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February, 2012 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Author: Peter Kasper

January March
Feb 29Feb 26Feb 25Feb 22Feb 19Feb 15Feb 12Feb 8
Feb 5Feb 2

Wednesday, February 29

Peter had several new arrivals on Main Ring Lake today including Greater White-fronted Goose, Canvasback, and Red-breasted Merganser. Also, in this same area were two Bald Eagles. In addition, new for the year were two Greater Scaup on Casey's Pond. Dave

Sunday, February 26

Today's strong winds made waterfowl and field birds our major targets. The field birds were dominated by many Horned Larks and several Red-winged Blackbirds in the North Roads area. The surprise in this area was a lone Savannah Sparrow which is about a month ahead of its typical first arrival date. These were followed by a lone Eastern Meadowlark in the area of the Main Injector Ring. We did much better with the waterfowl though the non-winter birds are still just trickling in. The new arrivals were a pair of Redheads and several Buffleheads in Casey's Pond and several Northern Pintails and Northern Shovelers in Main Ring Lake. Some of the other waterfowl were Cackling Goose, Gadwall, Ring-necked Duck, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, and Hooded Merganser. A Bald Eagle was again spotted flying over Main Ring Lake then landing on the ice. American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds were also seen on the west side of the Lab. Later, on the way through the Lab Peter added a Snow Goose (blue)and about a dozen Greater White-fronted Geese on Main Ring Lake. Dave

Saturday, February 25

Denis spotted a Short-eared Owl around 4:00 this afternoon flying along the Main Ring Berm. Dave

Wednesday, February 22

Most locations of the Lab were fairly quiet this morning. The major exception was the large flock of blackbirds along East Wilson Road. The makeup was mostly male Red-winged Blackbirds with several females mixed in. Also in the flock were several Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds; both new birds for the year. Another new bird for the year was a Killdeer herd flying over Lake Logo. This tied for the earliest sighting for this species. Not too much variety with the waterfowl today with American Black Ducks, an American Wigeon, and Common Mergansers in just about any area with open water. The American Coots have been in the Main Injector Moat for six weeks now. A Bald Eagle was seen picking at a fish on the small amount of ice remaining on Main Ring Lake. It then flew to a tall dead tree about 100 yards away and was still there more than an hour later. The Great Horned Owl was still on her nest. Some of the other highlights were Great Blue Heron, Northern Harrier, Long-eared Owl, Hairy Woodpecker, Horned Lark, Blue Jay, American Crow (oddly seen in three different locations), and Song Sparrow. Dave

Sunday, February 19

First of all Peter said he had seen Sandhill Cranes flying over the Lab during the past week. This equals the earliest sighting of the year from over ten years ago, typically the earliest sighting of the year is in the first week of March. We started this morning's birding in the Sparrow Hedge area with a good deal of song in the air. The majority of the singing was from Black-capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinals and Red-winged Blackbirds. Other birds of note in the area were Common Mergansers, a Hooded Merganser, a Northern Shrike, American Crows, Blue Jays, and a Fox Sparrow. Also a rabbit was seen along the trail; the first I have seen in the Lab for quite awhile. The Big Woods was also quite active with woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees. Some of the interesting sightings in the Ring Area were American Black Duck, American Wigeon, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, American Coots and Eastern Bluebirds. Denis' group had many of the same birds in addition to a couple of Ring-necked Ducks and a Cooper's Hawk. Surprisingly, Cooper's Hawks have been hard to come by at the Lab early this year, this being only the second sighting for the year. Finally, a couple of Bald Eagles were reported in the Nepese marsh area later in the day. Dave

