July 2011


A Red-breasted Nuthatch was calling and feeding in our back yard this morning. Not sure how to characterize the species and date-early migrant or breeding bird from May. We had a pair of RB Nuts coming to the feeder throughout May, but haven’t seen or heard one since then until today.

This morning, I received a call from Mike Descamps. He saw and photographed an American Bittern at Rock Cut SP yesterday. Thanks to Mike for letting me know.

This is the time when waders start post-breeding dispersal and begin to wander around. With all of the recent rain, local wetlands are filling up with water, which is likely to attract wading birds.

The water levels at Nygren have been good for shorebirds recently, although the number and variety of species haven’t been good yet.

This evening about 60 White Pelicans were soaring over our house. Others have seen them this summer on the sloughs just south of the Pecatonica River bridge on Meridian Road. In mid-June a smaller group were soaring over the Williams Tree Farm on Yale Bridge Road.

Around 8:35 p.m., Barbara and I were setting up lawn chairs in the parking lot of the Riverfront Museum Center to count the Chimney Swifts that are roosting in the chimney of the old National Guard Armory. The museum center and armory are on Main Street on the west bank of the Rock River just north of downtown Rockford. We spotted a few gulls flying by going upriver (north), which I initially presumed were the Herring Gulls that have been hanging around Rockford between the airport quarry pond and the Rock River almost all of the summer. When we looked at the gulls with our binoculars two of them were Herring Gulls, but one individual was smaller, had a black head, a dark mantle, black primaries, no white between the black primary tips and the mantle, and no white outer primaries. It disappeared from sight behind the Museum Center building.

There is a log jam at the confluence of Spring Creek and the Rock River, about 1 block north of the Auburn Street bridge, where the Herring Gulls have been roosting in the evening, so we headed up there. This location is one block north of Auburn Street along the Rock River. The log jam is best viewed from upper Harlem Blvd. on the west bank of the river. Upon arrival, Barbara immediately spotted the Laughing Gull swimming in the river among the log jam. We didn’t have a scope, and the light was fading fast, but were able to call another birder who lives in the neighborhood (he was at the Armory about to count swifts, too!) so he drove up with his scope. I suspect that the gull will spend the night there and may still be present very early tomorrow morning.

We headed back to the armory and watched hundreds of swifts fly into the chimney until about 9:10 or so.

A single adult Mute Swan was at Four Lakes Forest Preserve on Sunday morning.

Several pairs of Purple Martins are apparently nesting in the Purple Martin nest box located in the middle of the SE pond. The pole which supports the box is leaning at quite an angle, but the martins are using the box anyway. I watched adults catching insects and flying with food to the box, which was concealed from my view by a tree growing on the “island” that used to be in the middle of the pond. Walking to the north brings the box into view.

Ruth Robinson reports two Y.B. Chats seen on Monday evening (July 4) just west of the center at Byron Forest Preserve.

At 1:00 p.m. today, I saw two Mockingbirds together on the chain link fence just east of gate 48 at the Rockford airport. Previous suspicions that there may have been more than 1 are now confirmed.

This morning, while watching the Mockingbird (it flew in and sat on the wire just after we arrived) with Tom Little, Bob Erickson and Al Stokie, I heard a Bell’s Vireo call from the thicket of scrub trees inside the fence just E of gate #48 along Belt Line Road. It wouldn’t show itself for quite a while. After the others left, it called again, so I sat in my car and watched the fruiting mulberry, which looks more like a shrub than a tree. After about 10 minutes, the vireo started to call repeatedly from inside the mulberry, and finally appeared in clear view, where it sang regularly. There are more than 250 Bank Swallows in and over the airport quarry, many of which are recently fledged young. And, adults are still feeding young in nest cavities–many holes still have 2 heads sticking out to beg whenever an adult flies near. From observing the young which are already fledged, and the apparent age of the chicks sticking their heads out of the cavities, I expect that all still in nests will be out of them within few days.