january 2009 Sightings

Nancy Bent and Roger Reason on 1/31 reported via IBET: While visiting the Jelkes Creek Bird Sanctuary, outside of Sleepy Hollow on Boncosky Road (a Dundee Township Open Space site), we observed a Northern Shrike.

Sulli Gibson on 1/31 reported via IBET: Dick Paulson and I led the ENSBC field trip today (1/31/09) in the Hampshire area (Kane Co.). This area is NW of Elgin. The duration of the field trip was approximately 3 hours. There were clear skies and good side scrape and manure spreads. HORNED LARKs were widespread and we had 135+ feeding on side scrape and manure spreads at all locations we checked. SNOW BUNTINGs were concentrated on New Lebanon and Derby Line Roads where 115+ were tallied. The Buntings were only feeding on side scrape today. Our usual dairy farms on Walker and Allen Roads failed to produce any Buntings or Longspurs and only had HORNED LARKs surprisingly. 2 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDs were feeding in manure along Walker Road. Unfortunately, we did not see any Longspurs on the trip. When we finished with the fields, we went to Elburn Forest Preserve (Kane Co.) to look for White-winged Crossbills but nothing of note was seen. Here are our totals:

Target birds:
Horned Lark - 135+
Lapland Longspur - (none)

Red-tailed Hawk - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 1
American Kestrel - 2
American Tree Sparrow - 4

Debbie Wisser on 1/30 reported via e-mail: I live in an old neighborhood [in Elgin] with very tall evergreen trees scattered throughout the neighborhood. Today I looked out my window up at one of these trees that is two houses from mine, and a small bird landed near the top of the tree. I ran and grabbed my binoculars and was delighted to get a brief look at a pair of White-winged Crossbills. They apparently did not like this type of evergreen and took off. When they took flight, 3 more joined them. I stood outside freezing for a while in the hopes that they would return but they did not. Thanks Kane County Audubon for this special treat, for if I had not joined and participated in some rambles I would have missed seeing these special visitors to the neighborhood. A few Common Redpolls continue to visit my thistle feeder along with Pine Siskins and American Goldfinch.

Nate Sumner on 1/30 reported via e-mail: we have been visiting the bald eagles in batavia weekly. last year there were three birds. last year there was one pair and one tag along who was with them about 40 percent of the time. this year they are back along with a young juvenile. this is a photo from early jan. of the two of them and one from last week of the young one in the back ground and parent? in the front flying.

Bald Ealge photos courtesy Nate Sumner

Bob Andrini on 1/29 reported via phone: Backyard birds today: White-winged Crossbills, Common Redpolls, and Brown Creeper. The crossbills are another yard first.

Common Redpoll photo (L) courtesy Kathy Andrini. White-winged Crossbill photo (R) courtesy Bob Andrini.

John Heneghan on 1/29 reported via e-mail: Stopped by Elburn Forest Preserve yesterday (1/28) to look for redpolls and White winged crossbills. None to be seen in the alders and the neighboring fir trees. Drove some of the local roads also, no sightings. A friend saw redpolls at Johnson's Mound a few days ago.

Bob Andrini on 1/28 reported via phone: Kathy saw one dozen(!) Common Redpolls on their thistle feeders today. The redpolls are a yard first.

Mark Bowman on 1/28 reported via e-mail: went to leave this AM and noted activity on my thistle feeder, I figured it would be the usual pine siskins or goldfinches but to my surprise it was 3 common redpolls but no hoary. went to see a friend and stopped at big rock preserve but not much happening there, saw a red tailed hawk, kestrel and a few woodpeckers but no barred owl [Bob, where is he?]

Christopher Cudworth on 1/28 reported via IBET: I delayed going to work a few minutes this morning to gather up my warm winter boots and better binoculars to put in the car. So far this year I've been stumped in attempts at WWCBs (Morton Arb, Elburn, others) and decided it was time to drive around during lunch and check out some spots mentioned on IBET.

