Kites nesting in Rockford

This post offers news and makes a request for assistance.

There are two nests of Mississippi Kites under construction by two different pairs of birds. Construction of the first one probably began on 12 May. The second nest was under construction on 20 May, and from its size then, my guess is that it was started around the 17th. The males are building, with females often perched nearby, not always on a conspicuous perch. The birds frequently call to each other.

First, a bit of history. In 2008, the first Rockford kite nest was found in a deciduous tree at Bloom School. A nest was found in 2009 in a pine near Luther and Pioneer. A nest was found last year in a pine tree near Buckingham and Fairview Court, and we have reason to believe that the same nest tree was also used in 2009. (It is not being used this year.) All of these nests were located just before birds fledged and left them; none were located during construction.

In addition to adult birds seen those years, the following birds were recorded:

2008: 1 fledgling
2009: 1 fledgling, 1 subadult
2010: 3 fledglings, 1 subadult male

No subadults have yet been seen this year.

There are more details at http://tinyurl.com/2010-MIKI.

Rockford appears to be in the vanguard of a significant Mississippi Kite range expansion. We can contribute useful information about this expansion by monitoring population size and changes here in Rockford. It is difficult to differentiate individual adults—we can’t mark them—so the best way to be sure of a minimum population size is to associate them with nests. Your observations can help with this, but only if you report them.

Kites soaring in the sky feeding (or whatever) cover a wide area and don’t indicate where nests might be. The nests located so far were found by cruising streets in the morning, between 6 and 10, listening for kites, and hoping to catch sight of low-flying birds. Nest-building occurs primarily in the morning, around 6 to 10, before birds go out to feed. If you see or hear low-flying / calling birds in an area, please let us know where that is by calling me at 815-877-6229 or Dan Williams at 815-979-8335. We think that the extended Bloom School area in which kites might be nesting is bounded by Highcrest and Rural on the north and south, and by Parkview and Chelsea on the west and east. I believe that last year, in addition to the spots where young birds were found, kites could have nested, successfully or not, just south of Guilford near Woodlane, and west of James near Barrington Place.

Sunday morning @ Sugar River FP (Winnebago Co.)

Jack Armstrong, Russ Cline and I met at Sugar River FP this morning to look for the Yellow-crowned Night-heron (didn’t see it) and migrants at the forest preserve. We had mixed results.

There were very few warbler species or individuals. Not even the Prothonotary pair or one of the Yellow-throated Warblers was vocalizing. There were quite a few flycatchers, including a pair of Acadians. I heard a distant Yellow-bellied, and there were a lot of Great Crested and pewees calling and seen. A Pileated Woodpecker was making a lot of noise with drumming and vocalizing just downstream, a Broad-winged Hawk adult flew in a perched in good view while calling repeatedly for about 5 minutes. A Red-shouldered Hawk called from across the river to the west.

From there, we headed to Oliver Road, where the shorebirds were almost non-existent. A single Least Sandpiper was the only non-Killdeer/Spotted.

The only place we had shorebirds was a flooded field along Telegraph Road just East of Pecatonica. We had about 20 peeps, including 5 Semipalmated Sandpipers with the remainder being Least. There were also 2 Semipalmated Plovers there, and a pair of copulating Spotted Sandpipers.

We ended the day at the flooded fields north of Ridott, where, you guessed it, there were almost no shorebirds. We did find a single Lesser Yellowlegs.

After Jack headed home, Russ and I finished at Nieman Pond, where there was an adult Bald Eagle and a pair of Ring-billed Gulls. Between all of us, we managed to find around 90 species for the morning.

NCIOS Rock Cut SP field trip report

At the last meeting, it was decided to do a field trip to Rock Cut SP. No leader was assigned. 7 of us showed up by the dam parking lot at the pre-determined hour of 0730 and just took a mosey down the trails below the dam. It was raining lightly, so umbrellas were open. By 1000, several people had to leave, but 4 continued over to the Hart Road parking lot on the west side.

