December 2009

Merry Christmas and greetings to all,

We are missing a few of our usual Christmas counters for this year, but I think the count circle is pretty well covered. As I write this, the snow is still falling steadily. If you are participating in the count tomorrow, please don't take any chances with your personal safety. Depending on what the weather does, driving and walking may present challenges. Just do what you can do without risk and keep track of your mileage and hours. If it's too hard to do much walking the number of walking hours will be down and the number of birds found will reflect that. That's why we keep track of the effort expended. It's not worth frostbite, injury or car accidents. Be safe. Good luck, I hope you all have fun and find interesting birds.


Stopped by Bill Hoople's pasture ( NE corner of Stephens & Harrison Roads, Winnebago Co) just at duck this afternoon to see what might be in, or entering, the spring-fed creek. Found 1 Great Blue Heron, 3 Killdeer, 5 Wilson's Snipe, and the usual gang of Mallards and Canada Geese. Last weekend there was a hen Pintail there. I didn't see it this eveing, but it could have been hiding behind one of the banks in the stream. Both Swamp and Song Sparrows were poking around the edges, too. Mourning Doves were coming in at dusk to drink and bathe.

Still a lot of open water at the Rockford Airport quarry. A flock of Canada Geese with Mallards and Black Ducks was feeding in the bean field immediately west of the quarry. I counted 9 Black Ducks in the field and quarry pond. Bald Eagles of several ages were flying around.

I have mailed forms and maps to all team captains during the past week. The last went into the mailbox yesterday, 12/11. The captains will call you to arrange meeting time and place, etc. If you have volunteered for the Rockford count, but don't hear from your captain by Tuesday, 12/15, please call me at 815-968-4732. I'll follow up to be sure that you are contacted. Thank you.

A comment has been posted asking if the Whooping Cranes are likely to suffer from this cold weather and what if they don't migrate?

I'm no expert, but I know that northern hemisphere cranes tend to be pretty tough critters. Sandhill Cranes routinely migrate north into Nebraska and the Dakotas in March when the Great Plains' weather can be pretty forbidding. There is abundant food for cranes with all the corn being harvested and the weather really isn't too bad so far. We've heard from the International Crane Foundation that there are still a bunch of other Sandhill and Whooping Cranes at Necedah NWR in Wisconsin that haven't even started to migrate yet. I think we are all surprised that these birds have stayed here so long, but apparently they like it here and when they are ready they'll go. The older birds in this group have migrated both ways on their own before, in fact, there is only one bird of the five that is on his first ultralight-free migration. My guess is that they are fine, and one day they'll be gone.

The Rockford CBC is Saturday, December 19.

The Kishwaukee CBC is Sunday, December 27.

The Rock Cut CBC is Sunday, January 3.

If you haven't signed up for one or all of these counts, please contact Dan or Barbara Williams for Rockford or Kishwaukee and Eddie Callaway for Rock Cut. If you want to watch your feeder, please contact us to see if your house/feeder is within one of our count circles. We'll send you a form.
Thank you for your help.

I did a swing through northwest Winnebago County this morning. Highlight was an adult Northern Shrike on Forest Preserve Road about 1/2 mile west of its intersection with Boswell Road. It was on a wire over the small marsh there.

Scoping from the yellow gate at Lake Summerset, I found Greater and Lesser Scaup, C. Goldeneye, and Hooded (2) and Common (5) Mergansers. Be sure that you don't park in front of the gate-get off to one side or the other.

A hen N. Pintail was in the stream at Hoople's farm. There were a few Cackling Geese there with the Canadas.

A few Snow Geese were at Howard's farm with lots of Canadas. Most of the water there is frozen.

About 100 Brown-headed Cowbirds were in a flock of Starlings and House Sparrows along Winnebago Road about 1/2 mile S of Telegraph Road.

The 5 Whooping Cranes are still at Nygren. There were 118 Sandhill Cranes in the area, too.

I was there Tuesday and saw 3 Whopping Cranes, about 12 Sandhill Cranes,lots of Geese.
Went out there today Saturday about 11:30 a.m. allthat was there were geese and ducks
and 2 Sandhill Cranes

I looked for the Whoopers today but could not find them. Water at Nygren this afternoon was about half skinned with ice. There were a lot of Mallards and Candas but only a half a dozen coot and only 9 Sandhills. I would be interested to hear if anyone has seen the Whoopers since the morning of Dec 3.