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: Rockford CBC (12/14/13) final results  ( 993 )

Dan Williams

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Rockford CBC (12/14/13) final results
« : December 20, 2013, 12:52:16 PM »
The Rockford CBC was held on Saturday, December 14, 2013.  This year's count recorded 76 species, the second highest total in 60+ years of count history.  The high is 79 (1999). 41 field birders, plus 11 feeder watchers, participated.  The final total of individual birds is 22,981. 

The average snow cover of 2-3" was helpful, moving Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings and many sparrows to the plowed edges of the road.   Still water, and the slow-moving sections of rivers, were frozen.  There was enough open water to attract a few species of waterfowl, mostly below the Rockton dam.  Despite the morning snow and wind, the temperatures were fairly moderate, so walking and counting could be done in relative comfort.  Unfortunately, pre-dawn hours, when owling normally takes place, was pretty windy.  No one was able to find an Eastern Screech-owl on Saturday morning.  I went out again early Saturday evening, after the wind died down, and managed to get one to call in response to a recording. 3 Short-eared Owls were found at dusk.

The count recorded historic high totals of eleven species (the number follows in parentheses):
Hooded Merganser (4), Common Merganser (78-smashing the old record of 37), Red-bellied Woodpecker (195), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (8), Hairy Woodpecker (70), Pileated Woodpecker (9), Blue Jay (371), Horned Lark (760), Eastern Bluebird (an amazing 62), Hermit Thrush (3) and Lincoln's Sparrow (2).  We tied count highs for Horned Grebe (1).  3 Vesper Sparrows  and 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet were notable.

In contrast to last year, there was an absence of winter finches.  Purple Finches continue to decline in numbers reported on this count.

On the subject of declines, the population of Ring-necked Pheasant continues to plummet locally.  I believe that the primary cause is massive loss of habitat caused by changes in farming practices and loss of CRP acreage. 512 Crows, although not the lowest count, is a low number.  Whether this is the result of West Nile Virus or just reflects a change in roosting locations to other parts of Rockford outside the Rockford count area needs further assessment.  The Kishwaukee CBC, which covers southern and southeastern Winnebago and northern Ogle Counties has seen an increase in the number of crows.  And, after reaching their high of 806 (state high count) in 2009-2010, House Finch numbers have declined steeply.  This year, we only found 269.

Birds seen during count week were Killdeer and a Goshawk.  And, after not showing themselves since December 1, a pair of Eurasian Collared-doves  reappeared on Thursday, 12/19, 2 days too late to be included as a count week species. 

I expect to finalize data entry on the Audubon CBC site soon.

Finally, no count would be complete without a bird story.  Mark Blassage reports that, as he was going out the door to start his car on count day, a Starling decided to use the opportunity to come in from the cold, and it zipped into his house through the open door.  A merry chase ensued throughout the ground floor as the starling dodged Mark.  Mark finally caught it up in the rafters, took its picture while holding it, and then released it outside.  The starling is included in the totals.

« : December 30, 2013, 01:08:10 PM Dan Williams »


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