Northern Shrikes, migration notes

Today, I found an adult Northern Shrike at LIB Conservation Area in Boone County. It was hunting over the marsh on the SE corner of Newburg and Ipsen Roads. It caught an insect and a small rodent (probably some kind of vole-it had a short tail) in the 10 minutes I watched. When I returned home, there was an email from Patty Oliveri reporting a Northern Shrike hunting over the field west of their house earlier today.

There were large flocks of blackbirds moving today. I encountered one along US 20 just E of Distillery Road that had ~1000 birds in it. Most of them were cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds in fairly equal numbers, with about 150 each of Rusty Blackbirds and grackles. Another large flock flew over our house this afternoon; these were mostly Red-wings, but there were definitely some Rusties in there, too.

We had a Scarlet Tanager at our water feature on Friday, 10/19. Ths is on the late end of the migration for that species. With this mild weather, there are likely other late lingerers.

Harris’s Sparrows are turning up along the Chicago lakefront in larger than usual numbers. We should keep an eye out for them here, particularly in flocks of White-crowned Sparrows.

If a cold front moves in behind the storms, as predicted for Thursday, it may be good for migrating raptors.