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June, 2012 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Author: Peter Kasper

May July
Jun 26Jun 24Jun 23Jun 16Jun 10Jun 7Jun 5

Tuesday, June 26

Today was another very pleasant mid- to late-morning of birding at Fermi, with warm, sunny conditions and a mild breeze. Going by the south end of Dusaf Pond, there once again was a large group of more than 20 Cedar Waxwings acting as swallows. The drought conditions of the area should provide a good venue for the upcoming fall shorebird migration. A.E. Sea is one of the leading bodies of water with exposed shoreline. Already many Killdeer were using the area of A.E Sea near the Lake Law outflow today. A.E. Sea also had a good number of swallows along the western shore. Interestingly, most of these were Northern Rough-winged Swallows (which typically are a minority species in this area of the Lab). The lowering level of the Sea of Evanescence provided foraging for at least 47 Great Blue Herons, several Great Egrets and more Killdeer. A Sedge Wren was seen carrying either nest material or food in the Switchgrass plots. The wren dropped into the grass, deposited the item, flew back up and started singing before I could determine the identity of the item. The Swenson Rd. American Kestrels are still in the area of the nest box. The female Osprey was in the nest using her outstretched wings to shield the two chicks from the sun. Then the male Osprey arrived with a fish and the family immediately went into breakfast mode. Some other interesting sightings were an Orchard Oriole (in the Hedge area), a Caspian Tern (flying along the Main Ring Moat), a Cooper's Hawk (flying over Main Ring Woods), a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a Scarlet Tanager (both along the west edge of the Big Woods). Dave

Sunday, June 24

Denis brought his class to the Lab this morning and helped fill some gaps for the week with a Black-crowned Night-Heron (at Kidney Pond), an Eastern Phoebe (in the Garden Club) and an Orchard Oriole (on the eastern edge of Main Ring Woods). In addition, they spotted the first Caspian Tern of the year (over Lake Law). Dave

Saturday, June 23

Conditions were quite nice for the early morning start of my breeding bird survey but became less pleasant as the morning wore on. Luckily, the mostly cloudy conditions still kept it bearable. No Grasshopper Sparrows were found and the number of Henslow's Sparrows was down from earlier in the month. On a positive note the first Sedge Wren was found in the Switchgrass plots. Interestingly, Sedge Wrens first showed up about this same time last year. The American Kestrels from the Swenson Road nest box still are in that area while the Sparrow Hedge nest box family has relocated (where?). The Cooper's Hawk chicks are getting bigger and all three were perched calmly on the north rim of the nest. Ma Osprey was patiently feeding her two young while Pa apparently had "gone fishing". Some other interesting sightings started with a Black-billed Cuckoo inside the Main Ring. Several individual Cedar Waxwings were found early then, on my way out, over a dozen were continually hawking insects over Dusaf Pond; it was a feeding frenzy. A couple of Great Horned Owls were flushed from one of the nest sites. Dave

Saturday, June 16

A mild breeze and mostly cloudy conditions created a pleasant morning of birding today. Most of the expected birds were found in the Sparrow Hedge area with Brown Thrashers still one of the predominate singers. The Bald Eagle was back atop its perch along A.E. Sea by Owl's Nest Woods. Also found were a Baltimore Oriole and a singing Bell's Vireo near the western end of the Hedge. The young Coopers Hawks in the Garden Club nest appeared fine but more subdued than last week. The male American Kestrel was atop the Swenson Road nest box then flew, empty handed, to a nearby tree. As he landed I could hear the young kestrels start begging from the same tree; sorry kids "no breakfast for you!" Henslow's Sparrows were heard along North Eola Rd. From a distance I could see young alongside the Female Osprey in the nest. Later, as I approached the nest area the female was seen flying away. While setting up my scope the female returned with a fairly large branch and started to carefully place the branch in the nest structure. At this point the largest of the young birds picked up one end and tried to assist her in her task. Seeing his efforts were not of much help he grabbed another smaller branch and started positioning it. This was a real cool experience. Dave

Sunday, June 10

As the temperatures rose the increasing winds kept the morning's birding conditions bearable. The wood ticks were quite active; I came home with five of the little buggers. The American Kestrel family from the Sparrow Hedge nest box appears to have moved to another location but it hasn't been confirmed yet. The White-eyed Vireo was again calling near the eastern end of the Hedge and a Bell's Vireo was heard across from the Hedge near its western end. It's been a banner year for Brown Thrashers; they were singing in all areas of the Hedge. In addition, a thrasher family of five birds was flushed from a small group of bushes near the kestrel nest box. The Big Woods produced a Scarlet Tanager while its northwestern edge again produced an Orchard Oriole and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. There were three, very active, young Cooper's Hawks in the Garden Club nest. One of the adult Osprey was seen flying toward the nest with a fish. The adult female American Kestrel flew near the Swenson Road nest box with a small rodent and landed in a bush where she was immediately attacked by one of the young kestrels for its breakfast. Some of the other birds of note for the morning were Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Warbling Vireo, Horned Lark, Henslow's Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow. Dave

Thursday, June 7

This morning was beautiful for a grassland bird survey and the numbers were about average compared to the last two years. The two notable exceptions were the number of Henslow's Sparrows (up slightly)and the number of Dickcissels (up slightly from last year but over three times the number seen in the four preceding years). This is interesting since the Henslow's Sparrows were extremely late in arriving this year. I should add the total lack of Sedge Wrens during this survey was of concern. In addition, none have been found at Fermi yet this year. They were very late last year but, at least some wrens were in by this time. There were other breeding birds of interest starting with the American Kestrels. The Swenson Road nest box had two young birds atop the nest box with the female patrolling nearby. The nest box east of the Sparrow Hedge had both adults near the box but no young were seen. Peter did see some young on Sunday. The Cooper's Hawk nest near the Garden Club was still active with the female standing on the rim. I could not spot any young due to the nest location and the female's position. Spotted Sandpipers appear to have nested inside the Main Injector in their usual location. A pair of Ring-necked Pheasants was found along South Eola Road. Two final birds of note were a Bald Eagle in the trees of Owl's Nest Woods along A.E. Sea (Peter also had this bird on Sunday in the same location) and a Black-crowned Night-Heron spotted by Bob near Nepese marsh yesterday. Dave

Tuesday, June 5

A beautiful morning of birding with moderate temperatures and winds started out at the Sparrow Hedge. The highlight there was a very actively singing White-eyed Vireo at the edge of Owl Nest Woods. A possible second vireo was singing later further west along the Hedge. Both male and female American Kestrels were perched together atop a tall tree approx. 75 yards west of the nest box. The only other birds of mention here were a number of Marsh Wrens along the Lake Law shoreline. This year Marsh Wrens are well distributed throughout the Lab's wetlands. The Switchgrass fields, west of the Lake Law pines, produced a food-carrying Savannah Sparrow along with Dickcissels, Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks. A couple of Henslow's Sparrows were found along North Eola Road. East Wilson Street produced a Cooper's Hawk, Cedar Waxwings, Horned Larks, a Vesper Sparrow and several Indigo Buntings at the eastern end. Dave

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