Lock and Dam 13 field trip report

Only 3 birders turned out for the field trip to Lock and Dam 13 and the Mississippi River yesterday, January 25. The three of us who did were rewarded with over 400 Bald Eagles at Lock and Dam 13, plus an immature Golden Eagle soaring over Hanover Bluff up in Jo Daviess County.

The river itself is completely frozen except for the area immediately below the dams. Consequently, we found no waterfowl on the Mississippi. We did manage to find our only waterfowl species of the day–a single Canada Goose–below the dam on the Apple River in Hanover. A Belted Kingfisher spotted by Anne Straight was a nice bonus.

We drove the roads that were open to the public at Lost Mound but were unable to find a Northern Shrike or Mockingbird. It was really windy there. We did manage to find some Robins in the junipers.

The roads to and from the river were somewhat drifted, depending on their orientation, but on the way back to Forreston, we had some small flocks of Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs and Snow buntings. After we dropped Anne off at her house, Phil Doncheck and I had a nice light morph Rough-legged Hawk along IL 72 just west of Byron. Anne had 2 Eurasian Tree Sparrows at her feeders when we picked her up in the morning.

Perhaps the most unusual sighting of the day was made on the way home from Forreston on IL 72, after dropping off Anne but before we spotted the Rough-legged Hawk. This also involved flight, although at the time Phil and I saw it, it was no longer in the air. We came upon a number of emergency vehicles parked along the shoulder of the westbound lanes of IL 72. A single engine plane had apparently crash-landed in the ag field to the north of the highway. WE hope that whoever was in the plane escaped injury.

Snowy Owls

Up to 3 Snowy Owls are being seen in the southeastern corner of Boone County and far southwestern McHenry County just east of the Boone/McHenry County line. The particular area to look is along Garden Prairie Road south of I-90 up to its intersection with Crawford Road. For 3 days now, a very pale owl, probably an adult male, has been on both sides of Crawford Road with 1/4 mile of its intersection with Garden Prairie Road.

On Thursday, I counted 14 Eurasian Collared-doves in the trees across Garden Prairie Road from the Garden Prairie grain elevator just south of town.

Kishaukee CBC December 21, 2013

I’ve posted our total species for the count day below. We found only  67 species, probably due to the preceding few weeks of cold and snowy/icy weather. Walking was difficult and driving on less-traveled roads presented some sheets of ice that made fast “birding stops” impossible.

In spite of the cold weather there was some open water but very few lingering waterfowl. A new high count of 201 Common Mergansers, found mostly at the Rockford Airport quarry ponds, were a surprise. The Holcomb and Davis Junction grain elevators and surrounding countryside produced a huge increase from last year’s 19 to this year’s 93 Eurasian Collared Doves.

Other highlights included two Saw-whet Owls in the Klehm Arboretum with a third found at Severson Dells. New species for the count were an Eastern Towhee and a Brewer’s Blackbird. A few other woodland birds set new high count records – Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker all exceeded the previous counts.

Many of this year’s species totals fell into the range of normal counts except for the northern finches which were conspicuous by their absence. None were found on count day except for a single Pine Siskin.

Special thanks go out to the counters who did a tremendous amount of walking in spite of the icy conditions under foot. Two thirds of the miles walked on this count were covered by just three teams out of the 13 teams in the field.

The five teams that went out early to search for owls found every owl that was on the count.

The bad news included only one Pheasant, only four Red-headed Woodpeckers and no Purple Finches at all. American Crows posted a miserable 299, but possibly there were too few counters out at dawn or dusk to watch for movement to and from roosts.

We found a total of 15,228 individual birds. We had 31 counters participating in the field, plus 8 feeder watchers.

This was the 24th 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 http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc.  The dates for the Rockford and Kishwaukee counts in Dec. 2014 will be the 14th and the 20th. I hope you can join us.

My thanks to all who helped for your time and effort. Happy New Year to all.

Barbara Williams, compiler

Here’s the list of species found on the count:

Cackling Goose 2
Canada Goose 4186
American Black Duck 4
Mallard 320
Common Goldeneye 15
Common Merganser 201 HC
Ring-necked Pheasant 1
Wild Turkey 83
Northern Bobwhite 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Bald Eagle Adults: 5 Immatures: 8
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Cooper’s Hawk 13
Red-tailed Hawk 45
Rough-legged Hawk 4
American Kestrel 12
Herring Gull 64
gull sp. 3
Rock Pigeon 968
Eurasian Collared-Dove 93 HC
Mourning Dove 683
Eastern Screech-Owl 7
Great Horned Owl 9
Barred Owl 6
Northern Saw-whet Owl 3 HC
owl sp. 1
Belted Kingfisher 9
Red-headed Woodpecker 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker 129 HC
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 8 HC
Downy Woodpecker 163
Hairy Woodpecker 36
Northern Flicker 43 HC
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Northern Shrike 1
Blue Jay 231
American Crow 299 LC
Horned Lark 633
Black-capped Chickadee 405
Tufted Titmouse 52
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5
White-breasted Nuthatch 200
Brown Creeper 100 HC
Carolina Wren 4
Winter Wren 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 36 HC
Eastern Bluebird 45
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 124
European Starling 1145
Cedar Waxwing 164
Yellow-rumped Warbler 4
Eastern Towhee 1
American Tree Sparrow 779
Fox Sparrow 10 HC
Song Sparrow 36
Swamp Sparrow 8
White-throated Sparrow 19
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 1332
Lapland Longspur 200
Snow Bunting 40
Northern Cardinal 367
Brewer’s Blackbird 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
House Finch 276
Pine Siskin 1
American Goldfinch 291
House Sparrow 1277

Mute Swans

Today, January 3, Trip Theinemann called to report that a pair of adult Mute Swans was in the Rock River at its confluence with Spring Creek, just upstream from the Auburn Street bridge in Rockford. The birds are best viewed from upper Harlem Blvd.

On January 1, Tom Little called me to report that he had seen an immature swan in the Rock River just north of the 15th Avenue bridge. He said it was snowing hard so he couldn’t identify it as to species. I drove there and viewed it through my telescope. It was an immature Mute Swan.

Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs

The recent snows have brought many Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs and Snow Buntings to the road shoulders. Today, I drove Kelley Road from Weldon Road to Klinger Road. There were many small (10-30) flocks of birds feeding on the shoulders. Most were larks and longspurs, with a few Snow Buntings mixed in here and there. A Belted Kingfisher was perched on a wire fence that hung over a small stream between Klinger Road and Pecatonica Road. 6 Ring-necked Pheasants were a surprise as they were getting grit and/or seeds along Kelley Road west of Osborne Road.