That said, every morning I've been checking the white pines and spruce trees on our property [in Batavia] and the neighbor's yard. There have been [pine] siskins galore eating the white pine seeds. But I hadn't gotten White Winged Crossbills visiting all those fat cones on the pines and spruces.

Until today.

The minute I walked out the garage door I heard that distinctive jibbering call and looked up to find a healthy flock of 14 WWCBs. They immediately flew to the spruces next door where the early morning sunlight struck their plumage quite nicely. I was going to rush back inside and get my digiscoping setup but it was already 10 to 8 and time to go.

Those are the first crossbills I've seen since 1972. About time. And thank you Lord for serendipity.

The (R)Andrini Ramblers© on 1/27 reported seeing: Common and Hoary Redpolls and White-winged Crossbills on a morning trip to Elburn Forest Preserve.

John Baker on 1/26 reported via e-mail: I've had Common Redpolls, generally two in a big flock of Pine Siskins, at my feeders [a couple of miles west of Wasco] every day for the last three days.

Scott Cohrs on 1/25 reported via IBET: Ho-hum, more White-winged Crossbills.... Another Hoary... What state is this?

I had planned to check Elburn FP this morning to look for Common Redpolls. Ironically, I saw Eric's post about the crossbills this morning, so I certainly kept my eyes open. Sure enough, as I was walking in the alders in the southwest portion of Elburn FP, I heard (then saw) a flock of 15+ White-winged Crossbills fly out of some pine trees just to the west of the FP. They circled overhead, then flew off to the southeast. The majority of pines are in a subdivision just west of Elburn FP, and more are scattered along Route 38 to the west. I don't know if they are actually sticking to this area, or if they use it as a larger feeding circle. But they are present. Everywhere....

The crossbills were trumped a few minutes later. I hadn't seen a single bird in the alders when I decided to stop and try to 'pish' some up. Instantly, a mixed flock of Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins flew right in. As soon as I got my bins on the flock, I was drawn to a very pale redpoll. I was able to watch the bird for about 10 minutes before I had to leave. I felt it was a strong candidate for Hoary, but my views were short and the lighting wasn't the greatest.

I returned later in the afternoon, and this time the lighting was better and the birds were more vocal. I was able to quickly find the flock and observed the bird in question 3 separate times. Twice it was with the Common Redpolls and once it was alone. I'm quite confident the bird is a Hoary Redpoll. It was quite pale, snow-white underneath, with close to no streaking on the sides. No streaking on the undertail coverts. The back had much more 'frosting' than the Commons.

For a more mundane sighting, I checked Seavy Road this morning on the drive out. There were approximately 40 Snow Buntings along the road. This is a pretty good place to check for them. The shoulder is plowed well into the grass and the traffic is fairly light. This area is just west of Bliss Road.

Eric Walters on 1/25 reported via IBET: Eager to try my luck further afield to find the 'elusive' White-winged Crossbills, I ventured out yesterday ...

I first tried at the Kane County cemetery adjacent to Norris Woods that Scott Cohrs mentioned having some pass through, but the place was dead in more ways than one. The cone crop here seemed limited compared to other places. The cemetery a few miles south of there [in Geneva] had more cones and bird action, but I was only able to pull out 8 Pine Siskins from the common species.

A better place was at Fabyan Forest Preserve, on the west side of the Fox River where the Japanese garden area had some cone crops. I had: 4 Eastern Bluebirds; 2 Brown Creepers; 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch; 4 Pine Siskins; Northern Flicker; 6 American Robins. Alas, there were no rare winter finches, so I began to wonder if I was going to stumble into them at all.

Since my initial plans yielded little and I had to drive west, I headed that way looking for suburban or small town areas that had conifer patches. Over the next hour, I ended up looking through half a dozen conifer areas without any success and had pretty much given up on Kane County when I spied one last evergreen stand not far from Elburn Forest Preserve in far west-central Kane County.

