22 Dec 2018 Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count results

Birding was generally very slow on the count. I believe that the gentle temperatures and the lack of snow allowed the birds to stay dispersed and probably many were still north of their usual winter range, especially waterfowl.
We had high counts of Eastern-screech Owl, with 9 to tie the record, and 12 Barred Owls, breaking the old record of 8. The old record of 50 White-throated Sparrows was bumped up to 54 this year. A vocal Eastern Meadowlark and a “count week” Northern Shrike were nice surprises.
Low counts were throughout the waterfowl, only 2 Pine Siskins (!) and, surprisingly, no Fox Sparrows, Sharp-shinned Hawks or Rough-legged Hawks. Winter roadside birds, Horned Larks, Longspurs & Snow Buntings were in short supply.
The star of the count was the Cape May Warbler that Joel coddled for several weeks at his backyard feeders, just inside the edge of the CBC circle. The bird has continued to hang on and is still present as I write this. It will probably be a long time until there is another Cape May on a local CBC.
7500 starlings at the Edson Road landfill were quite a show. It is hard to get a grip on that many birds and hard to get a good estimate of the numbers.

The final tally was 62 species plus one “count week” Northern Shrike. We had 31 counters participating in the field, plus 4 feeder watchers. The list of all species is at the end of this post.

This was the 29th year of the Kishwaukee Christmas Bird 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.

At the risk of yammering on and on, I want to share a brief illustration demonstrating the value of your volunteer effort on the CBCs:

Many of you know that we have been participating in the Baudette CBC in Northern Minnesota for more than thirty years. In the early years, American Crows & Rock Pigeons could only be found in tiny numbers around the grain elevators in town. About 15 years ago Starlings and House Sparrows started to show up in small numbers in town, and a couple of House Finches appeared at feeders. In the last couple of years Crows, Starlings, House Sparrows and Rock Pigeons have been found in substantial numbers in town and have spread out to the farms in the countryside. This year our most unusual birds were Mourning Dove, Junco, Brown Thrasher, Red-bellied Woodpecker and American Robin – all more southern birds that were unheard-of on those CBCs 30 years ago.

The CBCs give a picture of the changes in bird populations over large regions and over spans of time. Any one year, or one CBC circle, may show a few interesting occurrences, but their real importance is that when taken in the aggregate the CBCs give valuable insights into the changing patterns of bird movements, ranges and population densities. 

SAVE THE DATES!  The next Rockford CBC will be held on Dec.14, the Kishwaukee CBC will be on Dec. 21. We hope you can join us for both counts.

On a personal note,  I’ve organized and compiled this count for fourteen years and it is time to hand it over to someone else. I am looking for someone to replace me as the compiler of the Kishwaukee CBC. If you have an interest in getting more involved or organizing a count, or if you know someone who does, please drop me an email. It doesn’t require special skills or great computer ability, just an interest in local birds and birding.

Thanks again for all your time and effort. Have a very Happy New Year!

