Eastern Phoebes and other migrants, plus Eurasian Collared-doves

Barbara found 2 Eastern Phoebes hanging out on our back deck around 11:00 a.m. today. Killdeer were flying over the house headed straight north, and 2 Sandhill Cranes were soaring, calling and circling very high overhead around Page Park on the northwest side of Rockford.

Mike Madsen called me to report that he saw 3 Whooping Cranes soaring with 1 Sandhill Crane and a Red-shouldered Hawk on a thermal over the prairie on the north side of Rock Cut SP around noon today.

On the evening of 3/27, Sam Oliveri found a pair of Eurasian Collared-doves at the intersection of Tate and Halley Roads, northwest of Rockford. I went there around 3:00 p.m. today and found them flying around the trees at 7102 Tate Road, north of the intersection.

Program Change for April 11th Meeting

The scheduled program for the April 11th meeting, Birding the Far East by Fred Stellema, will be replaced by a slightly different look at birding in the Far East. Barbara and Dan Williams will present a program on birding in Japan in the winter. We’ll look at spectacular birds, some of them in tremendous concentrations. We’ll check out some of the interesting aspects of birding and traveling through a foreign culture, and visit some of Japan’s wonderful birding hotspots.

Thousands of birds today near Pecatonica Illinois

 Today I traveled around Pecatonica Illinois and there was a lot of birds. Over 100 Sandhill cranes, 20 Trumpeter swans, over 50 White Fronted Geese,20 Pintails, 2 Bald Eagles, 5 Northern Harriers, some Greater Scaups, flocks of Robins, Red wing Blackbirds and Grackles. So much more to list, it was a great day. Here are a few images from today.

Swans and geese on Oliver Road

Prompted by a chance meeting with the Freys, who told me that Trumpeter Swans had been seen on Oliver Road yesterday, I drove there and found the Freys and the Browns. They were watching Trumpeter Swans with a large flock of Canada Geese, with a few White-fronted Geese, at the northwest end of the oxbow and corn field on Oliver Road. At first, Joyce Brown and I counted 13 Trumpeter Swans. After the others left, I walked back east to get a better angle into the open water of the oxbow to the north. It was packed with White-fronted Geese and many ducks. In addition, I found 5 sleeping swans on the edge of the pond. After a while, they picked their heads up and revealed themselves to be Tundra Swans. 6 immature Bald Eagles were in the air at once over the bottoms.

I estimated that there were 600 White-fronted Geese. Oddly, there was only 1 Snow Goose mixed in (Blue form). About 20 minutes later, Brad Grover joined me and we kept looking back into the oxbow to the north where it runs through all of the bur oaks. We had up to 17 N. Pintails, 6 Green-winged Teal, 3 Wood Ducks, 7 Ring-necked Ducks, a pair of Lesser Scaup, and many Mallards.

As we walked back to our cars, it was apparent that there were many more Trumpeter Swans than when we started. Brad counted 43 Trumpeter Swans! I have never seen that many in one flock in Winnebago County. A Great Horned Owl is on an old Red-tail nest situated in the bur oaks.

Signs of Spring—An interesting afternoon

Donna and I have been cruising around western parts of Winnebago County every few days, looking for early migrants. 5 Killdeer 2 weeks ago were clearly that, on a day when we saw not much else beyond 300 Horned Larks, with not a single longspur or bunting.

It’s been slow since, but we gave it another go just before noon today. We were spurred on by Operation Migration’s report of 3 Whooping Cranes yesterday afternoon. We didn’t find them, but there was a total of 19 Sandhill Cranes in two groups on Oliver Road, and a few elsewhere.

Robins were widespread, and we saw scattered Red-wingeds, along with a few small flocks. At Four Lakes F.P., a flock of 18 blackbirds was half grackles and half Rusty.

It’s time for waterfowl, but there is very little open water. One exception was the farmer’s pond at 12704 Telegraph Road, where we saw a couple of Ring-necked Ducks, a Greater Scaup, and half a dozen Redheads. A dozen or so White-fronted Geese were on Oliver Road, and flocks of 60-70 were at both 11059 Trask Bridge Road and the end of Theodorff Road.

Raptors: we saw 10 Red-tailed Hawks, and at the end of Anderson Road we found an adult Bald Eagle and a light-phase Rough-legged Hawk. A second one of the latter flew over us on Oliver Road. Most surprising was our total of 16 Kestrels.

Snow is starting to disappear from the fields, so our Horned Lark count was way down from two weeks ago, and again, no buntings or longspurs. But a couple of meadowlarks were our first of the year.

It never got above 26º, and temperatures forecast for the next week are somewhat winter-like, but it’s clear that spring is on the way.

Winnebago County birding

 While out photographing these are a few recent birds of the past days. On Monday afternoon at Rock Cut State Park there was open water at east end and west end of Pierce lake. I saw 4 Greater Scaup and  just taking flight were  8 Common Mergansers. I have also been seeing a Chipping Sparrow for the last few weeks at a private location. Several bluebirds  were seen in CherryValley today.  Female fox sparrow seen yesterday at my feeder.

waterfowl in Ogle County

This morning, I took a drive down the Rock River through Byron to Oregon. A lot of ducks are in the Rock River. I found 12 species of ducks and two species of grebes (2 Pied-billed in Byron and a Horned in basic plumage by the paddlewheel river boat on the north side of Oregon). Most of the ducks were just north of Oregon, starting with the parking lot just South of the paddlewheel restaurant along IL 2. Over 125 Lesser Scaup, 12 Greater Scaup, 75+ Canvasbacks, 46 Redheads, 37 Ring-necked Ducks, 2 Buffleheads, 23 Hooded Mergansers, 12 Common Mergansers, and 2 Ruddy Ducks. On the east side of the island and just north of the dam overlook on the east side were 18 Wood Ducks and a few more of the other species mentioned above. 2 Pileated Woodpeckers and 3 Great Blue Herons were fly-bys. Lots of Robins and Red-wings are lining the exposed shoulders of the roads, and the sounds of calling Killdeer were ubiquitous, plus singing Song Sparrows and 2 Carolina Wrens making “comb tooth” noises-1 in Byron and 1 on the east side of the river north of the Oregon dam.

Ruby crowned Kinglet photographed in Winnebago County

Unusual Rare bird photograph in Northern Illinois winter , Jeff Donaldson and myself were lucky to see a male and female Ruby crowned Kinglet here in Winnebago County in winter this week. Wow ,what a site. This is the male with the ruby crown visible! I have not seen the birds now for a few days. One of North America’s smallest birds, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet can be recognized by its constant wing-flicking. The male shows its red crown only infrequently.  Other highlights this week, 2 Carolina wrens,5 red wing blackbirds, 3 sandhill cranes and several eastern bluebirds.  Check out other new images at David C Olson Photography face book

Merlin feeding on male northern cardinal

 Recently,Jeff Donaldson and I sighted this Merlin feeding from about 1/4 mile away along the Rock River in Rockford Illinois. We were able to get a better view and I was able to get off a few frames of this moment. Notice the feet of the cardinal. Also this day we watched 2 Bald Eagles dive bombing a mallard in the river, the mallard got away after multiple attempts by the eagles. This past week I have seen 3 Sandhill cranes over Cherryvalley Illinois. 2 Carolina wrens,flicker,large groups of snow buntings and Horned Larks and several american tree sparrows also sighted this past weekend.