Rockford Christmas Bird Count results

The Rockford Christmas Bird count was held on Saturday, December 14.
The first paragraph of this letter could have been taken from the first paragraph of last year’s report.  Mild weather, no snow cover, and a hard job finding birds.  Sound familiar?  I hope that this isn’t going to be the new normal.
We recorded 68 species and 23,350 individual birds, both of which were better than last year, but both still below the 10 year rolling average for the count.  The average is 72 species.
Once again, we had to work hard.  Open field birds, like Snow Buntings, Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs, were very hard to see or hear because the lack of snow cover kept them out in fields and not near roadsides.  (Although I am reluctant to mention it, we counters aren’t getting any younger and our hearing and vision may not be as sharp was it once was, or which we hoped that it would still be. But, I digress..)
Highlights were: 2 Eurasian Tree Sparrows, which were new to the count; 5320 Mallards (most of them in 1 place) set a new count high for that species. Other new count highs were 4 Merlins and 10 Eurasian Collared-doves.  2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets were documented and tied a count high. A single Killdeer was the only shorebird seen. Count week species, not seen on count day, were Trumpeter Swan, Short-eared Owl and Snow Bunting.
Lowlights were the continuing paltry number of American Crows (although they were up double from last year), only 2 Ring-necked Pheasants, and the absence of Wilson’s Snipe, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush White-crowned Sparrow or Brown-headed Cowbirds, all of which are pretty regular annual species on this count.  Fruit-eating birds were hard to find (last year’s Polar Vortex killed a lot of honeysuckle and other flower buds so the fruit crop was diminished). Winter finches (Pine Siskins and Purple Finches) failed to irrupt southward this year.  There is a lot of food up North.  Many Sandhill Cranes have been migrating over Chicago and around the south end of Lake Michigan over the past 2 weeks, but none were detected on our CBC.
We recorded 68 species and 23,350 individual birds, plus 3 more species during count week, which is the 3 days before and 3 days after count day.
8            Cackling Goose                                       2          Northern Shrike
8145     Canada Goose                                         220      Blue Jay
cw         Trumpeter Swan                                   395      American Crow
20          American Black Duck                           50        Horned Lark
 5320     Mallard    (high count)                        384       Black-capped Chickadee
6             Lesser Scaup                                          8         Tufted Titmouse
1             Bufflehead                                             231      White-breasted Nuthatch
28          Common Goldeneye                             16       Brown Creeper
62          Common Merganser                             5         Winter Wren
2            Ring-necked Pheasant   (low)              1         Carolina Wren
40          Wild Turkey                                           3         Golden-crowned Kinglet
11          Great Blue Heron                                  2         Ruby-crowned Kinglet  (hc-tie)
59          Bald Eagle                                              14       Eastern Bluebird
7            Northern Harrier                                  3        American Robin
3            Sharp-shinned Hawk                           2239  European Starling
11          Cooper’s Hawk                                     12       Cedar Waxwing
47          Red-tailed Hawk                                    5        Lapland Longspur
2           Rough-legged Hawk                              cw      Snow Bunting
1           Killdeer                                                     5        Yellow-rumped Warbler
3           Ring-billed Gull                                      1251   American Tree Sparrow
2           Herring Gull                                            1        Fox Sparrow
660       Rock Pigeon                                            1312  Dark-eyed Junco
10         Eurasian Collared-dove (high)            10      White-throated Sparrow
233       Mourning Dove                                      26      Song Sparrow
2           Eastern Screech-owl                              5        Swamp Sparrow
10         Great Horned Owl                                 376    Northern Cardinal
7           Barred Owl                                              12      Red-winged Blackbird
cw        Short-eared Owl                                      1       Common Grackle
7           Belted Kingfisher                                   391    House Finch
7           Red-headed Woodpecker                      2        Purple Finch
117      Red-bellied Woodpecker                        1        Pine Siskin
244      Downy Woodpecker                                311    American Goldfinch
51         Hairy Woodpecker                                  881    House Sparrow
16         Northern Flicker                                     2        Eurasian Tree Sparrow (hc)
12         Pileated Woodpecker
15         American Kestrel
4           Merlin   (high count)
As usual, all of this data could not have been assembled without the collective effort by all of the participants. This has been the 120th anniversary of the beginning of the Audubon Christmas Bird Counts featuring volunteers donating their time and talent to contribute to the growing database of bird information.  Thank you to every counter for their contributions!  Next year’s count is tentatively set for Saturday, December 19.  Please save the date on your calendar.
Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!
Dan Williams

Flooded spots in Winnebago County

For those of you planning to do some birding this weekend, here is some information about flooded roads.  The Pecatonica River is very high and has closed some roads.  Steve Gent reported to me that Oliver Road is closed, as is Harrison Road on the east side of  Ferguson Forest Preserve.