When I drove up, to my excitement, I noticed activity around the cones and sure enough, I finally had found my own Kane County White-winged Crossbills! Four Pine Siskins were also feeding with them. Over the next half hour, I was able to get a few photos of the flock, which ultimately I was able to count at least 23 in total!

A double shock was hearing one of these males put forth part of its breeding song, something I've never heard in the US before! These birds were feeding in some short spruces, which after later research, the closest species I could determine was that they Black Spruces (as the cones were only about an inch or two in size).

Mark Bowman on 1/24 reported via e-mail: [I] was at the cemetery by norris woods briefly and ran into Eric Walters who was looking for the crossbills, I did not see any but later in the day at dusk a medium to large sized owl flew through the woods, I could not ID him however.

Scott Cohrs on 1/22 reported via IBET: [Today I stopped at] the cemetery just north of the Norris Woods parking lot in St. Charles (on Route 25). After about 10 minutes strolling through the area, I had 3 White-winged Crossbills fly in, stop for a second, then fly out again heading west towards the river. These were my first Kane County White-wingeds. I've stopped at this site a few times throughout the winter hoping to find them and it finally paid off.

I checked another cemetery further south on Route 25 near the Geneva/St. Charles border. While I did not have any crossbills at this site, it was loaded with Pine Siskins and a few Robins. I would suspect that crossbills could be found at this spot right now as well.

Debbie Wisser on 1/21 reported via e-mail: I [birded] the Fox River Trail south of South Elgin again on Tuesday 1/20. The same Bald Eagle I saw on Monday was perched on a tree not too far south of SEBA park. I saw it both at the start of my walk and as I was returning. Other birds that I don't usually see were a male Hooded Merganser and a male Common Merganser on the river, and one Tufted Titmouse. Today there were Common Redpolls on my feeder (in Elgin). Another bird to add to my life list!

Paul Mayer on 1/21 reported via e-mail: This morning (1/21/09) at 10:05 there were three Common Redpolls on our thistle feeder [in Elburn]. The birds hung around for about twenty minutes but have not been seen since.

Debbie Wisser on 1/19 reported via e-mail: I went for a walk on the Fox River Trail [south of South Elgin] today for the first time since the beginning of January. There were lots of Common Goldeneye on the river. I heard the whistle of their wings as several groups took flight. I also saw an almost full adult Bald Eagle. The head and tail were white, but not brilliant white yet, and its underside was still slightly mottled with white. I was surprised to see my first Yellow Bellied Sapsucker today. The red throat was unmistakable.

Karen Land on 1/17 reported via IBET: We visited the neat little art gallery in downtown Batavia in the strip that houses Panera and Walgreens today about 12:30. As we drove out of the lot we saw a large bird with large wingspan heading up River from the Batavia Treatment Plant on South Island Street. We followed along until he perched in a tree near the Batavia Police Department parking lot. He was easily identifiable [as an immature Bald Eagle] from size and whitish chest as a number of crows took turns diving towards his head. He was almost twice the size of the crows. Finally they bugged him enough that he took off, giving us a close and clear view of his underside which looked just like the photo in Stokes. He went into a tree below our sight line but right by the police station.

A neighbor has been seeing mature bald eagles along the River from the bike path by Batavia Quarry Pool or a regular basis. We have seen some here before but did not look today.

The Fox River is really churning right now. Open water all the way down to Aurora where we were earlier in the day. We did spot some small divers north of Clark Island from the parking lot next to Batavia's ESDA building. Moving too fast to ID them.

Mark Bowman on 1/16 reported via e-mail: forgot to report [2 days] ago along perry road just east of county line road and even extending west were lots of horned larks, snow buntings and moderate #'s of lapland longspurs. if anyone spots a screech, barred or long eared owl, please let us know as they are on, at least for myself, my high priority list.

