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

Rock Cut CBC

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Rock Cut CBC this year. We managed to have a rather cold day for it and several counters were having difficulty in finding birds. However we did manage to find 57 species on count day and 5 count week species. which beat the previous high of 48.

We had 13 field counters and 5 feeder watchers, which is a few more counters then usual, which made it so teams could be assigned to areas that don’t generally get counted. We beat several records, but we also had several notable no shows, including Gulls, Belted Kingfisher, and Eurasian Collared-Dove. Waterfowl in general were low (very little open water), as were hawks. One area we did particularly well in was owls, this count usually gets 1-2 species with 2-3 individuals, we got 4 species and 11 individuals.

Here is the list, species marked with an * would be new high count species. Species marked with ** are first time sightings on this count. Count week birds are cw.

cw Greater White-fronted Goose
43 Cackling Goose*
3231 Canada Goose
1 Gadwall
4 American Black Duck
108 Mallard
1 Lesser Scaup
3 Common Goldeneye
54 Wild Turkey
1 Great Blue Heron**
1 Bald Eagle
cw Northern Harrier
2 Sharp-shinned Hawk
3 Cooper’s Hawk
14 Red-tailed Hawk
cw American Coot
1 Wilson’s Snipe**
106 Rock Pigeon
59 Mourning Dove
3 Eastern Screech Owl**
3 Great Horned Owl*
2 Barred Owl
1 Northern Saw-whet Owl**
3 Red-headed Woodpecker**
49 Red-bellied Woodpecker*
52 Downy Woodpecker*
6 Hairy Woodpecker
5 Northern Flicker
1 Pileated Woodpecker
2 American Kestrel
1 Merlin**
1 Northern Shrike**
76 Blue Jay*
65 American Crow
36 Horned Lark*
104 Black-capped Chickadee
8 Tufted Titmouse*
2 Red-breasted Nuthatch
42 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 Brown Creeper
1 Winter Wren
cw Golden-crowned Kinglet
16 Eastern Bluebird
16 American Robin
278 European Starling
63 Cedar Waxwing
cw Lapland Longspur
184 American Tree Sparrow*
3 Fox Sparrow*
379 Dark-eyed Junco*
2 White-crowned Sparrow**
23 White-throated Sparrow**
2 Song Sparrow
10 Swamp Sparrow*
105 Northern Cardinal*
10 Common Grackle
43 House Finch
8 Purple Finch**
38 Pine Siskins**
110 American Goldfinch*
431 House Sparrow*

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.

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.

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