January 2011

The Snowy Owl was found by Anne Straight and her son this morning around 10:00 a.m. in the same location. It was perched on a fence post far out in the field to the Southwest of the intersection of 72 and Fork Creek Rd. The bird was barely visible to the naked eye, so a scope will be very useful if you go to look for it.
The Merlin is an adult of the richardsonii or "prairie" subspecies. It was located three miles South of Rte. 72 where Fork Creek Rd. intersects Town Line Rd. Go East on Town Line Rd. The first house on the left is a blue farmhouse. The Merlin was in a small tree right on the edge of the road in front of the blue house and across from some old round hay bales.

A Snowy Owl is reported at the intersection of Fork Creek Road and Rte. 72, four miles East of Shannon. Shannon is South/Southwest of Freeport, IL.

This coming Saturday and Sunday, January 22-23, is the annual IAS Bald Eagle Weekend at Starved Rock SP. A number of vendors will have displays in the main lodge, including Barbara's travelling taxidermy show. She will be working on owls and hawks. There is also a live Birds of Prey exhibit featuring free-flying birds in the main meeting room. Across the river at the Illinois River visitor's center, at Utica, there is a viewing platform to look at eagles, gulls and waterfowl at and below the lock and dam. This is usually a good place for finding winter gulls, although I haven't seen any reports yet.

The Spotted Towhee has returned to our feeder. All are welcome to come inside to vew the bird. 9484 Yale Bridge Road, Winnebago County. 815-629-2334

I'm passing along a report from Gary Janke who found several good-sized flocks of Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings and Horned Larks on Spring Center Road (running south from Reed Crossing Road) in S. E. Boone Co. today. They were also seen by Steve Huggins who reported seeing a Northern Shrike on the same road.

Robins have been very abundant this winter but I thought the flock of 259 this morning was worth writing about. They were in a private Oak woods between Hwy.75 and Favor Road in NW Winnebago County.

A Varied Thrush was located at 303 N. 2nd Street (NW corner of Oak St. and 2nd St) in Dekalb on Thursday, 1/13. It has been seen several times this morning, including by me at around 10:45 a.m. The yard is fenced. Please do not enter the yard. Viewing is best from the Oak Street side or from the sidewalk on the 2nd Street side. There are feeders on both the N & S sides of the house. (NOTE: Oak Street is 1-way westbound. From N. 1st Street, go up to Pine, turn right, then right again on 2nd St. You can park on both 2nd St. and Oak St.

This afternoon, I relocated a Northern Shrike at the dry dam in Anna Page Park in northwest Rockford. This is almost certainly the same shrike that Barbara and Beth Goeppinger found there on the Dec. 18th Rockford CBC.

I parked on Porter Road, just E of the bridge over the creek, and then walked S on the snowmobile trail. As the trail turned toward the east, and the north end of the dry dam, the shrike was visible as it perched at the top of a tree to the south.

I have not seen or heard many reports of N. Shrike in northwest IL this winter other than one found near the Wiegert/Telegraph Road intersection by Steve and Dottie Cooper on 12/10 and the bird reported by Anne Straight at Ayer's Prairie in Carroll Co., so please reply to this post with date and directions if you have other shrike sightings. Thank you.

South Bend Road, which runs between Belt Line Road and Baxter Road south of the Rockford airport, is permanently closed. This is the road where the Western Kingbird was found this past May/June and where a lot of wildcat dumping of old tires, furniture and garbage has been taking place for years. There are now barriers across the road with large cement barriers on the shoulders. Signs say "Authorized Vehicles Only." I left a message with the County Highway Department to find out of the right-of-way dedication has been abandoned and conveyed to the airport. David Townsend returned my call and advised that the City of Rockford abandoned the road and transferred it to the airport authority.

Today I counted 22 Eurasian Collared-doves in a tree near the grain elevator in Holcomb, Ogle Co. IL. That is the highest number that I have recorded there this winter, and the largest flock of that species that I have ever encountered in northern IL.

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