Barbara Williams, compiler


Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count results

6          Cackling Goose

1855    Canada Goose

70        Mallard

6          Common Goldeneye

28        Common Merganser

60        Wild Turkey

3          Great Blue Heron

30        Bald Eagle (15 ad., 15 imm.)

11         Cooper’s Hawk

71        Red-tailed Hawk

21        Ring-billed Gull

225      Herring Gull

1          Thayer’s/Iceland Gull

1000    Rock Pigeon

62        Eurasian Collared-Dove

417      Mourning Dove

9          Eastern Screech- Owl

11         Great Horned Owl

12        Barred Owl

2          Northern Saw-whet Owl

9          Belted Kingfisher

1           Red-headed Woodpecker

155      Red-bellied Woodpecker

3          Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

178      Downy Woodpecker

35        Hairy Woodpecker

28        Northern Flicker

7          Pileated Woodpecker

15        American Kestrel

1          Peregrine Falcon

CW      Northern Shrike

186      Blue Jay

486      American Crow

40        Horned Lark

322      Black-capped Chickadee

25        Tufted Titmouse

29        Red-breasted Nuthatch

211       White-breasted Nuthatch

29        Brown Creeper

4          Winter Wren

2          Carolina Wren

3          Golden-crowned Kinglet

58        Eastern Bluebird

237      American Robin

5          Hermit Thrush

9116     European Starling

259      Cedar Waxwing

20        Snow Bunting

6          Yellow-rumped Warbler

1          Cape May Warbler

296      American Tree Sparrow

998      Dark-eyed Junco

2          White-crowned Sparrow

54        White-throated Sparrow

16        Song Sparrow

351      Northern Cardinal

1          Eastern Meadowlark

9          Brown-headed Cowbird

300      House Finch

22        Purple Finch

2          Pine Siskin

184      American Goldfinch

1217     House Sparrow

Total species – 62 plus 1 Count Week

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

Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count

This year we held the count on Wednesday, December 21. We had 28 counters in the field and 4 reporting as feeder watchers. 9 participants got up early and went owling. I am always grateful to them for their extra effort.

The weather and the birds co-operated pretty well. The total of 73 species is not a record for this count but it’s pretty good. The average for the Kishwaukee count is in the high sixties. Dark-eyed Juncos were particularly abundant and Hermit Thrushes set a high count record. One party found a surprising 42 White-crowned Sparrows all in one flock. Although we didn’t break many records most of our birds were present in average, to above average, numbers. A few single birds that helped push up the species total were Northern Shrike, Purple Finch, Brown Thrasher, Savannah Sparrow, Western Meadowlark. The one Ruby-crowned Kinglet was actually coming to a feeder! Let’s hope that the lonely single Swamp Sparrow is an anomaly. Normally we have a dozen or more Swamp Sparrows.

The birds found in unusually low numbers were mostly species that vary their numbers dramatically from one winter to the next. Snow Buntings, Longspurs, Shrikes, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Siskins (missed entirely!) and Purple Finches don’t always show up in northern Illinois in big numbers, possibly due to conditions to our north. Lack of much open water probably kept the gull and waterfowl numbers down. But, it is worrying that we only found one Red-headed Woodpecker. Red-heads are a species of much concern as they continue to lose habitat.

I am attaching the report of the count, including the birdlist, from the Audubon Christmas Bird Count system.You can get access to all the CBC information and past records at: http://www.audubon.org/conservation/science/christmas-bird-count.

Many thanks to all of you who participated. Volunteer effort is the lifeblood of the CBC program. You make it work.

Barbara Williams

Kishwaukee CBC 21 Dec 2016

Yesterday’s Spring Bird Count

Highlights from our count yesterday included a Harris’s Sparrow near the shelterhouse on Best Road in Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve. I think it is called the “Arrowhead” Sheterhouse.
Two Long-billed Dowitchers were in the company of a variety of other shorebirds in a flooded spot on the north side of Telegraph Road about a quarter mile east of Pecatonica.

Barbara Williams

2014 Kishwaukee CBC report

Thanks to all the participants who helped with the Kishwaukee CBC. A preliminary report is below.

The weather was fairly mild and skies were overcast. There was no wind & ponds and lakes were partly open.

We missed finding any Lapland Longspurs or Snow Buntings. Even without snow I would have guessed that a few would have been around but they were not to be found. Similarly, no Savannah Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows or Northern Shrikes, all open-country birds, were found.

Only single birds were found of some species that are usually more numerous: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Fox Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Carolina Wren. The very cold weather in November may have pushed some of those birds to the south of us.

Collared Dove flocks continue to grow. They were found in Holcomb and Davis Junction. In other good news Bald Eagles, Pileated Woodpeckers and Eastern Bluebirds seem to be showing steadily increasing numbers. Time will tell if it is a long-term trend or just a few deceptively good years.

I’ll get the final report out in a couple of days.

