Golden Eagle seen in NW Boone County

Around 11:00 a.m. today, Andy Sigler and Mike Madsen saw an adult Golden Eagle along Wyman School Road, near Caledonia Road, in NW Boone County. The bird was flying SW, toward the Winnebago County line in the general direction of Rock Cut SP. Don’t know if it was seen in the park, but Andy and Mike were inside the Rock Cut CBC circle when they spotted it.

Rockford CBC-a brief summary

The Rockford CBC was conducted on Saturday, December 17. 35 field observers participated in 15-18 parties, with 11 more at feeders. There were 73 species recorded, which is about 5 over the 10 year average and 25,412 total individuals. I have not yet posted to the Audubon CBC site because they have not completed their work to upgrade the site with the new data entry program. Keith McMullen described the problems he had yesterday on IBET.

Highlights of the Rockford count were, of course, 8 Red Crossbills, 3 White-winged Crossbills, a record number of Pine Siskins, and 1 Evening Grosbeak! We also had a few more species of waterfowl than average, such as Mute Swan (3), Ring-necked Duck, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck and Am. Coot, a Ross’ Goose. 6 Sandhill Cranes at Nygren Wetland Preserve were a new species to the count (count week previously). The moderate late fall temperatures kept some of the still water open, accounting for the waterfowl, plus a light snowfall overnight Friday and into Saturday morning moved some of the field birds toward the roadside and feeders. Good numbers of Horned Larks were counted, plus 444 Lapland Longspurs (345 in one flock) and a handful of Snow Buntings. Single Rusty and Brewer’s Blackbirds were highlights.

Lowlights were ZERO Ring-necked Pheasants!! Last year the count recorded 27, which was a low number, but ZERO? Habitat loss is almost certainly the primary blame for the plummeting decline of this species around here. Fence lines and hedgerows are disappearing rapidly for expanded agriculture planting, and CRP grassland contracts are expiring and not being renewed. So, the predators have a larger advantage on taking the remaining birds. Other misses were Golden-crowned Kinglet, Carolina Wren (last winter was tough on them) Field, Fox and Savannah Sparrows, and Red-winged Blackbird.

No Eurasian Collared-doves were recorded (still not seen on a Rockford CBC) although there is a flock of them in Ogle County just S of the Winnebago County line, but not near NW Winnebago County, where the count circle lies. Kishwaukee CBC ought to get them this year. No unusual owls or gulls were seen.

In contrast to 2010-11, the crop of fruits on Hackberry Trees was much reduced, so Cedar Waxwing and American Robin numbers were substantially lower than last year, but E. Bluebirds set a new count high with 38.

Rock Cut gulls

At 8:45 this morning, I walked down to the shoreline from the parking lot at West Bay, and scanned 180 degrees, west to east. Due west, I saw an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. Scanning around to the east, there were many small groups of gulls standing on the ice, totaling approximately 70 Herring Gulls and 15-20 Ring-billed Gulls. I drove to the boat launch area 15 minutes later, but the LBBG was no longer there. There were no gulls or geese at the east end of Pierce Lake.

White Pines CBC

Yesterday, Barbara, Kevin Kaltenbach and I were teamed up on the White Pines CBC. All teams recorded a total of 63 species.

Our team recorded 6 E. Screech-owls, a Merlin, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 2 Cooper’s Hawks, 3 Great Horned Owls, 2 NOrthern Shrikes, 7 Golden-crowned Kinglets, 2 Ruby Crowned Kinglets, 14 Brown Creepers, 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2 Carolina Wrens, 1 Red-headed Woodpecker, 3 Pileated Woodpeckers, lots of E. Bluebirds, and the expected 2 species of gulls.

Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scoter @ Rock Cut SP

Yesterday, Ari Shavit posted to IBET that he saw a Long-tailed Duck and Surf Scoter on Pierce Lake at Rock Cut SP. Andy Sigler called me this morning to report that the birds were still there. Andy also saw an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull standing on the ice offshore from the concession stand by the boat launch on the south side of the lake. He said that the bird flew off around 9:00 a.m.

Tagged Red-tailed Hawk at Rock Cut SP

A few days ago, I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk with white wing tags at the Olson Annex of Rock Cut SP. The tags are white with black numerals 133. Anne Straight and others had seen a tagged Red-tail there about a week or so earlier, but Anne was unable to read the wing tags.

Anne furnished me with an email address for the O’Hare airport project which is capturing and tagging Red-tails in that area, then releasing them to other places.

Today I received a reply that the Red-tail which I saw at Olson Annex was trapped and tagged at O’Hare on October 14, 2011 and released at Rock Cut SP. The project would like updates if the bird is seen again. Please report future sightings to craig.k.pullins@aphis.usda.gov

Rufous Hummingbird in Sterling (Whiteside Co)

An adult female Rufous Hummingbird is coming to a feeder at 908 Seventh Avenue, Sterling.

Bob and Andrea, the homeowners, have given birders permission to view the bird from their side yard. The feeder is in the side yard on the east side of the house. It is on a hook attached to the trunk of a very large tree just in front of a orange-brown fence. The bird perches in a bush below a window on the east side of their house or in the top of a young tree growing in the parkway in front. Please do not go closer to the feeder than a line running east from their front porch. That is, don’t go N of the front porch if it was extended east. Pictures will be hard to get from there, but that is the way it goes.

They may have a guest book out. Please sign it. It will be an eye-opener for them, and a lot of interest to their children, to see how far birders will come to see this bird in their yard.

Good luck.

Common Loon at Rock Cut SP

A Common Loon was on Pierce Lake at Rock Cut SP today around 12;30 p.m. Mixed in the goose flock was a Snow Goose, and many Cackling Geese, 2 pairs of Black Ducks, plus miscellaneous C. Goldeneye, 1 Bufflehead, 3 Ruddy Ducks, several Common Mergansers and 2 Hooded Mergansers. The only gulls were Ring-billed.

A Red-tailed Hawk with white shoulder tags (black numerals “133”) was in a tree along the driveway to Olson Lake parking lot. This is probably one of the birds that was trapped, tagged and relocated from the O’hare airport project.

Crossbills at Greenwood Cemetery, Rockford

Yesterday, John Longhenry posted on IBET that he saw 2 White-winged Crossbills at Greenwood Cemetery in a large flock of Siskins feeding in hemlocks N of the chapel near one of the small circles along the driveway. This morning, Beau Schaefer, a birder from Round Lake, called to report 1 WW Crossbill and 2 Red Crossbills from the same spot. Barbara and I headed over there around 0830 and met Mary Kisamore and John Longhenry. We had a flock of 6 White-Winged Crossbills. I had a Red Crossbill fly over while I was a distance from the group and the bird was headed toward the chapel, but we couldn’t relocate it. There are 50-60 siskins there feeding in the hemlocks.