On Friday, April 13, 2018, a storm hit the Great Lakes region and quickly spread to the Northeast. Southeastern Wisconsin saw, in this order: thunderstorms, wind gusts between 45 and 50 MPH, freezing rain, sleet, and finally, heavy wet snow. On Lake Michigan, waves officially topped 15 feet. It seemed to many residents the wind blew harder and the Lake’s waves were higher than official reports. On April 16, a 50-something coworker who has lived next to Lake Michigan all his life remarked in awe: “That was the hardest wind I have ever seen.”
Three days later, that snow is still on the ground as temperatures quiver in the upper twenties. Forecasts predict more snow in the next 36 hours or so. Meanwhile, spring and summer birds are appearing: towhees, goldfinches, redwing blackbirds, cowbirds.
I saw the oddest bird earlier today. It was standing in the snow on the side of the dirt road that winds through the migratory preserve. Its legs were quite short and its bill remarkably long. It was sort of gray on top and rust underneath. The poor little thing was shifting its weight repeatedly from one foot to the other, as if it were cold. It didn’t move when I drove past ever so slowly. I stopped the car and got out to look more closely. It then took brief flight, enough for me to determine it wasn’t visibly injured, and it landed just out of sight. The researched I launched directly upon arriving home tells me the bird was a Virginia Rail. It’s neither rare nor rarely here. It’s just rarely seen.