Next year’s Kishwaukee CBC will be on December 26, 2015.  I hope you can join us and help out!

Thanks again and Happy New Year to everyone!

188 Cackling Goose
4445 Canada Goose
3 American Black Duck
1143 Mallard
1 Lesser Scaup
18 Common Goldeneye
4 Bufflehead
53 Common Merganser
11 American Coot
2 Ring-necked Pheasant
99 Wild Turkey
4 Great Blue Heron
47 Bald Eagle (24 ad., 23 im.)
4 Northern Harrier
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
17 Cooper’s Hawk
98 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
3 Rough-legged Hawk
20 American Kestrel
1 Merlin
89 Ring-billed Gull
110 Herring Gull
115 Rock Pigeon
99 Eurasian Collared-Dove
685 Mourning Dove
8 Eastern Screech- Owl
4 Great Horned Owl
8 Barred Owl
4 Northern Saw-whet Owl
12 Belted Kingfisher
2 Red-headed Woodpecker
190 Red-bellied Woodpecker
7 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
277 Downy Woodpecker
63 Hairy Woodpecker
58 Northern Flicker
10 Pileated Woodpecker
281 Blue Jay
545 American Crow
12 Horned Lark
676 Black-capped Chickadee
50 Tufted Titmouse
338 White-breasted Nuthatch
85 Brown Creeper
1 Carolina Wren
3 Winter Wren
4 Golden-crowned Kinglet
98 Eastern Bluebird
103 American Robin
2 Hermit Thrush
2302 European Starling
294 Cedar Waxwing
27 Yellow-rumped Warbler
452 Northern Cardinal
367 American Tree Sparrow
1 Field Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
18 Song Sparrow
1 Swamp Sparrow
3 White-throated Sparrow
1306 Dark-eyed Junco
20 Purple Finch
523 House Finch
19 Common Redpoll
33 Pine Siskin
302 American Goldfinch
30 Brown-headed Cowbird
2164 House Sparrow

Total species – 69

Total individual birds – 19,005


One of the highlights for yesterday’s SBC was a single dark morph Broadwing seen quite high and headed northwest, about 2:00 p.m., over the Pecatonica F. P. in Winnebago County.

We saw a wonderful Woodcock family (hen & four half-grown chicks) crossing the road in Pecatonica F. P.

We totalled a surprisingly high count of 28 Red-headed Woodpeckers for just our portion of Winnebago County. The county total will probably be higher.

The best variety of warblers in our area were at Pecatonica F. P. – 17 species.

Dan saw two Black Terns at the wetland restoration area south of Westlake Village .

Barbara & Daniel Williams

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

Field Trip to Glacial Park

Yesterday’s field trip to Glacial Park was highly successful. We had seventeen participants, great weather, only a few mosquitoes, and a total of 68 species of birds found at the park with a couple more species seen from the cars on the trips to and from the park.

Highlights included Bobolinks, Dickcissels, a Killdeer pair with chicks, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Orchard Orioles, Sandhill Cranes and a highly territorial Blue-winged Warbler.

We only encountered five or six other people so we had the park mostly to ourselves. It’s a big park with very nice facilities. McHenry County is doing a top notch job there.

Winnebago Co. shorebirds

I found a few shorebirds around today. Oliver Road oxbow was pretty empty, but I’d heard from Phil Doncheck & Steve Gent that they had a couple of Godwits in a flooded spot at the intersection of Moody and Blodgett Roads. I looked there and found no Godwits but a handful of Dunlin, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, two Baird’s Sandpipers and a White-rumped Sandpiper along with a blizzard of five species of swallows.
On the SW corner of the intersection of Roscoe Road and Gleasman Road there is a flooded pasture that had Semipalmated Plover and Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, another White-rumped Sandpiper and five Dunlin. There was another five species swallow blizzard going on there, too.
No shorebirds visible but 18 Great Egrets at the Nygren Wetland overlook.