach the bird silently without scaring it. I could tell I was within about 30 feet of the bird and that it was about 20 feet up a spruce tree. Then I saw the rear end of the bird. It looked right! The bird move slightly and I saw a bit of gray near its head. So far, so good! Finally, I saw its entire head including a bold white eye ring. CONNECTICUT WARBLER! The bird then shifted and gave me a perfect view, but the suspense leading up to this view was quite a treat! I watched this beautiful bird sing for about 10 minutes. At one point, another CONNECTICUT WARBLER replied in the distance. When the bird stopped singing, it dove straight down to the ground. I decided to leave at that point because I didn’t want to stress it. However, part of me wishes I’d have stayed longer to savor it. I then walked across the street and watched a singing MOURNING WARBLER. Birding during migration is wonderful, but I prefer to see birds on their breeding grounds. Why spend 20 or 30 years trying to get a brief glimpse of a migrating CONNECTICUT or MOURNING WARBLER when you can easily get extended views of both up north? I spent the rest of the day driving through Nopiming Provincial Park looking for warblers. I heard several more MOURNING WARBLERS and another CONNECTICUT WARBLER (it was deep in extremely thick brush beyond a quagmire). After a great deal of searching, I finally saw my first CAPE MAY WARBLER (I’m not sure why I had always missed this one).

I spent 6/9 at Kelly’s Slough in North Dakota and Agassiz NWR in Minnesota hoping to see LE CONTE’S and NELSEN’S SHARP-TAILED SPARROW. I saw a possible LE CONTE’S at Kelly’s Slough, but it dropped down in the grass before I could make a positive ID. At Agassiz, I saw the ring on a RING-NECKED DUCK for the first time and saw a RED-NECKED GREBE in breeding plumage but failed to find either of the sparrows. Driving east on Rte. 2, I saw my first COMMON LOON in breeding plumage. I also saw a mystery bird sitting on a telephone wire. It turned out to be a COMMON SNIPE, which I had never before seen from that angle! I spent the morning of 6/10 at McGregor Marsh and Rice Lake NWR. I heard LE CONTE’S SPARROWS in McGregor Marsh and walked out into it and got a great look at one. This helped relieve some of the pain of missing out on BAIRD’S SPARROW. I also hoped for a YELLOW RAIL but didn’t hear any. Immediately upon entering Rice Lake NWR, I heard a MOURNING WARBLER and saw a pair of GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS flying back and forth between two trees. I was excited to hear the song of the GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER for the first time. A short distance down the road, I heard my first RUFFED GROUSE (a bird that had persistently eluded me). My joy came to an end when I realized that my electrical system was dead. A ranger came along and radioed for help and my car was being transported by tow truck for the second time. The problem was simply a bad wire from the battery to the solenoid. However, I had lost two prime hours of birding. By the time I got back to the NWR, things had slowed down quite a bit. I still managed to enjoy the rest of the morning. I saw another LE CONTE’S SPARROW and got my first good look at an adult male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK. While driving through northern Wisconsin on Rte. 2, I stopped at a road that leads north into a refuge. I heard lots of birds and decided to get out and take a look. While walking down the road I startled a bear that was about 30 feet away. I was amazed at the speed (faster than a horse) and force (the ground seemed to shake) with which it crashed through the woods (fortunately in the opposite direction). I had hoped to make it to Mio for the KIRTLAND’S WARBLER tour the next morning, but I ran out of time and energy. So I spent 6/11 at Seney NWR in the Upper Peninsula, which is swarming with NASHVILLE WARBLERS. A birder from Ontario that I met at Agassiz told me that this place is good for YELLOW RAIL. However, I did not find any trace of this bird, and the staff was not aware of any sightings this year. The most interesting sighting of the day was an immature GRAY JAY. I saw it from behind at first and thought it was a ROBIN. When it turned and I saw its dark belly and the white near the beak, I was momentarily at a loss thinking it was some sort of exotic vagrant. I then recalled seeing another immature at Algonquin Provincial Park last year. On 6/12, I took the tour out of Mio led by Doug Munson. We saw a cute baby BLUE JAY on a dirt road begging for food. A short ways up the road, we heard two KIRTLAND’S WARBLERS singing their rich and loud song. We got a quick glimpse of one of them. It was my 50th warbler. We moved further down the road and along an old railbed and got a good extended look at another one. I ended a great trip on the morning of 6/13 in the DC area. I made brief stops in Maryland to see GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and in Virginia to see KENTUCKY WARBLER.

Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Eared Grebe, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, *Magnificent Frigatebird, American Bittern, *Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, *Wood Stork, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, *Trumpeter Swan, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, Mottled Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, *Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, *Swallow-tailed Kite, White-tailed Kite, *Snail Kite, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Harris’ Hawk, Gray Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, *Zone-tailed Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Plain Chachalaca, Ring-necked Pheasant, *Ruffed Grouse, *Sharp-tailed Grouse, Wild Turkey, *Montezuma Quail, Northern Bobwhite, Scaled Quail, Gambel’s Quail, King Rail, Sora, *Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, American Coot, *Limpkin, Sandhill Crane, Black-bellied Plover, *Wilson’s Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, *Mountain Plover, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, *Upland Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Common Snipe, Laughing Gull, *Franklin’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Royal Tern, Forster’s Tern, Least Tern, Black Tern, Rock Dove, *Eurasian Collared-Dove, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, *Monk Parakeet, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, *Mangrove Cuckoo, Greater Roadrunner, *Smooth-billed Ani, *Groove-billed Ani, *Western Screech-Owl, *Whiskered Screech-Owl, *Elf Owl, *Spotted Owl, Barred Owl, *Great Gray Owl, Lesser Nighthawk, Common Nighthawk, *Antillean Nighthawk, Paraque, *Common Poorwill, *Chuck-will’s-widow, Whip-poor-will, Chimney Swift, White-throated Swift, *Broad-billed Hummingbird, *Buff-bellied Hummingbird, *Violet-crowned Hummingbird, *Blue-throated Hummingbird, *Magnificent Hummingbird, *Lucifer Hummingbird, *Black-chinned Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, *Costa’s Hummingbird, *Calliope Hummingbird, *Broad-tailed Hummingbird, *Elegant Trogon, Belted Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, Red-headed Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, *Red-naped Sapsucker, *Williamson’s Sapsucker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, *Strickland’s Woodpecker, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, *Gilded Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, *Olive-sided Flycatcher, *Greater Pewee, *Western Wood-Pewee, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, *Least Flycatcher, *Hammond’s Flycatcher, *Dusky Flycatcher, *Gray Flycatcher, *Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Eastern Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Vermillion Flycatcher, *Dusky-capped Flycatcher, *Ash-throated Flycatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, *Brown-crested Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, *Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, *Tropical Kingbird, Couch’s Kingbird, Cassin’s Kingbird, *Thick-billed Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, *Gray Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, *Rose-throated Becard, Horned Lark, Tree Swallow, *Violet-green Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, *Cave Swallow, Barn Swallow, Gray Jay, Steller’s Jay, Blue Jay, Green Jay, *Florida Scrub-Jay, Western Scrub-Jay, *Mexican Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Fish Crow, Chihuahuan Raven, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Carolina Chickadee, *Mexican Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, *Bridled Titmouse, Tufted Titmouse, Verdin, Bushtit, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Cactus Wren, Canyon Wren, Carolina Wren, Bewick’s Wren, House Wren, Winter Wren, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, *Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Long-billed Thrasher, Curve-billed Thrasher, *Crissal Thrasher, American Pipit, *Sprague’s Pipit, Cedar Waxwing, Phainopepla, Loggerhead Shrike, European Starling, White-eyed Vireo, *Bell’s Vireo, *Black-capped Vireo, Solitary Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, *Hutton’s Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, *Black-whiskered Vireo, Golden-winged Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, *Virginia’s Warbler, *Colima Warbler, *Lucy’s Warbler, Northern Parula, *Tropical Parula, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, *Cape May Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, *Golden-cheeked Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, *Grace’s Warbler, Pine Warbler, *Kirtland’s Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, *Swainson’s Warbler, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, *Connecticut Warbler, Mourning Warbler, *MacGillivray’s Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s Warbler, *Red-faced Warbler, Painted Redstart, Yellow-breasted Chat, *Olive Warbler, *Hepatic Tanager, *Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Western Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-headed Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, *Lazuli Bunting, Indigo Bunting, *Varied Bunting, Painted Bunting, Dickcissel, Olive Sparrow, *Green-tailed Towhee, Eastern Towhee, Spotted Towhee, *Canyon Towhee, Abert’s Towhee, *Bachman’s Sparrow, *Botteri’s Sparrow, *Cassin’s Sparrow, *Rufous-winged Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, *Brewer’s Sparrow, Field Sparrow, *Black-chinned Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, *Five-striped Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Savannah Sparrow, *Le Conte’s Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, *Yellow-eyed Junco, *McCown’s Longspur, *Chestnut-collared Longspur, Boblink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Common Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Orchard Oriole, Hooded Oriole, *Spot-breasted Oriole, Altamira Oriole, Baltimore Oriole, Bullock’s Oriole, *Scott’s Oriole, Purple Finch, Cassin’s Finch, House Finch, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak, House Sparrow