Crossbills and Tundra Swans

Today, Doug Stotz from the Field Museum visited Klehm Arboretum in Rockford. Here is his report from IBET:

I went up to Klehm Arboretum in Rockford this morning. It was pretty
birdy and the highlight was both species of crossbill. I had a flock of 6
WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS at about 9:30 (two seen well enough to know they
were females, others not seen until the flock took off) foraging in a small
coned spruce not far west of the visitor center. They flew off to the
north. Then about ten minutes later there was a single female RED
CROSSBILL at the top of a different spruce. It flew off to the east.
Other birds of some interest included 28 PINE SISKINS, 5 RED-BREASTED
AMERICAN ROBINS and CEDAR WAXWINGS in various fruiting trees, but I found
nothing good with them.

Doug Stotz

Andy Sigler and Nathan Goldberg were at Belvidere Cemetery and found a flock of 7 WW Crossbills. I went there later and found 1, an immature, still feeding in the hemlocks in the northwest part of the cemetery near IL 76.

After I left Belvidere Cemetery, I checked the lakes at Rock Cut SP and found an adult and immature Tundra Swan feeding with a flock of Canada Geese and Mallards on Olson Lake.

Rockford Christmas Bird Count tally supper scheduled

For those of you who have missed the annual post-count supper and tally meeting, you will be happy to know that it is back on the schedule! Thanks to the generosity of Sinnissippi Audubon, which is paying for the main courses of food, plus the help of Mike and Deb Eickman and Lee and Lynda Johnson, who are preparing it (chili and sliced ham), we will have a post-count supper this year. Please be sure to thank them when you next see them.

Here are the details: Around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, the Rockford Park District will open Entrance gate #2 at Lockwood Park on the northwest side of Rockford. This is just up the hill (west) from the main entrance. The event will be held in the cookhouse, which is in the park and just beyond the barn. YES, there are bathrooms and heat!!

Dinner will start around 5:30-5:45 p.m., depending on when most folks arrive. (Since I am the compiler and often stay out until dusk at 4:45, it is unlikely that I’ll get there before 5:30. Lynda Johnson and Joyce Armstrong are going to recruit other members of NCIOS to bring some dishes to pass. YOU will need to bring your own plate(s), bowl(s) and utensils, napkins, plus your own beverage. If you would like to bring a dish to pass or a dessert, please contact either Joyce (815-398-2974) or Lynda (815-629-2781) to arrange what to bring. Thank you. See you there!

Redpolls are back in town!

Common Redpolls are beginning to show up at various places around Winnebago County.

Jeff Donaldson reports that he has about 30 coming to his feeder in SE Rockford near Alpine and E. State Street. Sam and Patty Oliveri report a pair at their feeder NW of Rockford. Today, I was at Klehm Arboretum with Travis Mahan, Dave Johnson and Andy Sigler. We had a flock of 12 there.

Red Crossbill flight calls-3 different types!

In an earlier post on November 5, I reported 11 Red and 1 White-winged Crossbill from Greenwood Cemetery. While Barbara and I were there, we were able to approach the birds fairly closely as they fed in the hemlocks, so I recorded their flight calls on my iPhone. I sent the recording to Matt Young at Cornell Lab. He is doing research on Red Crossbill flight calls and vocalizations. He analyzed my recording and sent back a sonogram which demonstrates (this is Matt’s opinion, I haven’t learned how to read them yet) that my recording contained flight calls of #3 type Red Crossbills. Aaron Boone also recorded #3s in Beloit, WI recently, and this type seems to be the most prevalent in northern IL reported to eBird so far.

In addition, Matt worked on the recording further and, on November 19, he emailed to tell me that the recording also had 2 other types of Red Crossbills, 1 of #4 and 1 of #10. He sent sonograms to confirm those calls.

A very interesting article, complete with range descriptions, is available through eBird. Go to the home page for eBird and scroll down to the topic of crossbill flight calls and click on it. It will take you to the full article. You can download the article and all of the calls for free, and you can register for a license number (free) which you can use to download the Raven Lite program to install on your own computer (also free).

So, it would be very interesting, and useful, for those of you who carry smartphones or other devices capable of recording to whip them out and record crossbills when you encounter them. And, if you don’t want to deal with the software, you can email the recording off of your smartphone directly to Matt Young at Cornell and he will run it through the software and tell you what you recorded!

Selasphorus hummingbird (probably Rufous) SE of Rockford

A Selasphorus hummingbird (probably a Rufous, but unsure if it is an adult female or immature male) is coming to a feeder southeast of Rockford. Here is a photo I took this morning.

You can also check IL Birder’s Forum for two more photos.

The bird is coming to the home of Tim and Sue Anderson, 4592 Sable, Rockford. They are willing to have visitors come to view the bird. The feeder is in a shrub next to the front door on the south side of the house and is easily visible from the street. It is approximately 50 feet from the street to the shrub. The shrub has a string of small snowflake lights on it. From Blackhawk Road, turn on to Pathfinder, which is directly across from the entrance to Kishwaukee Gorge Forest Preserve. Take Pathfinder to a T-intersection with Scenic. Turn right on Scenic and go to Weatherford. Turn left on Weatherford and proceed to Sable. The house is at the corner of Sable and Weatherford. It has a flagpole with American and Green Bay Packer flags.

The homeowners are fine with birders coming to look at the bird, but please view it from the street. Permission (if you want to go up on their lawn close to the house to take pictures, an advance call to ask and let them know you are coming) would be very much appreciated. If you would like the phone #, please reply to this email and I’ll reply with the number.

I called Vern Kleen to see if he could come up to band it, but he doesn’t have the time before he leaves on a trip.

More Red Crossbills

Barbara and I had 2 Red Crossbills in the hemlocks by the driveway to Page Park School on Safford Road at noon today.

Around 1:30 p.m., I went to Klehm but did not find crossbills or an Evening Grosbeak that had been reported from there yesterday. There were quite a few Cedar Waxwings and a very large number of Pine Siskins–I counted around 80. I also found Kevin Kaltenbach and Sheryl there!

Birding in Kishwaukee and Blackhawk Springs

On Monday 11-5-12 Joyce and I birded Kishwaukee and Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserves in the morning. We found a Pileated Woodpecker being chased by a small hawk- probably a Sharp-shinnned or Coopers. Also, 20-30 Yellow-Rumped Warblers we spotted. We also, ran across Red-Bellied, Downy, and Hairy Woodpeckers, Brown Creeper, Robins, Immature Bald Eagle, and other common bird species.

Jack and Joyce Armstrong

Bird Hike at Klehm Saturday

Guided Bird Walk

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Join the Sinnissippi Audubon Society for a guided bird hike through the arboretum. Their members will use sight and sounds to identify the many birds at Klehm. Everyone is invited to participate. No registration required. If 9 am is too early, late comers are welcome to catch up with the group.

The walk is included with general admission. FREE to Klehm members and Audubon Society members.