Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bird Recap January 2005

Dear Readers,

This week I’ll review the birds I’ve spotted so far this year and share the highlights of the exciting moments. I began with a New Years Day bird walk with Kane County Audubon(www.illinoisaudubon.org). We had a nice, but cold walk around Nelson Lake. There was minimal open water so we were lucky to see Herring Gulls(Larus argentatus) and Ring-billed Gulls(Larus delawarensis). We had a total of 27 species for the trip, the “best” bird being a Common Grackle(Quiscalus quiscula).

At the end of our walk we met another birder on the trail. He invited me to look for a Lark Bunting(Calamospiza melanocorys) at North Aurora Forest Preserve that he had recently observed, about three miles away from Nelson Lake. After only about ten minutes we found our target bird despite the strengthening wind. It was hunkered down with a large flock of White-crowned Sparrows along a field edge in the brush.

Of course you read my first entry about the trip to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Aside from that, all my birding has been in DeKalb County, Illinois. I have seen a total of 57 bird species this year; 34 in DeKalb County and 21 in our back yard.

Most exciting was the discovery by my wife of a Greenfinch(Carduelis chloris) at our feeders. After consulting with members of the Illinois Ornithological Society (IOS) (www.illinoisbirds.org) and an ornithologist at the Illinois State Museum (http://www.museum.state.il.us) in Springfield we discovered that an “unscrupulous” bird dealer released a number of birds last year or the year before in northern Illinois. Two Greenfinch were seen near Lake Michigan last Spring. “Our” Greenfinch stayed around for more than a week and seemed to be traveling with a flock of House Finches(Carpodacus mexicanus). It was quite aggressive and drove Dark-eyed Juncos(Junco hyemalis) away that strayed too closely. Greenfinch are native to Europe.

We have had a moderate warm-up in the weather this week so our back yard is not being visited so heavily. Another reason that the birds may be staying away is the Sharp-shinned Hawk(Accipiter striatus) that is making a few daily visits to our back yard. My wife and I have both observed it hunting and feasting (usually on Dark-eyed Juncos) several times.

Hope to have more stories from February. If you are out and about, I may see you on the trail!

Mike

The following is my year list to date.

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus
Cooper’s Hawk Accipiter cooperii
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus
Sharp-tailed Grouse Tympanuchus phasianellus
Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus
Great Gray Owl Strix nebulosa
Northern Hawk Owl Surnia ulula
Boreal Owl Aegolius funereus
Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
Boreal Chickadee Poecile hudsonicus
Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Northern Shrike Lanius excubitor
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Common Raven Corvus corax
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
Pine Grosbeak Pinicola enucleator
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis
House Sparrow Passer domesticus

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