Rock Cut SP on 12/24

Barbara and I took a couple of hours to scout our territory for Wednesday’s Rock Cut CBC. We started at Pierce Lake, which is mostly frozen except for an area of open water at the west end of the lake near the small rocky island. Among the Canada Geese and Mallards were 12 Gadwall, 4 Lesser Scaup, and 2 Am. Coots. 1 Ring-billed Gull was on the ice with 5 Herring Gulls. Below the dam, we spotted 2-3 American Black Ducks in the creek.

A Northern Shrike was perched in the top of a tree near the parking lot at Olson Lake. It flew across the road to the tree line that is south of the dog training area, where it still perched at the top of a tree. Olson Lake is completely frozen.

A sample cruise through open country between Rock Cut and Candlewick Lake revealed mostly Horned Larks, with 1 Snow Bunting. These birds were in manure that had been spread in fields of dairy farms. A Brown-headed Cowbird was at a feedlot with hundreds of Starlings and House Sparrows on Kelly Road.

Candlewick Lake is frozen.

Just before we left our house, a flock of 60 Sandhill Cranes flew over the house headed south.

Rockford CBC report

The Rockford CBC was held on December 15, 2012 in a steady, persistent rain that lasted all day. The rain was compounded by winds that gusted up to 24 mph, making observation difficult and conditions very unpleasant for the counters. Nevertheless, 40 counters in 12-17 teams braved the elements to help count.

Final totals, pending the receipt of 1-2 more feeder forms, are 72 species, 22,221 individuals. Highlights were new count highs for Sandhill Cranes (38 at Nygren) and 12 Tundra Swans, seen by a couple of groups in the west and southwest parts of the circle. 3 Carolina Wrens tied the count high. 4 Red Crossbills were also seen in a small stand of tamaracks on Ingersoll Golf Course. 57 Rusty Blackbirds were a nice total, and there was a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet found in the vegetation inside the dog area at Searls Park. Lows were American Crows (302), Horned Larks (50), and several species of woodpeckers. I suspect that the weather conditions kept many cavity-dwellers inside their holes. The lack of snow cover kept Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks away from the roadside. A mixed flock of ~200 birds seen inside the circle during count week were not able to be relocated on count day.

Misses included Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Rough-legged Hawk, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-rumped Warbler and White-crowned Sparrow.

Thank you to all who participated. I will be sending an email report out to the participants for whom I have an email address in the next week or so. If you are looking at this report, I almost certainly have your email address already. Next year’s count will be held on Saturday, December 14. Please save the date.

Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count

Thanks to all who counted birds today,

This time, the weather was great, and the birds thought so, too!
For now, we have reports of a Hoary Redpoll in with a group of ninety or so Common Redpolls, a Gray Catbird, Hermit Thrushes and Fox Sparrows all at the Klehm Arboretum. We’ve also recorded a Ross’s Goose along Condon Road, Rough-legged Hawk just east of the intersection of Centerville Road and Simpson Road. Two groups of three Sandhill Cranes perked up the day, as did a few Northern Harriers.
In addition to the group in Holcomb a second group of Eurasian Collared Doves has been found in Davis Junction.
Carolina Wrens were along the Rock River by the 15th Avenue Bridge and Blackhawk Park.

The Rufous Hummingbird at Anderson’s feeder was seen by Sue Anderson at 7:00 a.m. and thereafter by several others who stopped by to check the feeder, so it was well-recorded for the count, a new Kishwaukee count species!

I’ll report more on the Kishwaukee Count as the reports come in from all the teams.

Thanks again,


Lesser Black-backed Gulls

Barbara and I did some scouting in the Kishwaukee CBC circle this morning and one of our stops was at the landfill on Lindenwood Road. We found 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Barbara picked out an adult and, while we were watching that one, I spotted a 1st cycle LBB that flew into the swarm.

The snow cover has brought flocks of open field birds closer to the road edges. We had several flocks of Snow Buntings numbering 50-80, plus Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks. Barbara spotted a large falcon flying low and fast across an open field at the intersection of IL 72 and Mulford Road on the east edge of Monroe Center, but, by the time I could get out of traffic and stopped on the shoulder, the bird was gone and we could not relocate it.

Short-eared Owls

On Saturday, December 15, Martin Kehoe checked the Winters’ wetland conservation area in Shirland at dusk. He spotted 3 Short-eared Owls flying over the marsh there, so we have them recorded for the Rockford Christmas Bird Count. Martin went back there yesterday, December 17, and, moving further back along the levee, found a total of 7-3 nearer to the road and 4 in the back.

Tonight Barbara and I met Martin there and saw two.

Snowy Owl report from last winter (no current sighting)

Recently, I learned that a Snowy Owl was killed on March 23, 2012 at the Rockford airport as the result of being hit by an airplane. The airport reports wildlife/aircraft collisions to the FAA wildlife strike website.

The specimen was being held by the airport staff in a freezer until it was transported to a museum. I have the specimen and have arranged to transport it to Field Museum in Chicago, where the staff can run some tests on it and, perhaps, salvage parts for the collection. It is not in condition to mount as a display specimen.

The bird had a band on its leg. I reported the band to the Banding Office and today received a certificate which contained the banding information. It was banded just 2 days earlier in Boone County, near Rockford, on March 21, 2012. I do not recognize the name of the bander. Last winter, a Snowy Owl was reported from Boone County on the Great Backyard Bird Count, which was held around February 19-21, 2012. I have no idea if that report was in the area where the bird was banded on March 21.

Snowy Owls are beginning to show up in IL this winter, including reports from Bureau, McLean and Will (today) Counties.

Hummmingbird identified! Immature female Rufous

Today, Vern Kleen drove to Rockford to trap and band the selasphorus hummingbird that has been coming to the Anderson feeder since mid-November. It is an immature female Rufous. For details, and to see John Longhenry’s photos, go to the following site on Illinois Birder’s Forum. John also has photos on his Flickr account.;topicseen#new