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June, 2016 Bird Sightings at Fermilab

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

For a late June morning the weather was great for birding today. There were mostly sunny skies, cool temps (to start with and only a moderate increase) and moderate winds. An early visit to Osprey Nest 2 was very quiet with only an adult seen atop it. Later, over Lake Law, I watched an Osprey circle for about 5 min then fly over toward A.E. Sea. Much later, again over by Nest 2, the female Osprey was busy feeding 3 hungry chicks with a fish (most likely from A.E, Sea) while the male looked down from the perch above. All 3 chicks were equally aggressive, which is a good sign. Interestingly a Red-tailed Hawk was perched atop the new Chimney Swift Tower near the Red Barn. In the Sparrow Hedge area there were many singing Gray Catbirds and a Bell's Vireo carrying food. While pishing the area, I attracted a young coyote. As it stepped out of the hedge it saw me, turned tail, and ran. It was another 11 Osprey morning, starting with the 5 birds from Nest 2, then the 4 birds from Nest 1 and finally the pair from the unsuccessful Nest 3. The Nest 1 chicks, seen late in the morning, were just casually stretching their wings and moving about the nest. The pair of Sandhill Cranes were again observed together on the north side of the Lab. Other highlight birds of note seen during the morning were a pair of Wood Ducks, a Red-tailed Hawk flying off with a small snake, a couple of American Kestrels, a Great Crested Flycatcher, singing Sedge Wrens, Cedar Waxwings, several Bobolinks (one carrying food) and a pair of Baltimore Orioles. Marcia and Gail also found the cranes this morning in the same area. They had all the same birds as me this morning and added Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (2) and an Orchard Oriole. Dave

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Not too much to report from an abbreviated birding session in the Lab this morning. Even though the skies were threatening throughout the morning, not much more than a few showers were the result. The highlight of the morning was finding, most likely, the same pair of Sandhill Cranes Marcia and Gail observed on Thursday. They showed no courtship actions, but appeared closely bonded. Osprey Nest 1's two chicks were active while Nest 2's chicks appeared to be resting and not all were visible. Other than that we only had a female Wood Duck and a female American Kestrel of note. Dave

Thursday, June 23, 2016

There have been two reports of Sandhill Crane activity recently that could eventually lead to their nesting in the Lab. First, on Tuesday, Dave Shemanske reported a Sandhill Crane in a bean field in the south end of the Lab. Next Marcia and Gail today reported a pair of Sandhill Cranes performing a courtship ritual consisting of dancing, calling, and stick tossing. This could tie into the occasional crane traffic we have witnessed, during the spring, of cranes (typically flying low) heading both in north and south directions. Time will tell. Marcia and Gail also reported some other sightings of interest this morning. The highlights were Green Herons (2), Turkey Vultures (2), Spotted Sandpipers (an adult with 2 young), a Henslow's Sparrow, Dickcissel (6) and a Bobolink (only one - it's not been a good year for this species). Dave

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It was another beautiful summer morning for monitoring grassland birds; sunny, warm (not hot) with minimal winds early. The trend of diminishing Dickcissels (13 in survey areas) and Bobolinks (16) continues over the last several years. Sedge Wrens (5) were up over the last 5 years but down from 6 and 7 years ago. Henslow's Sparrows (11) and Eastern Meadowlarks (13) remain fairly flat. No Grasshopper Sparrows were found today. There is now a record 11 Ospreys in the Lab. Osprey Nest 1 contains 2 chicks and Nest 2 contains 3 chicks. Osprey Nest 3 appears to be like the Cubs of old and "waiting until next year." Interestingly, one of the Osprey was alongside Nest 3 when a Red-tailed Hawk swooped down and flushed the Osprey from the nest area. We have recently witnessed at least one other Osprey/ Red-tailed Hawk interaction in this area. This may be another factor affecting the success of this nest since the nest is in a longtime Red-tail territory. Also found this morning were a Bald Eagle, two Turkey Vultures and four American Kestrels. Dave

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A walk around the Sparrow Hedge/Lakes Region did not produce much of significance. Several Chimney Swifts were flying over the Lake Law Berm, but showed no interest in the tower installed last year. Cedar Waxwings are showing up in increasing numbers as are Great Egrets (9 on A.E. Sea). Also found was a Wood Duck, a Bell's Vireo (singing near the west end of the Hedge) and an Orchard Oriole. The grasslands on the southwest of the Sparrow Hedge did produce most of the desired grassland birds including many Bobolinks (10-15), some Dickcissels (3-4), Field Sparrows (2), Henslow's Sparrows (2), and Eastern Meadowlarks (4). Early in the morning the female Osprey on Nest 2 was feeding in the nest but did not appear to be feeding any young. There did appear to be some movement in the bottom of the nest however. Much later in the morning at least one chick was confirmed. A much larger chick was seen on Nest 1, being quite active as the mother preened alongside. Osprey Nest 3 is becoming quite an enigma, as the female once again appeared to be brooding on the nest. I watched, for several minutes, a coyote was working the edge of a freshly mowed field quite close to the mower. Some of the other birds found during the morning were American Kestrels (3), both Sedge Wrens and Marsh Wrens and a Vesper Sparrow. Dave

