Redpolls, Crossbills at Klehm Arboretum

I walked the full loop at Klehm from 12:00-1:00 p.m. today. I found the flock of Common Redpolls at the west end of the west loop in the birch catkins. They responded to pishing and came to perch at the top of a spruce, then returned to the catkins to feed. I counted 35 of them. A pair of Red Crossbills were calling while flying over, but I never located them perched. There was a lot of bird activity in the sun, particularly in the protected areas on the south side of the more dense plantings and on the south side of the visitor center. At the Center, birds were coming in to drink water from the gutter on the south side of the building. I saw 3 male E. Bluebirds, 9 Pine Siskins at the feeder (the feeders are being filled now) and 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers by the cedar stand just SW of the Center along the paved trail.

Longspurs Galore!

I needed to make a suet run to Eickman’s in Seward this afternoon, so I took the “Longspur Highway”, better known as Kelly Road, from Meridian Road to Pecatonica Road. I anticipated that yesterday’s snow would bring a lot of birds to the roadside, and my expectations were not disappointed.

The first few flocks were small numbers of Horned Larks, which was normal. However, about 1 mile W of Meridian Road, I started to find “small” flocks of birds that were mostly Lapland Longspurs, but with a few Horned Larks mixed in. The first two flocks had 100-125 birds in them, and 90% of the birds were Lapland Longspurs, the rest Larks. At one point, I had a flock of ~ 300 birds, again almost all longspurs with a few Horned Larks.

On my return, I had a megaflock of longspurs (~600) with 1 (I am not making this up) Snow Bunting, and a handful of Horned Larks. There were also flocks of 100-150 longspurs on Winnebago Road north of US 20, Harrison Road between Auburn and IL-70, and on Safford Road, just west of our house. Again, no Snow Buntings in any of these flocks. More longspurs were along Cunningham Road west of Hoisington, plus a very nice male Northern Harrier. Again, no Snow Buntings.

My total for 1.5 hours in the Seward/Winnebago area was about 1100 Lapland Longspurs, 50 Horned Larks, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Red-tails, and 1 Harrier.

This area bears repeated checks for longspurs and Snow Buntings.

Bong S. W. A. field trip

Dear NCIOS members,

I am sorry that I have to cancel the field trip to the Bong SWA in Wisconsin that was to take place tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. I am in a descending spiral with a terrible cold that I have caught.

Additionally, there was a report of a Short-eared Owl about two weeks ago from Bong and none since then.

The prospect of seeing no owls and passing my cold around, while I feel terrible, is unappealing. Thank you for your understanding.

Before last night’s bird club meeting was cancelled, Dan and I planned to hand out results of the Rockford and Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Counts to the people who participated in the counts who we believed were likely to attend the meeting. We will put those reports in the mail tomorrow. If you have not received a report yet, and you helped with a count, you will receive a report soon.

Steve Gent’s program that he was going to present at last night’s meeting will be moved to the February 9th meeting and his program that was scheduled for the February 9th meeting will be moved to the May 10th meeting.

Thank you all. I hope interesting birds are coming to your feeders.

Barbara Williams

Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count results

Every year is different, and it’s interesting to see how bird numbers vary from year to year. I would not have guessed that by Dec. 31, 2011 we would have had no snow cover and only moderate episodes of freezing temperatures. The count day was foggy all morning but the temperature was normal, there was no rain and the wind held off until late in the day.

We found a total of 19,257 individual birds, which is well within the normal range. The species total of 68 is good, but not record-breaking. We had 34 counters participating in the field, plus 4 feeder watchers. Only 3 parties went out early to look for owls.

We missed finding any Pheasants, Swamp Sparrows or Meadowlarks. The conditions seemed promising for finding Killdeer and Snipe, but none were reported. Pileated Woodpecker eluded us and we completely missed Longspurs and Snow Buntings, probably due to the lack of snow. Horned Larks showed up in very small numbers probably also due to the lack of snow. Where were the Wild Turkeys? Only 4 were seen! Raptors in general were probably less active and harder to see due to the fog so their numbers are down.

Highlights included an American Pipit, new for the count. Single individuals of Saw-whet Owl, Harrier, Winter Wren, Common Redpoll and a Grackle at a feeder boosted our totals and brightened the day for some folks. The Eurasian Collared-doves found in Holcomb, near the southern limit of the count circle, were new for the count, although they were seen during the count week last year.