There is extensive flooding west of Rockton and all of the low areas of Nygren are under water.  High water has flooded the ag fields along Meridian Road between IL 75 and the Pecatonica River bridge.  There is a lot of water on both sides of Moody Road, and the dead end section of Moody leading to the driveways of the homes down there has water running over the road.

A lot of ice still covers the flooded spots, but it is opening up with warmer temperatures.  I only found a few duck species this afternoon.  Steve G had more in the morning.  He had Canvasback, for instance.  We both had L. Scaup and C. Goldeneye.  I found a single White-fronted Goose at Winnebago Pond and 14 Cackling Geese on Moody Road.  Red-winged Blackbirds are showing up.

If south winds develop, I suspect that a lot of waterfowl will come in with it.

February 19 in the rain

After the strong southerly wind yesterday, I drove around some parts of Winnebago County to see if any new birds came in on the wind.  Hoople’s pond on Stephens Road still had 5 Green-winged Teal and I also found Steve Gent.

On Fish Hatchery Road, west of Winnebago Road, I found 5 White-fronted Geese in a flock of ~450 Canada Geese in corn stubble on the south side of the road about 1/2 mile E of Thedorff Road.

A Peregrine Falcon has been reported in downtown Rockford from time to time on eBird.  This morning, Steve called me to tell me that he had spotted the falcon on the Rockford News Tower.  It was still there when I arrived just before noon.

Green-winged Teal

On Thursday, 2/1, I found 8 Green-winged Teal in Hoople’s pond on Stephens Road, Winnebago County.  They were still there today.  They are pretty skittish, so don’t get out of your car if you go to see them.  While I was there, someone in a pick-up truck stopped in the driveway and got out to get mail or something and spooked a bunch of ducks, including the teal, but they returned.

On Thursday, I also had 2 Am. Black Ducks, but they weren’t there today.  About a week ago, a Wilson’s Snipe was in the creek below the pond, but I have seen it in the last 2 visits.

Someone I do not know photographed a Snowy Owl on January 27 and posted it on Facebook.  No location given, and the photo is so zoomed in that there are no identifying details for location.  I have also received a report of up to 8 Short-eared Owls at Ferguson FP at Shirland.  If you go, I recommend parking in the north lot and taking the E-W trail to the west about 300 meters or so, then scanning from there.  Best if after 4:00 pm until you can’t see anymore.

Klehm Arboretum on Saturday afternoon

I visited Klehm for 90 minutes from 12:30-2:00 pm on Saturday, 1/13.  Highlights were 22 Common Redpolls in a flock with 10 siskins, 2 Hermit Thrushes, 16 Cedar Waxwings, and 8 Red-breasted Nuthatches.  There was only 1 Robin.

I heard the redpolls before I saw them.  After I heard them, I played a recording of their calls and they immediately flew in with the siskins and began feeding in birch catkins.  They were in the area of trail marker #10 on the west loop paved trail.

Klehm is closed on Sudays during the winter.

NW Winnebago on January 7

I looked for birds in the NW partof Winnebago County started around 10:00 am until 2:00pm today, then went back to Ferguson at 4:00 pm and met Phil D, Steve G, & Joel N to look for Short-eared Owls .  Highlights were 37 Wild Turkeys on Yale Bridge Rd. just W of the Blackhawk Tree Farm, a male harrier at Yale Bridge/Prairie Rd, a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk at Pec Wetlands along Blair Road.  3 immature White-crowned Sparrows were in a large mixed species flock of sparrows on Moody Road.  Over 75 Lapland Longspurs were also on Moody with many  Horned Larks.

At Ferguson, we saw 1 Northern Shrike and 2 Short-eared Owls.  A fly-over Belted Kingfisher near the pines was odd.

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.

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.