Wednesday, February 15

It was a very quiet afternoon of birding today at the Lab, but things picked up as the daylight diminished. Some of the birds seen were a pair of Hooded Mergansers, a Great Blue Heron, several American Coots still in the Main Injector Moat, a Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebirds, and a Red-winged Blackbird. As darkness approached hundreds of Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers filled the open patch of water in Main Ring Lake. The Great Horned Owl nest was still occupied with the male guarding about 20 yards away. A pair of Northern Harriers were again hunting the South Eola Road area. The male called when a flushed Great Horned Owl flew near its immediate hunting territory. Later, just before dark I watched as the harrier mobbed the owl now in a small stand of trees. The harrier flew through the trees a couple of times and as it flew off a Short-eared Owl called and then took over the mobbing activity. The Short-eared Owl took two passes at the Great Horned Owl then flew high and off to a hunting area somewhere to the west. An Eastern Screech-Owl was contacted as the rain started to fall and in Kautz Road Woods a pair of Great Horned Owls responded with hoots and barks. Dave

Sunday, February 12

Wind was the main deterrent for this morning's birding but there were still some interesting sightings. Again there were slim numbers of interesting waterfowl including an American Widgeon, several Ring-necked Ducks, Common Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers. Fox Sparrows were still at the eastern edge of the Sparrow Hedge, Horned Larks were still in the north roads area, and a Great Blue Heron was on the Swan Lake shoreline. Eastern Bluebirds were seen working some tree cavities along West Wilson Rd. Pine trees seemed to be the place to catch some rays this morning. A Red-tailed Hawk and Great Horned Owl were found on the south side of a couple of pines, out of the wind, in two separate locations. Seen from a distance, Denis and his class chased down and confirmed a Rough-legged Hawk just north of the buffalo feeders. Denis also found a Long-eared Owl and Northern Shrike inside the Main Ring. Lastly, the only new year birds were several Eastern Meadowlarks found by Denis along North Eola Road. Dave

Wednesday, February 8

Many of the same waterfowl were still around the Lab this morning, but the numbers of Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes were down considerably. Other waterfowl of note were American Black Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and Hooded Mergansers. Five American Coots still remain in the Main Injector Moat. A hike along Kress Creek produced the first White-throated Sparrows of the year but little else. Horned Larks were also near this area. Several Great Horned Owls were located and, finally, the first nest of the year. One of the Great Horned Owls was being mobbed by six American Crows in a pine tree on West Wilson Road; the six crows together being the oddity here. The highlight of the morning came early, around 8:00 am, when I spotted a beautiful pair of Northern Harriers hunting on the west side of North Eola Road. As the male crossed the road and I followed with my binoculars, a Short-eared Owl came into my field of view. The owl continued to hunt for several minutes then went down on some prey. Dave

Sunday, February 5

March-like weather conditions continued at Fermilab this morning. This trend was more evident by the amount of both bird movement and singing throughout the Lab. We started out at Lake Law and the Sparrow Hedge area with good results starting with two new species for the year including a Lesser Scaup and five flyover Tundra Swans. Other highlights in the area were Several Cackling Geese and Common Goldeneye, lots of Common Mergansers, a Northern Shrike, Five Blue Jays, a couple of American Crows, numerous Horned Larks (in the fields south of the Hedge), and several Red-winged Blackbirds. A second Northern Shrike was found inside the Main Ring. The first American Wigeon for the year was located inside the Ring along with American Black Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, a Ruddy Duck, a Hooded Merganser, American Coots, and Song Sparrows. Finally, Eastern Bluebirds continue to be a solid line for the year's records. Dave

Thursday, February 2

Foggy and virtually windless conditions this morning provided some good birding with interesting results. First a large circuit of the Sparrow Hedge area produced some new year birds with a White-crowned Sparrow, several Fox Sparrows and a first-ever February sighting of a female Eastern Towhee. Another first-ever February sighting was a Yellow-rumped Warbler pished in with a group of Black-capped Chickadees in the woods along Giese Road. The American Robins around the Sparrow Hedge were well dispersed outside the deeper wooded areas as if it were early spring. Another spring like sign was a Hairy Woodpecker drumming as its mate responded along Indian Creek. Another pair of Hairy Woodpeckers were interacting in the Big Woods. Peter also added a Belted Kingfisher and Ring-necked Ducks from last evening. Dave

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