On the first day of the count I spent a few hours at Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife Area in LaPorte County. Kingsbury is, I believe, my favorite birding spot in northern Indiana. The wide array of habitat in this approximately 7,000 acre preserve allows for quite a variety of species, from Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) to Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) to Field Sparrows (Spizella pusilla). The photo above is a shot of the marsh at Kingsbury, a great place for waterfowl in the fall-spring and for shorebirds when the water levels are down in the spring and fall. Most of the birds in the photo are easily identified as Canada Geese. Can you name the other species in the photo? You will probably need to click on the photo to expand it to be able to see the other species.
One of my favorite birds is the Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), pictured above and seen at Kingsbury during my Great Backyard Bird Count there. The bird pictured is a male; a female was also there but didn't make it into this shot.
Often found with Hooded Mergansers are Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa), and in this case both ducks were present in a wooded pond at Kingsbury. Like the male Hooded Merganser, the male Wood Duck is one attractive creature.
On Saturday morning, 18 February, Lindsay and I joined Brian Miller and members of South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society for a field trip and count at the lakes at University of Notre Dame. As seen above, we had a pretty nice crowd. St. Joseph's Lake never freezes and has always been a "hot spot" for winter birding in the past because of the variety of waterfowl present. This year, waterfowl were scarce, and we almost had as many people birdwatching as we had ducks! Our highlight was the Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus) shown below.
In addition to counts at these sites, I also did counts on 19 February at our feeders, our property (while walking the trails), and Potato Creek State Park, and on 20 February in Walkerton while driving home from work and on our property while walking our trails. A list of all birds observed during my count is found below.
Great Blue Heron
Eastern Screech Owl
American Tree Sparrow