Kishwaukee CBC – 23 Dec 2017

Thank you all for your efforts on behalf of the Kishwaukee CBC.

Mild weather on count day made for easy walking and relatively comfortable birding. But, like the Rockford count one week earlier, the abundance of open water to our north probably allowed waterbirds to stay to our north. Waterfowl were in short supply. The lack of snow cover meant that Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs were really hard to find, and birds were not concentrated at feeders. Numbers were lower than normal for most species.

We had particularly low numbers of American Robins, gulls, waterfowl, open country birds and most of the sparrows. We always worry about the low numbers of Red-headed Woodpeckers. Expected in small numbers but completely absent from the count were Ring-necked Pheasant, Common Redpoll and Lapland Longspur.

We had a some notable highlights. Four calling Trumpeter Swans circled the Rockford Airport quarry, Red-breasted Nuthatches seemed to be everywhere and blew away the previous record high count of 48. Pine Siskins also set a record. Owls came through well thanks to several early birders who collectively walked more than six miles before dawn searching and listening. We found more Carolina Wrens, Winter Wrens and Golden-crowned Kinglets than normal.

The final tally was 70 species and 16767 individual birds. We had 28 counters participating in the field, plus 4 feeder watchers.

Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count

25 Cackling Goose
2726 Canada Goose
4 Trumpeter Swan
1 Wood Duck
7 American Black Duck
1145 Mallard
8 Common Goldeneye
15 Common Merganser
59 Wild Turkey
5 Great Blue Heron
38 Bald Eagle (27 ad., 11 imm.)
3 Northern Harrier
2 Sharp-shinned Hawk
12 Cooper’s Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
56 Red-tailed Hawk
3 Rough-legged Hawk
4 Ring-billed Gull
14 Herring Gull
2 gull sp.
700 Rock Pigeon
49 Eurasian Collared-Dove
279 Mourning Dove
9 Eastern Screech- Owl
10 Great Horned Owl
6 Barred Owl
3 Northern Saw-whet Owl
6 Belted Kingfisher
2 Red-headed Woodpecker
148 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
181 Downy Woodpecker
43 Hairy Woodpecker
28 Northern Flicker
4 Pileated Woodpecker
11 American Kestrel
1 Merlin
242 Blue Jay
394 American Crow
8 Horned Lark
286 Black-capped Chickadee
23 Tufted Titmouse
70 Red-breasted Nuthatch
208 White-breasted Nuthatch
50 Brown Creeper
6 Winter Wren
4 Carolina Wren
7 Golden-crowned Kinglet
85 Eastern Bluebird
37 American Robin
2 Hermit Thrush
5408 European Starling
165 Cedar Waxwing
1 Snow Bunting
19 Yellow-rumped Warbler
431 American Tree Sparrow
1 Chipping Sparrow
8 Fox Sparrow
1385 Dark-eyed Junco
2 White-crowned Sparrow
30 White-throated Sparrow
8 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
1 Eastern Towhee
289 Northern Cardinal
346 House Finch
23 Purple Finch
1 Red Crossbill
192 Pine Siskin
290 American Goldfinch
1132 House Sparrow

Total species – 70

Total individual birds – 16767

My County Big Year

This year I decided to have a go at a county Big Year. I consulted with some of the luminaries in the county, and found that no one had done this before. I did know of a few day records, but no more. So asked what a good total would be, and was told 130. I would miss a few weeks because of trips to Colombia and the UK (2). With that in mind I set to. A big thanks to all those who tipped me off to various birds throughout the year: John Longhenry , Dan and Barbara Williams, Lee and Lynda Johnson, Joel Neylon and Phil Doncheck. Although the year is not quite done, I do not see my total improving. It stands at 242. I know Dan Williams is there about.  My list abides by ABA rules.

Although this was a successful year, I did miss a few species: White-rumped and Upland Sandpipers, Yellow-headed Blackbird, marbled godwit, Surf Scoter, White-winged crossbill and cattle egret. As far as I know, no-one saw hooded warbler in the county.

Highlights were many; night herons in winter, northern shrike ( a poor year for them),  a late Pine Grosbeak in April, American Bittern and calling Least Bittern (both new county birds), red-necked (2) and Wilson’s phalaropes (5+), black-necked stilts ( 5th county record), Caspian Tern, Neotropic cormorant ( first county record found by John Longhenry and myself), Brewer’s blackbird, Virginia rail, Le Conte’s , clay-colored, and Henslow’s sparrow, American golden plover ( new county bird for me). Finally finding sedge and marsh wrens after much trying. Managing to find cerulean warbler, which is getting more difficult every year. Catching up with the winter finches; good numbers of pine siskin, purple finches, red-breasted nuthatches and one red crossbill, merlin and both swans. The year ended with a bonus snowy owl shortly before my first UK trip. Another has been found as I write this.

An eventful year, with many good birds in the county, this was a good year to do this. Although I am happy with my total, I know it can be beaten.

Rock Cut CBC

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Rock Cut CBC this year. We did have a very cold day and in general the consensus was that most of the birds weren’t moving making it very difficult to find them. I don’t have all of the lists in yet but here are a few early highlights that turned up.

A few Screech Owls turned up in the northern areas.
A Saw-whet Owl at Kinnikinnick Creek CA.
A Merlin at O.O. Stimes outside of Capron.
A Shrike on the Kishwaukee.
Horned Larks were also found by some of the teams.

I will post more when I have the rest of the lists in.