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Cooler temps brought relief from the heat of the last couple of days. This had no affect on the mosquitoes, however, which were vicious except if you were in the direct wind. Both Osprey Nests 1 %26 2 still remain either in the late stages of brooding or with hatchlings which were being sheltered by an adult sitting on the nest. Nest 3 appears to be a failure again this year. Both adults were in the area but neither on or at the nest. Four Great Egrets were perched together in a small dead tree on the edge of DUSAF Pond. Peter has been monitoring a Pine Warbler (sometimes 2) on and off since before the Spring Bird Count. Today's contact was not only the first June sighting in the Lab, but also makes it a likely breeder. Some of the other notable birds found during the morning were Sedge Wrens, Cedar Waxwings, Henslow's Sparrows, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and an Orchard Oriole. Dave

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This morning's weather was perfect for monitoring grassland birds with cool temps, sunny skies and calm winds. The only deterrent was the large amounts of water I had to keep pouring out of my boots due to the large amount of (cold) dew on the grassland plants. All the desired grassland birds were represented in the monitored areas. Included and compared with early June surveys were Sedge Wrens (11-up from the last several years), Savannah Sparrow (only 1-down, though never many at monitor the points), Grasshopper Sparrows (2-above average), Henslow's Sparrows (13-a typical count), Dickcissels (14-well below average), Bobolinks (12-less than half of previous years) and Eastern Meadowlarks (18-about average). Most of these species were also located in other locations of the Lab thru the morning. Some other birds worth mentioning were a Green Heron, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a Bell's Vireo and an Orchard Oriole. It appears Osprey Nest 1 has young. The female Osprey appeared to be tending to them. Brooding still appears to continue at Nest 2 with the loyal mate standing watch from above. At Nest 3 one Osprey was on the side when I passed on the way to a monitor point. When leaving this monitor point, an Osprey was seen flying, carrying a fish, from offsite (west) toward Nest 3. Both birds were then together on the nest. The observation of the day was watching a Great Blue Heron fighting with a 3 foot plus Garter Snake. First shaking it, then trying to drown it and finally swallowing it. Marcia and Gail were also in today and had most the same birds as I had, of note were a Spotted Sandpiper and 2 Warbling Vireos, both of which I missed. They also noticed that both Dickcissels and Bobolinks seem to be in short supply so far this season. As far as other grassland species go they had a Sedge Wren, Savannah Sparrows (4), Henslow's Sparrows (2) and Eastern Meadowlarks (3). Dave

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Except for a brisk breeze and the mosquitoes (when you were out of the wind), it was a beautiful morning for birding with continually changing conditions between being sunny to being overcast. Both Osprey Nests 1 and 2 continue to be brooded, but Nest 3 seems to be in an undetermined state. One of the Ospreys was flying near the nest while the other was standing next to the nest. Returning a little later one bird was feeding on a fish about 200 yards away while the other bird was still standing next to the nest. We found a female American Kestrel on the nest box at the end of Swenson Road. It flew to their favorite perching tree about 100 yards away while the male was hovering over a Great Horned Owl in a different tree about 100 yards away in a different direction. Later the female returned to the top of the nest box. Other birds of interest found during the morning were a Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Ducks (9-all flying), Green Herons (2) and a Turkey Vulture. Dave

Friday, June 3, 2016

Mark Donnelly today observed interactions between 3 flying Ospreys in the area of Osprey Nest 1, meanwhile the brooding Osprey on Nest 1 watched and made alarm calls. One of the flying birds approached Nest 1 but was chased off by what was probably the brooding Osprey's mate. This was a very interesting observation by Mark. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to ID who is who in these situations. I made a similar observation last year. My feeling is that the bird (not the mate) trying to approach the nest is a past offspring from that nest. Again impossible to tell for sure. Dave

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Weather was great, but no exciting bird sightings were made. I could not relocate the Grasshopper Sparrows found while monitoring last week. Most other important grassland species were found including Sedge Wrens, Dickcissels (showing up in larger numbers on each trip to the Lab), Savannah Sparrows, Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks. Maybe it's me, but it seems that the number of House Wrens and Great Crested Flycatchers is above average this year. A Cooper's hawk was seen flying near the edge of the Big Woods. Both Osprey Nests 1 and 2 appear to be status quo with brooding in progress. As the girls mentioned yesterday, Nest 3 (the newly made nest this year, but most likely the same pair as last year) was also being brooded. To clarify, last year Osprey pair number 3 showed up late in the season (late May) and made a nest on a pole in a future Fermi construction site. Over the winter a platform was erected (identical to Nest 2) and the original nest materials were placed atop. Even though the Ospreys originally seemed to adopt this new site, it was found that they had made a new nest nearby (in a more secluded location) atop a different power pole. This new location is what we will refer to as Osprey Nest 3. This nesting is about a month behind Nests 1 and 2. It will be interesting if it succeeds. Dave

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Marcia and Gail were out monitoring today, but were hampered by rain early in the morning. Some of their sightings were Turkey Vultures (6), a Hairy Woodpecker, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatchers, a Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbirds, a Warbling Vireo, a Sedge Wren, a Savannah Sparrow, Indigo Buntings and Dickcissels. Their most significant sighting was finding the female Osprey brooding on Nest 3 again. Dave

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