1000 Snow Buntings in Boone County

I happened upon a very large flock of approximately 1000 Snow Buntings in
the far SE corner of Boone County this afternoon during a lunch hour cruise
through the open farmlands there. I also managed to spy 3 Lapland Longspurs
among the boiling buntings on both sides of the road. The flock was along
Hill Road between Davis School Road and Pinegar Road (DeLorme spells it
Pineger but the road sign spells it Pinegar). DeLorme 19, C-5.

recent falcon reports in Rockford

I have received reports of Merlin and Peregrine in Rockford. Both were seen within the last week. Thought that I would post them so others could be looking at these spots.

Jack and Joyce Armstrong saw a Merlin on Saturday, January 23, at Blackhawk Park.  It was in a tree in the area of the parking lot by the old quarry face along the river. 

A Peregrine has been seen periodically in the area of the Faust Landmark high rise residences.  It was on a communications tower nearby.   Peregrines show up in that area from time to time.   They have also been seen flying in the direction of downtown Rockford in late afternoon.  Any tall building or tower could have one perched on it. 

There was another report of the Prairie Falcon along Lowden Road, about 2 miles N of Nachusa Grasslands, on Tuesday of this past week.  No reports since.

Rock Cut CBC #2 – Recap

The weather was frigid yet sunny. We had 11 counters (down from 19 the previous year) but still covered a good deal of ground. We found 11 new species for the count area bringing the two-year total species to 58.

We managed to find all seven species of area woodpeckers which is always a cool triumph especially in winter. A Peregrine Falcon was a nice addition as well.

Waterfowl numbers were WAY down do to hardly any open water which also explains the major decrease in Canada Geese numbers.

Full list of birds:

American Crow – 92
American Goldfinch – 49
American Kestrel – 4
American Robin – 2
American Tree Sparrow – 92
Bald Eagle – 2 (1 ad 1 imm)
Black-capped Chickadee – 142
Blue Jay – 37
Brown Creeper – 8
Canada Goose – 1,138
Cedar Waxwing – 25
Common Goldeneye – 2
Cooper’s Hawk – 3
Dark-eyed Junco -154
Downy Woodpecker – 37
European Starling – 576
Hairy Woodpecker – 7
Horned Lark – 25
House Finch – 45
House Sparrow – 598
Lapland Longspur – 3
Mallard – 140
Mourning Dove – 118
Northern Cardinal – 90
Northern Flicker – 1
Owl Sp. – 1
Peregrine Falcon – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 3
Purple Finch – 3
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 15
Red-headed Woodpecker – 1
Red-tailed Hawk – 10
Ring-billed Gull – 1
Rock Pigeon – 149
Rough-legged Hawk – 1
Snow Bunting – 5
Swamp Sparrow – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 3
White-breasted Nuthatch – 37
White-throated Sparrow – 1
Wild Turkey – 10
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 2
Eastern Bluebird – 2
Ring-necked Pheasant – 1

Total Species: 44
Total Individuals: 3,637

Website Upgrade Update

I am in the process of upgrading the website/blog for NCIOS so things will look rather funny/different for a day or two (hopefully not longer and most likely shorter). There’s a high probability that your user password (for those who post) was reset and hopefully emailed to you automatically. You will have to update the password or if that doesn’t work I can manually issue a password and then you can change it.

Otherwise, you are free to post away as normal and I will be working on getting everything looking the way it should again (all the posts “should” be there but with export/import some could have been lost).

The main site of NCIOS (the non-blog portion) should be 100% good at this time.


Eddie Callaway, NCIOS web administrator.

Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs

I finally found some Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs in Winnebago County. There was a flock of approximately 250 birds on Kendall Road between Cunningham and Kelley Roads. Near the Cunningham (north) end of Kendall, a farmer has spread manure in a field along the east side of Kendall, and that is where i found the flock.

Approximately 200 Snow Buntings and 50 Lapland Longspurs.

Afternoon drive on Saturday

Barbara and I took a drive around SW Winnebago County (Kelley and Cunningham Roads between Pecatonica Road and Meridian Road. We were looking for Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs. We found zero, and only a few (15) Horned Larks.

Figuring that these birds might be hanging around fields where farmers have spread manure, we went to Eddie and Telegraph Roads, where the farmer often has fresh manure in the field on the NE corner. No manure, no birds.

