Rockford area Christmas Bird Counts

Here are the dates for various Christmas Bird Counts in the Rockford area. Please contact the compilers to participate (assuming that you have not previously signed up at the Rockford Bird Club meeting in November). If you feed birds and live inside one of the count circle areas, your participation is very welcome and there is no charge! Here they are:

Rockford CBC. Saturday, December 18. Contact Dan Williams at 815-968-4732 or

Rock Cut CBC. Sunday, December 19. Contact Eddie Callaway at 815-323-0011 or at

Whie Pines CBC. Sunday, December 19. Contact Eric Walters at 847-246-4312 or at

Kishwaukee CBC. Wednesday, December 22. Contact Barbara Williams at 815-968-4732 or at

The National Audubon Society charges $5/person/per count for a participation fee to help defray the expense of accumulating and processing the data gathered on the counts. No charge for feeder watchers! If you can particpate, even for 1/2 of a day, please let us know. We can certainly use your help.

Thank you for volunteering.

Waterfowl field trip, Sat. Nov 20

We had twelve participants for this morning’s trip. We started with several locations at Rock Cut State Park, then visited Windsor Lake, Nygren Wetlands and the Howard Farm on Rte. 70.  We finished at about 12:30 with a total of 47 species.

The highlights were six Ross’s Geese at Howard’s Farm. They were in the company of about six Snow Geese, an adult Blue Goose and an immature Blue Goose. Several  flocks of Canada Geese had Cackling Geese mixed in, but also other subspecies of Canada. A flock of about 20 Snow Buntings was seen briefly near the observation deck at Nygren Wetlands.  About 100 Sandhill cranes were seen at Nygren and another fifty or so flew over Howard’s Farm.

The lakes at Rock Cut State Park had three Common Loons, a Pied-billed Grebe, a Horned Grebe, 3 Bonaparte’s Gulls, Bufflehead, Hooded Mergansers, Common Goldeneye and Bald Eagle. But, overall, the waterfowl species diversity was low.

Here’s the morning’s list:

Snow Goose

Ross’s Goose

Cackling Goose

Canada Goose


N. Shoveler

Green-winged Teal


Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Loon

Horned Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Great Blue Heron

Bald Eagle

N. Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Am. Kestrel

Sandhill Crane

Am. Coot


Wilson’s Snipe

Bonaparte’s Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

N. Flicker

Horned Lark

Blue Jay

Am. Crow

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

E. Bluebird

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling

N. Cardinal

Am. Tree Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Snow Bunting

Am. Goldfinch

European House Sparrow

A dull Thursday afternoon

Donna and I decided to go to Edwards Orchard West for some critters, via Rock Cut, Nygren, and some open country. Very little around, it seems. At Pierce Lake our only waterfowl were the always-to-be-expected mallards and Canadas in small numbers and 2 rather interesting ducks too far off to ID even at Questar 60X. There were 4 Common Loons, a 3rd-year Bald Eagle, a couple of Ring-billed Gulls, and 14 Bonaparte’s Gulls.

Nygren was exceedingly quiet. A couple of Hooded Mergs, a few Green-winged Teal, and 20+ snipe, plus a few species not worth mentioning. No cranes or raptors.

Between there and Edwards, we saw only crows, doves, starlings, and Red-tails.

Ross’ Goose and other waterfowl

A Ross’ Goose was among 1400 Cackling Geese at Nieman’s Pond this afternoon. Also present was a Snow Goose and a Blue Goose. Nieman Pond is at the north end of Springfield Road, north of the Kelly Springfield tire plant, on the east side of Freeport.

8 N. Pintails were in the flooded oxbows north of Ridott with a few GW Teal.

Lake Summerset had Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers and an Am. Wigeon besides a small flock of Coots.

32 Green-winged Teal were in the ponds at Howard’s Farm on IL 70.

Cattle Egret

Dan Williams just called (2:20) to say he is looking at a Cattle Egret in a horse pasture on South Bluff Road, about a quarter of a mile north of Rockton Rd. The bird may have been there the past 5 days.

The pasture is on the west side of the road, opposite houses numbered 14015 and 140131. As the pasture slopes away and the bird is at the far end, you will have to get out of your car and stand to get enough elevation to see it.

PS: Dan reports that there are a lot of snipe and a White-fronted Goose at Nygren.

Nygren on Saturday

Barbara and I hiked the loop trail around Nygren Wetlands this morning. The new trail signs look great!

A skin of ice covered most of the still water visible from the observation platform but a variety of puddle ducks was present in the open water to the SE, best viewed from the trail that runs along the east side of the marsh. We counted 9 Wilson’s Snipe, plus 4 Killdeer and 2 Ring-billed Gulls, too.

An immature harrier was working the grassland. Quite a few Fox Sparrows were along the east side near the portajohn. They were mixed in with W/C and W/T Sparrows. American Tree Sparrows were present in very good numbers, but only a few juncos. I heard Snow Buntings fly over.

This evening at dusk, 2 Great Horned Owls were heard from the observation deck, but no Short-eared Owls were seen. The Sandhill Crane numbers are starting to build up.