The Rockford CBC was held on Saturday, December 18, 2010. 37 field observers in 14-18 parties, plus 12 feeder watchers, participated. Overall, the day was relatively pleasant for birding. Temperatures ranged from 5-17 degress F. Wind was mild at 0-10 SW. Snow cover was 4″. In addition to walking and automobiles, particpants also cross-country skied (10.25 miles, 6.5 hours) and went by ATV (6 miles and 3 hours). Still water was frozen, and the rivers were only partly open.
The count recorded 69 species and 15,134 individuals, plus a Spotted Towhee (I’m sorry that the small party staking out the Kehoe feeder was not rewarded that day) in count week. A big “thank you” to Vonnie Kehoe for keeping the wood stove fired up and the hospitality even warmer for the window gazers.
A few highlights: this count exceeded previous totals for Bald Eagle. I eliminated likely duplicates from adjacent territories and still got to 44. This far exceeds the prior record. 18 Cooper’s Hawks squeaked by the old count by 1 (more feeder watchers?). There were large numbers of frugivorous birds. Cedar Waxwings set a new high at 313, while E. Bluebirds and Hermit Thrushes tied their previous high counts, and the 116 Am. Robins were close to their previous high. Many of these birds were feeding on hackberry fruits, which were abundant this year. Other species seen eating hackberries were E. Starling, Red-headed Woodpecker, N. Flicker, and YB Sapsucker. Oddly, no Yellow-rumped Warblers were recorded, but the poison ivy berries seemed diminished.
Other highlights: 3 swan sp. (flying away from the observers), 1 Eastern Meadowlark, 2 N. Pintails, 3 Wood Ducks, 2 Savannah Sparrows, 1 Common Redpoll.
“Lowlights” were only 25 Ring-necked Pheasants (more aggressive agricultural practices are eliminating CRP lands, plus cooler and wetter springs), lower than usual totals of Red-tailed Hawks and Am. Kestrels,
low numbers of Great-Horned Owls (fewer owling parties), a very low number of House Finches compared to prior years and a poor early winter for Pine Siskins.
Thank you to everyone who participated.