Mark Bowman on 1/15 reported via e-mail: in this bitter cold this AM, my feeders were super active with red bellied woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers on the suet, on the tray feeder and thistle feeder were goldfinches, chickadees, white breasted nuthatches, house finches, house sparrows and pine siskins.

Michael T. Sedwick on 1/13 reported via IBET: This afternoon at about 16:20 while driving home from picking up my new 21 M-pixel camera... there was nearly an accident on Rt. 31 as everyone watched an Adult Bald Eagle fly from the Fox River NW across Rt. 31 just North of [Boy] Scout Island, but before Ferson Creek [Fen]. It was pretty interesting to see them this far out...

Jane Lawson on 1/13 reported via e-mail: One Carolina wren is frequenting our bird feeders in Elgin near Big Timber and Randall.

Scott (no last name) on 1/12 reported via IBET: Hello, I am visiting from California, what nice weather you have in Illinois!

Burnidge Forest Preserve.
3+ White-breasted nuthatch
1 ring-necked pheasant

Fox River Dundee/Carpentersville
75 + Common Goldeneye
30 Canada Geese
1 Hooded Merganser
5 Mallards
2 Gulls, I think Mew gulls.

Fox River Elgin
50 Canada Geese
3+ Hairy Woodpecker (one seen, two others calling from island)
1 common goldeneye
50 American Crows
2 Gulls, I think Mew Gulls, maybe the same ones I saw earlier in CVille.
House Sparrows
Rock Doves
European Starlings

Western Elgin
House Finch
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal

Fox Squirrels

John Heneghan on 1/11 reported via IBET: Spent the weekend working at Nachusa Grasslands. On the way out Saturday AM, we saw many snow buntings, lapland longspurs and horned larks along Keslinger Rd. west of Rt 47....

Mark Bowman on 1/8 reported via e-mail: Interesting story. My older brother was by peck farm the other day when a row of cars slowed down to go around something in the road. When he got up to it he saw a red tailed hawk picking at a road kill rabbit frozen on the road and he would not move for the cars. My brother, concerned for the hawk, got out and thought he would get the hawk out of the road and or move the rabbit to the side of the road for him. To his surprise, the hawk not only did not move, but when he got within a few feet of the bird he looked at my brother and “hissed” as if to tell him to get away so my brother just backed off and went his way. He did check back later and most of the rabbit was gone and there was no hawk road kill.

Mike Baum on 1/7 reported via IBET: [Today at] Faybian F. P. in Kane Co. I had an ad. BALD EAGLE and PURPLE FINCHES

Bill Koch on 1/6 reported via e-mail: On my way to work this AM I stopped at the corner of Rt. 20 and Nessler in Elgin. In the field to the north of the intersection I saw some white flashes out in the corn stubble field. I happened to have my binos in the car and spotted a small flock of about 15 SNOW BUNTINGS foraging around. In typical Snow Bunting behavior they landed pecked around for several seconds then moved on to another spot. Didn't see any Laplands in the group. May check out Allen Road this week to see if the the Buntings, Longspurs and Horned Larks are around again this year.

Mark Bowman on 1/6 reported via e-mail: [O]n 1-5 at fermilab saw a lone merlin [lifer] which would not stay in one place very long to get a picture. Also saw a # of goldfinches, house finches and bluebirds in small groups. 2 coyotes also seen. Did not see any ducks that had been reported on IBET the day before.

Karen Lund on 1/4 reported via IBET: Late this morning as I was leaving Les Arends F.P. in Batavia, a pair of peregrines flew over heading east. One bird was noticeably larger than the other. The mallards flushed, but the 3 common goldeneye (1 male and 2 females) were undisturbed.

Chris Madsen on 1/4 reported: Besides the Canada geese and Mallards at Fabyan Forest Preserve this morning, there were about 7 Common Goldeneyes, one of them a female, a male Ring-necked Duck, and a male Hooded Merganser, that has been hanging around for at least five days now.


This page last updated Wednesday February 18, 2009.

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