December 2010

The Rockford CBC was held on Saturday, December 18, 2010. 37 field observers in 14-18 parties, plus 12 feeder watchers, participated. Overall, the day was relatively pleasant for birding. Temperatures ranged from 5-17 degress F. Wind was mild at 0-10 SW. Snow cover was 4''. In addition to walking and automobiles, particpants also cross-country skied (10.25 miles, 6.5 hours) and went by ATV (6 miles and 3 hours). Still water was frozen, and the rivers were only partly open.

The count recorded 69 species and 15,134 individuals, plus a Spotted Towhee (I'm sorry that the small party staking out the Kehoe feeder was not rewarded that day) in count week. A big "thank you" to Vonnie Kehoe for keeping the wood stove fired up and the hospitality even warmer for the window gazers.

A few highlights: this count exceeded previous totals for Bald Eagle. I eliminated likely duplicates from adjacent territories and still got to 44. This far exceeds the prior record. 18 Cooper's Hawks squeaked by the old count by 1 (more feeder watchers?). There were large numbers of frugivorous birds. Cedar Waxwings set a new high at 313, while E. Bluebirds and Hermit Thrushes tied their previous high counts, and the 116 Am. Robins were close to their previous high. Many of these birds were feeding on hackberry fruits, which were abundant this year. Other species seen eating hackberries were E. Starling, Red-headed Woodpecker, N. Flicker, and YB Sapsucker. Oddly, no Yellow-rumped Warblers were recorded, but the poison ivy berries seemed diminished.

Other highlights: 3 swan sp. (flying away from the observers), 1 Eastern Meadowlark, 2 N. Pintails, 3 Wood Ducks, 2 Savannah Sparrows, 1 Common Redpoll.

"Lowlights" were only 25 Ring-necked Pheasants (more aggressive agricultural practices are eliminating CRP lands, plus cooler and wetter springs), lower than usual totals of Red-tailed Hawks and Am. Kestrels,
low numbers of Great-Horned Owls (fewer owling parties), a very low number of House Finches compared to prior years and a poor early winter for Pine Siskins.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Dan Williams

John Longhenry reports that he saw a Peregrine Falcon sitting on top of the US Bank building at the corner of Whitman and Church Streets, just N of downtown Rockford, yesterday, 12/25 between 2:30-4:30 p.m. This is John's second sighting of a Peregrine in that immediate neighborhood in the last 2 weeks. If anyone sees it there, please post it by at least making a comment to this post. Thank you.

Photo by Martin Kehoe

Martin Kehoe reports that a male Spotted Towhee showed up at their feeder today in the storm. Folks are welcome to wait inside their home if they are there. If they are out, the place to look is from the south side of the garage, between the garage and the firewood supply. From there, look north toward the feeders. Their number is 815-629-2334.

Barbara and I had our first Common Redpoll of the season yesterday when a calling bird flew over us as we were cutting our Christmas tree at Williams Tree Farm west of Rockton. We also had a mixed flock of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings along Meridian Road just S of IL 75.

Please post your bird feeder sightings this winter, particularly of winter finches or other unusual birds, since the Christmas counts are coming up and having this information may be useful if your feeder is in one of the count circles.

Thank you.

I took a drive through Rock Cut SP at noon today to check the ice condition of Pierce Lake. There is only a small stretch of open water just south of the dam. The rest of the lake is frozen. In the open water were 8 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Common Goldeneyes (males) 4 Shovelers and a dozen or so Coots. 1 Herring Gull was with 4-5 Ring-bills.