Friday, May 08, 2020

By Joanne Mengel

About the only good thing I can say about this quarantine situation is that it’s given me a chance to watch the slow transition to spring in my yard. I’m learning to appreciate the little things. For instance, last night I saw my first hummingbird of the year, and it was so exciting! Those tiny birds again made the long trek from their winter home back to my hummingbird feeder. Surely, that means spring is finally here, right? Well, I’m holding out hope that it will warm up soon.

I’m enjoying watching the bird feeders in my yard. It’s pretty rewarding - simply put out a little bird food, and “they will come.” Everything from little yellow finches to those annoying red-winged blackbirds. Try sitting outside and just listening. It is amazing what you can hear in your own backyard. Not sure what bird you’re hearing? The library has a great audio CD, Birds of Wisconsin. Check it out and listen to the amazing sounds of 110 of Wisconsin's most common birds on two CDs.

Birds of Wisconsin CD is a companion to the handy little guidebook in the library’s collection, Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide by Stan Tekiela. The book is filled with color photos and packed with information.

Want more? Search the library’s online catalog for other bird books. Here are a couple of great examples:

There are many places in Wisconsin that you can view birds in their natural habitat. The book Wisconsin's Favorite Bird Haunts: A Guide to 1100 of Wisconsin's Most favored Locations for Birding, with maps by Daryl D. Tessen is a great resource for bird watching.

Did you know that Fond du Lac was home to one of the greatest wildlife painters of all time? Owen Gromme spent more than 20 years working on his book, Birds of Wisconsin, a pictorial representation of all birds known to live in Wisconsin. The pages are filled with lush portrayals of Wisconsin birdlife, and the attention to detail is amazing.

My mother-in-law was a big Gromme fan and coveted any prints she could get her hands on. Born in Fond du Lac in 1896, Gromme spent his childhood in the marshes and forest of east-central Wisconsin, including Horicon Marsh, surrounded by abundant wildlife. His first professional job was as a taxidermist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Later, after serving in World War I, he went to work at the Milwaukee Public Museum, where he was curator of birds and mammals. His reputation as a painter of wildlife enabled him to bring attention and action to important conservation issues such as legislation to protect birds, the protection of the Horicon Marsh and the formation of the International Crane Foundation. Gromme served as president of the Wetlands for Wildlife organization and was among the first to crusade against the use of chemicals. If you’d like to read more more about this amazing man, check out the library’s copy of The World of Owen Gromme by FDL author Michael Mentzer.

Are you going stir-crazy indoors? Looking for outside activities to do with the kids? Good news: Hobbs Woods county park reopened on May 8. About 3 miles south of Fond du Lac, Hobbs Woods is a heavily wooded 60 acres with prairie, Parsons Creek and 3 miles of nature trails. It’s home to a multitude of birds and other wildlife. When visiting Hobbs Woods, visitors are asked to follow the Safer at Home guidelines of social distancing. Users are also asked to respect the park by staying on existing trails, carrying out what they brought in and parking in the paved lot and not on Hickory Road. Remember to bring binoculars!

Lastly, here are a couple of websites I’ve found helpful in my quest for bird info:

Joanne Mengel is a proud member of the Reference Department and loves to read.