White-fronted Geese at Howard’s farm

Barbara and I checked the goose flock at Howard’s around 12:30 p.m. today. We counted 250 White-fronted Geese and 12 Cackling Geese mixed in with the Canadas. Lots (9) of Bald Eagles along the Pecatonica River between Ridott, in Stephenson County, and Howard’s.

The fields along the Pec River have a lot of water in them, but, of course, it is all frozen at the moment. Should be good for dabbling ducks and other migrants when the ice melts.

Spotted Towhee is back at Friday’s!

Darrell Friday called us this afternoon to report that the Spotted Towhee was back. It had not been seen since Friday, Feb. 6. It could not be found after the onset of mild weather, but we speculated that it still might be in the area. So it is.

Darrell and Janet are still willing to allow birders to come look for the bird, but, as before, they ask that you call first to be sure that they will be home and to get permission. They especially ask that no one try to visit on Sunday morning. Their number is 815-234-5684.

Gull Frolic Update

URGENT NOTICE – Car Pooling for NCIOS February 21, 2009 Field Trip Canceled

Due to the Winter Storm Warning for Northern Illinois, effective 11 p.m. February 20 through 6 p.m. February 21, and the hazardous driving conditions that are anticipated, NCIOS CANNOT OFFER CAR POOLING TO THE ANNUAL GULL FROLIC at Winthrop Harbor. Therefore, we will NOT meet at 8 a.m. at Menards on Route 173.

However, THE GULL FROLIC IS STILL BEING HELD, for those who wish to attend individually.

White-winged Crossbills at Afton FP & Dixon

I found 2 flocks of White-winged Crossbills at Afton Forest Preserve around 12:30 p.m. today. The first flock of 12 was in the SE corner of Afton. Cross the bridge by the spillway and take the trail straight east. There is a row of conifers that runs E-W there, paralleling the high power lines. At the east end of those conifers, there is another line of conifers that runs N-S along the east side of the property. The flock was at that intersection. The birds were silent but popped right out in the open and flew and landed over my head when I pished. This is the spot where Mike Baum reported WW crossbills on Thursday the 12th.

The second flock of 4 birds was in some White Pines along the exit road where it makes a 90 degree left turn. There is a parking lot there, and they were feeding in a White Pine along the asphalt trail that leads to an enclosed picnic shelter.

39 White-fronted Geese flew over Shabbona Lake SP around 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. They were pretty high up and migrating north.

I also found 9 WW Crossbills in Oakwood Cemetery on the east side of Dixon, just N of the intersection of US 52 and IL 38. It is on the north side of the road. You have to take a side street north from the west of the intersection. Pine Siskins were also there.

Finally, Alan Anderson found a Pine Grosbeak at Kinnikinnick Cons. Area in Boone County on Friday the 13th. It was along the Yellow Trail. I tried to relocate it this morning but was unsuccessful.

Hoary Redpoll at Friday feeder

bird on upper right perch
bird on upper right perch

A bird that is very likely a Hoary Redpoll was seen at the feeder of Darrell and Janet Friday, the same folks who had the Spotted Towhee. See Eddie Callaway’s post about the towhee for their telephone number.

I saw the bird on Sunday, 2/8 and managed to get one photo before the birds flushed. The subject is among a flock of 10 or so birds. It is very pale, with completely unstreaked undertail coverts and belly, and little or no flank streaking along the upper breast. The bird is a male, with a pale rosy wash on the upper breast, much paler than male Common Redpolls. The bill is slightly smaller than the Commons, but the subject does not appear to have a flat, or “pushed in” face as mentioned in some books. I believe that this feature is generally related to the feathering on the lores and face. This bird lacks an all black bib and lores. It only has some black highlights and tips on the feathers where the bib should be, so I suspect that it may be a young male that hasn’t completed a molt.

Please remember to call the Fridays first and obtain their permission before going to look for the bird.

Snowy Owls in LaSalle and Dekalb counties

There are reports of up to 4 Snowy Owls in Dekalb and LaSalle Counties. The Dekalb bird was seen again this afternoon, and 2 of the 3 LaSalle birds were seen both morning and afternoon. The LaSalle bird reported by Cindy McKee southwest of Ottawa was the only bird not reported as being seen today, although it was reported yesterday. Details and directions are on IBET, which can be accessed through http://www.birdingonthe.net /

IOS Gull Frolic Field Trip date change!

The I.O.S. Gull frolic at Winthrop Harbor has been moved to the 21st of February. I’m sorry if this has caused any confusion. We will still be carpooling in there in the morning, and I have flyers with all the info that you can pick up at the next NCIOS meeting on Feb 12th. You can still call Jan Lockwood at 815-289-0751 or me, Barbara Williams, at 815-968-4732 for details on the carpool meeting time and place.