Undaunted, we headed for Fish Hatchery Road and drove it back toward Winnebago Road. Nada, except a lot of ice fishermen at 4 Lakes and a lot of starlings at the NE corner with Winnebago Rd.

Finally, we drove to Bill Hoople’s to see what was in the creek. Mostly Mallards and Canada Geese (plus a domestic goose and 2 Mute Swans) but we were finally rewarded with a Wilson’s Snipe.

Is anyone seeing any Snow Buntings or Lapland Longspurs in Winnebago County? If so, please post. Thanks.

Varied Thrush still in Forreston

I haven’t seen anything posted here yet, so I thought that some readers who don’t follow IBET might be interested to know that a Varied Thrush has been coming to a feeder (well, backyard-she is putting out fruit) at Anne Straight’s house in Forreston. She lives on 5th street (?), on the SW edge of town. It is a two story white frame house with an old cement farm silo in the back. You can park in her driveway and walk around the front of the house to the area along the back deck (follow the footprint trail). The thrush is mostly under the conifer furthest to the right as you look west, but sometimes it is in other bushes in the yard. Dress warmly! You might have to stand there for a while.

Merlin at Anna Page Park

Yesterday, Jan. 8, Barbara saw a male Merlin fly out of Anna Page Park and cross Safford Road toward the Berean Baptist Church. It circled around and returned toward the SE area of the park, where the tall pines and spruces are located. This is the same area where she found one on the Rockford CBC in 2008. If you are out in this direction, please report any Merlin sightings.

Kishwaukee CBC

After last year’s Kishwaukee CBC almost anything would have seemed like a wonderful birding day. But, really, this year’s count was pretty slow. We had some slippery roads in the morning and some tough walking with the layer of frozen crust and ice under the fresh snow. The substantial accumulation of snow on the ground and the steady snowfall all morning meant that the birds were keeping a low profile. There was not much open water so the number of waterbirds was down.
We found a total of 59 species and 13,090 individual birds. Both numbers are low. The average number of species for the last ten years is 63. The average number of individual birds for the last ten years is 24,108.
We spent fewer than the usual number of hours in the field partly due to the fact that we had a smaller number of participants than normal. We only had 24 counters participating in the field, plus 6 feeder watchers. Just 2 parties went out early or late to look for owls.

Most species were found in lower than normal numbers. The exception was the roadside birds of open country – Horned Lark, Lapland Longspur and Snow Bunting. They were pushed to roadsides in good numbers by the snow cover. We completely missed White-crowned Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Pine Siskin and Black Duck. However, new count records were set by small margins for Eastern Bluebird with 15 and Snow Bunting with 424. Two Peregrines set a new record and 28 Bald Eagles tied a record set four years ago. When this count started 20 years ago, we commonly missed Bald Eagle entirely. Those big boys have become pretty common in a short time span!


1633 Canada Goose

195 Mallard

13 Common Goldeneye

10 Common Merganser

12 Ring-necked Pheasant

38 Wild Turkey

28 Bald Eagle (8 ad, 20 imm)

2 Sharp-shinned Hawk

10 Cooper’s Hawk

65 Red-tailed Hawk

6 Rough-legged Hawk

8 American Kestrel

2 Peregrine Falcon

16 Ring-billed Gull

14 Herring Gull

704 Rock Pigeon

341 Mourning Dove

1 Eastern Screech- Owl

5 Great Horned Owl

2 Barred Owl

4 Belted Kingfisher

4 Red-headed Woodpecker

102 Red-bellied Woodpecker

187 Downy Woodpecker

27 Hairy Woodpecker

9 Northern Flicker

1 Pileated Woodpecker

183 Blue Jay

3463 American Crow

551 Horned Lark

365 Black-capped Chickadee

40 Tufted Titmouse

6 Red-breasted Nuthatch

149 White-breasted Nuthatch

62 Brown Creeper

1 Carolina Wren

1 Winter Wren

6 Golden-crowned Kinglet

15 Eastern Bluebird

11 Hermit Thrush

21 American Robin

902 European Starling

362 Cedar Waxwing

1 Yellow-rumped Warbler

262 American Tree Sparrow

3 Fox Sparrow

6 Song Sparrow

5 White-throated Sparrow

750 Dark-eyed Junco

211 Lapland Longspur

424 Snow Bunting

451 Northern Cardinal

1 Common Grackle

5 Brown-headed Cowbird

1 Purple Finch

265 House Finch

171 American Goldfinch

951 House Sparrow