Rockford Christmas Bird Count 2017-2018 results

All of the field and feeder reports have been received.  This is the first time that I have had all of the bird lists within 7 days of the count.  Thanks to all who were so diligent and cooperative in completing their reports and getting them back to me.  Using the internet has sped up the process by at least 50%.

Here are some highlights:

76 species, which is about the average of the last 5 years.

Unusual species:  3 Trumpeter Swans, 69 Bald Eagles (new count high), Merlin, 2 E. Phoebes (1st records on this count in 65 years, and new count high), 6 owl species, including 1 Saw-whet (but no Snowy), 18 Pileated Woodpeckers (new count high vs. 13), 5 Winter and 2 Carolina Wrens,  1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 11 Yellow-rumped Warblers (new count high vs 7), 19 White-crowned Sparrows (new count high vs 6), 1 Eastern Towhee, 277 Pine Siskins (new count high).

Red-bellied Woodpecker (225) and Red-breasted Nuthatch (75) missed a tie with their previous high by 1.

No Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings or Northern Shrikes were recorded.  Waterfowl species and numbers were also very low.  The count of House Finches was only 204 vs our state record all-time high of 806 set in 2009.  The crest of that wave has passed.

Rockford Christmas Bird Count Results
16 Dec 2017
3 Snow Goose
17 Cackling Goose
6788 Canada Goose
1 Mute Swan
3 Trumpeter Swan
1 Wood Duck
3 American Black Duck
558 Mallard
1 Lesser Scaup
99 Common Goldeneye
2 Ruddy Duck
11 Ring-necked Pheasant
98 Wild Turkey
20 Great Blue Heron
69 Bald Eagle (34 Adult, 35 immatures) (high count)
2 Northern Harrier
2 Sharp-shinned Hawk
10 Cooper’s Hawk
99 Red-tailed Hawk
4 Rough-legged Hawk
1 Wilson’s Snipe
2 Ring-billed Gull
14 Herring Gull
539 Rock Pigeon
1 Eurasian Collared-dove
513 Mourning Dove
4 Eastern Screech- Owl
10 Great Horned Owl
12 Barred Owl
1 Long-eared Owl
2 Short-eared Owl
1 Northern Saw-whet Owl
14 Belted Kingfisher
63 Red-headed Woodpecker
225 Red-bellied Woodpecker
4 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
210 Downy Woodpecker
62 Hairy Woodpecker
48 Northern Flicker
18 Pileated Woodpecker (high count)
13 American Kestrel
1 Merlin
2 Eastern Phoebe (high count)

374 Blue Jay
394 American Crow

408 Black-capped Chickadee (high count)
24 Tufted Titmouse
75 Red-breasted Nuthatch
281 White-breasted Nuthatch
57 Brown Creeper
5 Winter Wren
2 Carolina Wren
2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
50 Eastern Bluebird
4 Hermit Thrush
14 American Robin
1453 European Starling
123 Cedar Waxwing
11 Yellow-rumped Warbler (high count)
915 American Tree Sparrow
3 Fox Sparrow (high count)
1514 Dark-eyed Junco
19 White-crowned Sparrow (high count)
43 White-throated Sparrow (high count)
50 Song Sparrow
9 Swamp Sparrow
1 Eastern Towhee
400 Northern Cardinal
1 Red-winged Blackbird
1 Brown-headed Cowbird (high count)
204 House Finch
11 Purple Finch
277 Pine Siskin (high count)
368 American Goldfinch
851 House Sparrow
17,745 total birds

76 species, plus 1 count week.

Winter nature walks in Boone Cty

I just found out about a series of interpretive hikes being hosted by the Parks and Conservation Foundation on several properties owned by the Boone County Conservation District and sponsored by a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Some of these sites are not generally known and one of them is not open to the public yet, but I can say from my personal experience that these are all excellent birding sites that are definitely worth a visit.

The hikes will be:
1 Saturday January 6th 1:00 PM
Ballard Farm Conservation Area on Shaw Rd between Newburg and State.
2 & 3 Saturday February 3rd 3:00 PM & 5:00 PM
Ipsen Rd Conservation Area on Ipsen Rd south of Newburg
Newburg Village Conservation Area which is connected to Ipsen Rd CA
4 Saturday March 10th 10:00 AM
Kishwaukee Valley Conservation Area on US 20 east of Belvidere
5 & 6 Saturday March 24 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Piscasaw Fen Conservation Area on Norris Ln outside of Capron

The focus of each of these hikes will vary but each will offer a good look at the conservation efforts at each site as well as the plants and animals occurring at each site.
RSVP is required, if anyone would like to sign up for one of these, call 815-547-5711
If there are any questions you will want to direct them to Dan Kane at

Some Rockford CBC birds of note

At least 4 field teams and several feeder reports are still pending.  Here are some of the early highlights:

1 Short-eared Owl @ Ferguson FP, a Saw-whet Owl near Howard’s;

57 Red-headed Woodpeckers in the Pec River bottoms

Ruby-crowned Kinglet near Shirland;

Merlin and E Phoebe @ Atwood Homestead FP;

Wood Duck in Rock River; L Scaup and 3 Snow Geese at Westlake; 2 Trumpeter Swans; Ruddy Duck & 80 C. Goldeneyes in a private quarry in Roscoe area;

Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count to be held Saturday Dec 23

A post from a few days ago gave a species count from one territory of the Rockford CBC that was held on Dec. 16. It was incorrectly labeled as from the Kishwaukee CBC.  It has been corrected.

Please note that the Kishwaukee CBC is still set for Dec 23.

Apologies for any confusion.