A total of 76 species were recorded, although I am including a couple I heard while driving in on the north entrance road before we met, like Cerulean Warbler.
Highlights included Wilson’s, Canada, Magnolia, Blackpoll, and Blue-winged Warblers, both Alder (5) and Willow (3) Flycatchers, and a White-eyed Vireo. Some of the 4 at Hart Road also had a very brief look at a Swainson’s Hawk that soared toward, and then banked away, from us as we were standing on Hart Road in the equestrian parking lot area looking and listening to the WE Vireo. I got a very brief look before it disappeared behind the trees in the hedge row and continued to fly away from us to the south, so the views from behind weren’t particularly good. A large buteo, with long wings that were pretty pointed, thin in proportion to that of Red-tail, held in slight dihedral. My brief look included a the underwings, with the dark flight feathers on both wings in contrast to off-white underwing coverts. When last seen, it was moving south and disappeared behind a tree line.

A lone Ruddy Duck was on the lake. 4 Spotted Sandpipers flew by, and 2 Ring-billed Gulls were on the rocky island until they were flushed off by fishermen in a boat.

No Olive-sided, Acadian, or Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Bell’s Vireos, Yellow-breasted Chats or cuckoos of either species were recorded.

Spring bird sightings

I have been birding at the Winnebago Forets Preserves this past week. Sightings included are 7 Indigo Buntings, rose breeasted grosbeaks, Eastern Meadowlarks and Lincoln sparrows at Kieselburg. Scarlet Tanagers,RedStarts, Magnolia warblers,northern Parulas,cerulean warblers,palm warblers and 2 black throted green warblers were spotted at Pecatonica wetlands. After watching a blue heron fishing for over 2 hours, I was able to capture this heron catching a northern pike , what a battle it was. The northern actually pulled the herons head underwater for several minutes in a struggle. Then carried it to shore and swallowed it whole.

Connecticut Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch

Barbara and I went for a walk in the woods this morning. Although the birds were subdued and not calling a lot, we had an excellent view of male Connecticut and Canada Warblers. There was a flock (5) of Red-eyed Vireos. The most numerous warbler species was Chestnut-sided. A bonus was a Red-breasted Nuthatch calling and then coming to the sunflower feeder.

Love Birds sighted in Kane County on Sat.


These two love birds were sighted at St. Charles Borromeo Church on Sat. 5-14-11. There were many vocalizations during the viewing. After a display of caring for each other, many of the observers left and once again found the pair at Village Hall Banquets in Union Illinois. The couple were observed feeding each other cake, dancing with each other and various others. Many vocalizations and songs were observed. Digit holding and wing(arm) enfolding occurred. Many instances of bills(lips) touching occurred. The behaviors went on and on into the dark of the evening. The pair are going on a migration flight to Hawaii soon. While in Hawaii, they will be looking for many bird species. After some time the pair will return to Illinois, and nest in the northern part of the state.

Jack and Joyce Armstrong

Mississippi Kite update

We can confirm multiple kites now in Rockford. A female sitting this morning in the large dead tree behind 3004 Buckingham is a second bird. Around 9:20 I saw 3 birds soaring south of the U of I College of Medicine, and 10 minutes later there were three, probably the same birds, soaring south of Bloom School. Lone birds were seen frequently between 9:15 and 9:45.

As I did last year, there is a map I will be updating showing MiKi information, that you can access at http://tinyurl.com/2011-MIKI. (Last year’s map can be seen here.)

There is a pair of Red-tailed Hawks that perch in the neighborhood, and if this year is like previous years, Cooper’s Hawks are probably around.

In case you did not check IBET, there were 3 other lone kite sightings yesterday in the Chicago area.

Rock Cut SP on Thursday, 5/12

Spent 75 minutes at Rock Cut on my way to the office this morning. Highlights were 4 Cerulean Warblers, 2 White-eyed Vireos, 1 Philadelphia Vireo, 1 N. Parula (heard) 1 Hooded Warbler, and 1 Black-billed Cuckoo.

The Ceruleans were calling from their “usual” spot just N of the dam by the 1st parking lot, plus at the Plum Grove Nature Preserve plus from the oaks on the ridge above the creek as you walk west on the hard surface trail.

The W-E Vireos were at the junction of the hard surface trail and the first dirt path to the north below the spillway.

The cuckoo was calling from the ridge above the stream.

It was also nice to see Margy Rand and the cars of two other birders in the dam parking lot! congrats to John Longhenry on finding a N. Parula!