Waterfowl still had access to lots of open water so we found some ducks (Red-breasted Merganser, Canvasback, Pintail, Snow Goose, Tundra Swan and Gadwall) and a lot of Cackling Geese that would normally have been pushed out by the ice. The open water allowed the Bald Eagles to spread out giving us only 10 eagles.

This was the 22nd year of the Kishwaukee count. You can see the results of this count, and all of the others, at the National Audubon Society’s website at

The dates for the Rockford and Kishwaukee counts in Dec 2011 will be the 15th and the 22nd. I hope you can join us.

Thanks to all who helped out for your time and effort.

Barbara Williams

Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count Results
31 Dec 2011

2             Snow Goose
138        Cackling Goose
7353     Canada Goose
1             Tundra Swan
4            Gadwall
20          American Black Duck
1616      Mallard
5            Northern Pintail
1            Canvasback
6            Common Goldeneye
19          Common Merganser
1 Red-breasted Merganser
4            Wild Turkey
3           Great Blue Heron
10         Bald Eagle (8 ad, 2 imm)
1            Northern Harrier
1            Sharp-shinned Hawk
8           Cooper’s Hawk
32         Red-tailed Hawk
1            Rough-legged Hawk
16          American Kestrel
59          Ring-billed Gull
16          Herring Gull
773       Rock Pigeon
9            Eurasian Collared-Dove
168       Mourning Dove
4            Eastern Screech- Owl
8           Great Horned Owl
6           Barred Owl
1            Northern Saw-whet Owl
13          Belted Kingfisher
2            Red-headed Woodpecker
72          Red-bellied Woodpecker
2            Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
129        Downy Woodpecker
34          Hairy Woodpecker
29          Northern Flicker
102       Blue Jay
1722     American Crow
28         Horned Lark
541       Black-capped Chickadee
71         Tufted Titmouse
1            Red-breasted Nuthatch
191       White-breasted Nuthatch
64         Brown Creeper
4           Carolina Wren
1           Winter Wren
6          Golden-crowned Kinglet
20        Eastern Bluebird
14        American Robin
2311    European Starling
1          American Pipit
98       Cedar Waxwing
21        Yellow-rumped Warbler
207     American Tree Sparrow
17        Song Sparrow
13        White-throated Sparrow
4          White-crowned Sparrow
1252    Dark-eyed Junco
374      Northern Cardinal
1           Common Grackle
12         Brown-headed Cowbird
3           Purple Finch
283     House Finch
1           Common Redpoll
91         Pine Siskin
269       American Goldfinch
967       House Sparrow

Redpolls at Klehm; shrike NW of Rockford

Around 2:15 p.m. today, I found a flock of 37 Common Redpolls at Klehm Arboretum in Rockford. The birds were feeding on Birch seeds at the far west end of the west loop trail. Also in the vicinity were 10 Cedar Waxwings. Waxwings are scarce at Klehm this winter, the likely result of a paltry fruit crop on the crabapples.

Around 3:30 p.m., I saw a Northern Shrike along Halley Road about 1/4 mile E of its intersection with Meridian Road, northwest of Rockford. This bird has been reported to be around that area since December 10 or so.

A few Snow Geese persist at Howard’s farm on IL 70. There are many Cackling Geese there, too. I did not try to count them. The Grover/Whitney team reported 161 from there on the Rockford CBC on December 17.

Kishwaukee CBC

In spite of the widespread grumbling about the paucity of birds for the Kishwaukee CBC yesterday, the species total for the count is climbing steadily. Although it was quite foggy in the morning, we were fortunate that there was no precipitation and the wind held off until late in the day.

My off-the-cuff prediction on the day’s birding is that when all the teams have reported we will find that the species total will be high and the number of individuals will be low. I may have to eat those words, but all the water was open which meant that the waterbirds were scattered but late-lingerers had not been pushed out by ice. Similarly, the lack of snow cover meant that the land birds were spread out but the lingerers were still around. Some species, like American Tree Sparrows, were in short supply, possibly because most of them are still farther north. We haven’t had any really harsh weather, and neither have the areas north of us. Semi-hardy birds are quite well represented so far on the reports that I have received – Golden-crowned Kinglet, Y. B. Sapsucker, Flicker, Carolina & Winter Wren, Harrier, Cowbird, Grackle, Yellow-rumped Warbler and the like.

Raptor numbers seem low, so far, probably due to the fog.

Documentation is in progress for the first Am. Pipit ever found on the count!

I’ll post in more detail when I recieve the rest of the reports. Thanks to all who volunteered and participated!

Happy New Year to All!

Barbara Williams