November 2009

On Saturday evening, 11/28, 5 Short-eared Owls were flying over the marsh at dusk (4:45 p.m.). Lee Johnson said that there were 6 flying on Friday night, 11/27.

Approximately 3000 Cackling Geese were in a flock of 5500-6000 white-cheeked geese at the Rochelle Intermodal ponds today (11/27) around 11:15 a.m. Also in the flock were 2 Ross' Geese, 1 Snow Goose (maybe 2) and 1 blue morph Snow Goose.

At Shabbona Lake SP in DeKalb Co. 2 Black Scoters are still in the area of the lake near the dam. Go to the end of the road where the trail leads to the dam and follow the trail out on to the dam for about 100 meters, then look back to your left into a shallow cove several hundred yards out along the west bank of the lake. Black Scoters have been in this area of the lake since November 8. Also on the lake were 23 Hooded Mergansers, plus a smattering of diving and puddle ducks. A Horned Grebe was in the northeastern bay of the lake, which is accessed by parking at the boat launch in the campground and walking the trail out to a point where you can look east.

Barbara and I saw 17 Sandhill Cranes flying over our house at 10:15 a.m. today. With the strong northwest wind, we figured that a big push of migrating Sandhill Cranes was underway, and, we hoped, the Whooping Cranes would be on the move as well.

We drove up to Nygren around noon and found all 5 Whooping Cranes standing in the marsh in the usual place, so apparently they didn't think that the weather was so great for migration. However, only 3 Sandhill Cranes were with them.

Reports on IBET this afternoon referred to migrating flocks of 1800-3600 Sandhills migrating. I suspect that a lot of them stopped at the Jasper-Pulaski State Wildlife Management Area in NW Indiana. None of the reports made any mention of Whoopers. Barbara reported to ICF that the Whoopers were still at Nygren and was told that some Whoopers left Necedah this morning to migrate, but some never got out of Wisconsin.

We've heard a second-hand report that at dusk last evening there were three Short-eared Owls (in addition to the 5 Whooping cranes, Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans) seen from the observation platform at Nygren Wetlands.

We noted that it is apparently "big white bird day" at Nygren. Thirteen Tundra Swans slept away the morning near the observation platform.

The cranes were still present as of late afternoon today.

Dan and I recorded the bands on the 5 Whooping Cranes and reported them to the International Crane Foundation. Here is the info they sent back:

Thank you so much for contacting us about the 5 whooping cranes you observed and for recording all of the color bands on their legs. Crane #1 is 29-08, Crane #2 is 12-07, Crane #3 is 8-05, Crane #4 is 1-04, and Crane #5 is 14-05. This is an unusual grouping because these birds were not associating with each other prior to starting migration on Sunday.

#'s 1-04 & 8-05 are a breeding pair, 1-04 is a 5 year old male, and 8-05 is a 4 year old female. They spend the winter in TN and nested unsuccessfully for the second time this spring. They started migration from the Necedah NWR on Sunday AM but not with the other birds.

#'s 12-07 & 14-05 are a 2 and 4 year old male who only recently joined up when they both moved south from where they'd spent the spring and summer. We didn't know they were migrating on Sunday - just that they were no longer at their last known location but I'm guessing they actually did fly Sunday AM, otherwise I'm not sure how all these birds met up and ended up at the same place - even so it still seems pretty unlikely and yet pretty cool that these 5 all ended up together. I think 12-07 & 14-05 both spent last winter at separate locations in FL - they'll probably go back to FL but they're not as locked in on a winter location as the pair mentioned above.

#29-08 is a 1 year old male - he learned how to migrate south last fall behind ultralight aircraft so this is his first fall migration on his own. I would normally expect him to return to FL and to the area he spent last winter in the release pen but he may be influenced by these other birds that he's traveling with so we'll have to wait and see. He started migration from near Necedah Sunday AM but wasn't with the pair so somewhere along the way all 5 of these birds - probably originally in 3 separate groups met up in the air and all ended up at the same place.

It's unclear to me from other reports we've gotten whether these birds are still there or if they've moved on. If you visit this area again or hear of any reports of these or any whooping cranes please let me know. Also please let me know if you have any questions about these birds, I'm happy to answer them or at least try.

Thanks again,

Sara Zimorski
Aviculturist/WCEP Tracking and Winter Management Team Co-chair

International Crane Foundation
E11376 Shady Lane Road/P.O. Box 447
Baraboo, WI 53913-0447 USA
608-356-9462 x154 / Fax: 608-356-9465
Visit our website!

Occassionally, reports of birds comes in from the NCIOS Blog from those without blog access. I will post these as they come in.

SIGHTING: Sandhill Crane - 30-40
Flock of 30 or more flying over the intersection of Oglesby, IL and I-39 @ 1:10pm Nov 16, 2009
Just south of the Illinois River, South by Southwest

Also, a fellow birder is selling their spotting scope. Here are the details:

I have a TeleVue 85 Evergreen scope and tripod for sale. It is in like-new, pristine condition. This package is worth over $ 4,000.00 new. I am selling it for $ 2,300.00. Included is:
-- Evergreen f/7 600mm scope with sliding dew shield and machined metal front cover.
-- Tele Vue clamshell ring mount.
-- Tele Vue 2'' Everbright diagonal with compression ring.
-- Tele Vue 1-1/4'' adapter with compression ring.
-- Original Tele Vue soft carrying case.
-- TeleVue Ash Folding Tripod and Panoramic Swivel Mount Head.
-- Upgraded TeleVue Focusmate Focuser (a $ 250.00 upgrade).

I will pay to ship or will deliver within 150 miles of Chicago.

A like-new Pelican 1650 carrying/storage case is also available for $150.00. The foam has been fitted to the Panoramic head and scope. A beautiful package for bird watching in the field or from your backyard!

Please contact me for pictures and payment option
Darryl Hedges / 630-877-6500 /

5 Whooping Cranes were standing with 34 Sandhill Cranes to the east of the observation deck at Nygren Wetlands as dawn broke about 6:20 this morning. The Whoopers (and most of the Sandhills) flew off at 6:58 in groups of three and two, toward the south and southwest. However, if the pattern of the last two days holds, one may expect them to return to Nygren at various times through the day.

Sunday, Nov 15 was a big day for Whooping Cranes in Winnebago County. In the morning, the flock of youngsters being led south by ultralight aircraft on their first migration got underway again after a delay of nine or ten days. Strong south winds and equipment problems had kept them stuck in Winnebago.

In the afternoon five adult Whooping Cranes migrating south from Wisconsin, on their own, stopped in the Nygren Wetlands. Many observers watched them as they rested and fed with many Canada Geese, Mallards and five Sandhill Cranes. It was quite a sight. The human observers were all extremely well-behaved and quiet while we were there. It is important for all of us to remember that it is critical for the birds' well-being that we continue to be well-behaved when Whoopers are present. There is precious little habitat for them in this area and we don't really know whether or not they will return to a place where they have been bothered or frightened away in the past. Nygren is a wonderful place for them. It would be great, for them and us, if they felt secure there and made a habit of using that marsh in migration.

The west side of Rock Cut State Park (i.e. the Pierce Lake side) will be closed beginning today through Sunday, November 15 for the special deer hunt for disabled persons. The Olson annex will remain open through the weekend. There is a barricade across the road inside the Harlem Road entrance which prevents cars from crossing the bridge over I-90.

Next Page >>