2006 Fermilab Bird Report
For more information see the
"Birds of Fermilab" web pages.
The 2005 Christmas Bird Count recorded 49 species
icluding a Lesser Scaup which is the first
time this species has been recorded on the
Fermilab part of the count. Record high counts were
also obtained for Common Goldeneye (135
which shatters the previous high of 18),
Cooper's Hawk (8),
Wilson's Snipe (4),
Horned Lark (48),
Eastern Bluebird (8) and
Fox Sparrow (7). On the other
hand record low counts were recorded for
Rock Pigeon (1) and
American Crow (0). The absence of crows
is a consequence of the devastation caused by West Nile virus.
|Lesser Scaup (Photo by Gene Oleynik)
The Pied-billed Grebe that wintered
on the main ring moat last winter, was back and once again saw out the winter
on its favorite section of the main ring moat. Waterfowl in general were readily
found throughout the remainder of the winter, reflecting a trend which could
well be attributed to global warming.
Rarities recorded this winter included a Bald
Eagle and an immature Thayer's Gull.
The early spring migration produced few surprises. The most unusual finds were a
Merlin and a Common
Loon. Of particular interest however, was the March 15th arrival of
American Woodcocks at their display
grounds in the southern half of the main ring. This was important because the
entire ring had been burnt earlier in the season and there was some concern that
they might return. It appears that they do not mind, provided the burn occurs
before they arrive.
|Common Loon (Photo by Ann Sullivan)
Late spring is when birders turn their attention from the lakes to the woods
since at this time of year waterfowl migration has tailed off and warbler
migration starts up. This year however was an exception to that rule. The
number and variety of warblers (and other land birds) was very disappointing
whereas migrant waterfowl persisted on site well into May. The biggest surprise
was a female Bufflehead that was still to be
found on A.E.Sea on May 22. Apart from the late waterfowl, the most unusual
find during this period was a Western
Meadowlark inside the Main Ring on May 8.
The most significant event this summer was the confirmation of breeding
King Rails in the Lake Logo area. On July 23 and
24 an adult bird was observed along the shores of the lake accompanied by two
chicks. We even got to watch the adult catch a crayfish and feed it to the
youngsters. We have suspected that this state endangered species was breeding
in this area ever since one was spotted there on June 9, 2002.
|King Rail (Photo by Jed Hertz)
Other significant breeding records this summer included a
Hooded Merganser on Lake Logo and several
Pied-billed Grebes on A.E.Sea. The
latter is noteworthy because the character of that lake had changed
significantly since last year's drought. This year it contained large amounts of
cattails and other aquatic vegetation that attracted a number a waterbirds not
often seen on site during the summer. Apart from the record numbers of grebes,
we also found a Least Bittern,
Soras, an Osprey, and
an American Wigeon.
For several weeks in the early summer a Clay-colored
Sparrow was repeatedly found singing from the same location in the sparrow
hedge area. This was the first sign of potential breeding on site for this
Fall migration was fairly uneventful. Unlike last year, there was very little
shorebird habitat except for Lake Logo which for reasons unknown, was mostly dry
by the end of summer. The more unusual sightings occurred late in the season
when both Harris's Sparrow and
Le Conte's Sparrow were found on a
couple of occasions. More unusual perhaps were extremely late records for both
Grasshopper Sparrow and
Clay-colored Sparrow in the garden
club area. The latter lingered on until early November.
|Clay-colored Sparrow (Photo by Gary Davis)