While doing a bird survey near the confluence of the Kishwaukee and Rock rivers this morning, I spotted a flock of 18 White Pelicans circling as they slowly moved up the Rock River. Yesterday, I was told that there have also been some pelicans in the Rock River in the Roscoe area.

Migrants and new species are only trickling in slowly. Today I had my first Winnebago County House Wrens, but they were everywhere I stopped, including Kilbuck Bluffs FP and Anna Page Park. Barbara and I found a Palm Warbler in Anna Page Park this afternoon while scouting for her wildflower walk that will take place this evening, weather permitting. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers seem to be everywhere now, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which have been moving through for a while, are now singing a lot. A Brown Creeper was still in Page Park along the creek.

Two male Yellow-throated Warblers were in the trees opposite the large picnic shelter at Kilbuck Bluffs around noon today. They weren’t singing, though. Just making chip notes.

Jeff Donaldson reports that David Olson had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at his feeder “a couple of days ago.” That is pretty early: about two weeks ahead of the average arrival.

Shorebirds are still in short supply. Most numerous are Wilson’s Snipe. On Monday, I found 13 in the fluddle at Eddie/Knapp Roads, 3 on Oliver Road, and 5 at Winters. There were probably a lot more at Winters, but I didn’t have time to walk a long way down the levee.

All counts have been received for Winnebago County for this year’s Midwest Crane Count, held on Saturday, 4/12.    This year, we had 22 counters at 15 sites.  Only two sites didn’t hear or see any cranes.  Reports included 16 unison calling pairs reported, three on nest, and 49 individuals, for a total of 84 Sandhill Cranes.  Thanks to all who participated this year!

Oh, and a new yard bird for me last Saturday–a winter wren probing around stacked firewood!

This morning (4/22) I drove through Rock Cut to see if I could see/hear any Yellow-throated Warblers. I heard one calling from the area near the maintenance driveway entrance off of the loop road on the south side of Pierce Lake. This has been a regular area for this species in prior years.

Happy Earth Day!

I birded Rock Cut from 11:30 a.m. To 1:00 p.m. On Thursday, April 17. New arrivals were Louisiana Waterthrush (2), Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2), and Broad-winged Hawk (1), all along the creek below the dam at Pierce Lake.

Pierce Lake still had loons(4), Horned (5) and Pied-billed (47) grebes, Double-crested Cormorants (3), and Osprey (4), plus a mixture of ducks. Fishermen flushed most of the ducks over to Olson Lake.

Great Egret, Bonaparte’s Gull at Pierce Lake- 7 Double-Crested Cormorants at Olson Lake, also 1 Lesser Yellowlegs.

Around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening (tonight) Jeff Donaldson and I arrived at the Rochelle Intermodal Ponds after an unsuccessful search for a pair of Whimbrels that had been reported earlier in the afternoon near White Pines SP. Jeff was the 1st to spot a male Yellow-headed Blackbird (there were a couple of others, too). Pretty rare bird in Ogle County.

On closer fronts, Tom Little reported a Western Meadowlark at Bell Bowl, by the Rockford airport. It was still there around 11:00 today. And, Kilbuck FP was full of Hermit Thrushes and a couple of Winter Wrens at noon. No Yellow-throated Warblers or Carolina Wrens were heard or seen during my visit.

Many thanks to those that participated in this year’s Midwest Crane Count last Saturday.  Results are still coming in, but 26 signed up this year to participate!

I pinch hit this year at Pecatonica River Forest Preserve.  Weather was beautiful at 5:30am–54 degrees and calm.  I am SO glad the wind and hail didn’t arrive until a few hours later!  I heard three distinct groups of cranes calling from the observation deck, but all out of sight.  Calls were heard from the SSE, South, and Southwest, with the last group being the most distant.

Upon arrival, I was greeting by a great-horned owl and three barred owls.  Highlights were a singing winter wren at the observation deck and a singing ruby-crowned kinglet near the boat launch.

Joyce and I were joined by Kevin Kaltenbach with our winter coats for some mid-day birding at Rock Cut State Park and Bauman Park.  We found a total of 47 species in about 3 hours.  Notable observations were 4 loons – one at Bauman and the rest at Rock Cut, 6 Horned Grebes,  about 75 Pied-billed Grebes, 2 Buffleheads, 1 Sharp-Shinned Hawk, 1 Osprey (near nest platform), rafts of Coots, Killdeer, many Yellow-Shafted Flickers, 1 Eastern Phoebe, Many Tree Swallows, 5 Brown Creepers, 2 Eastern Bluebirds, 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, about 15 Yellow-Rumped Warblers, 2 Tree Sparrows, 2 Field Sparrows, 1 White-Throated Sparrow  and 5 Song Sparrows.  Blowing snow, cold temperatures, and north winds didn’t help the birding.

Jack Armstrong

This morning, I checked several Winnebago County spots for shorebirds. Oliver Road had both species of yellowlegs (small numbers) and 2 Wilson’s Snipe. Ferguson Forest Preserve had 4 Greater and 13 Lesser Yellowlegs, 5 Pectoral Sandpipers, and 3 Wilson’s Snipe.

Ferguson still has a lot of water in the marsh, but the levels are dropping. Most of the ducks today were puddle ducks, with fewer than 10 Ring-necked, only a pair of Lesser Scaup, and 6 Hooded Mergansers (all hens).

Rusty Blackbirds are in small numbers at all of the swamps where I stopped: Oliver Road, Ferguson, Meridian Road north of the Pec River (on the east side) and the loop area at Sugar River FP.

30 Lapland Longspurs were along the roadside at Knapp & Eddie Roads.

Joyce and I found 2 pair of sandhill cranes on Sat. morning at Lou Cambier’s.  We also had a Brown Thrasher, Sora Rail, many Song Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, Juncos, Red-Tailed Hawk, Mallards, Winnowing Snipe and others.  It was probably the warmest count day we have ever had.

Jack Armstrong

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