03 March 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count - A Late Recap

The 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count was conducted on 17-20 February, and I'm just now getting a chance to provide a recap of results from my four-day count.  Results can be posted to the GBBC webpage until 5 March; at this point, Indiana has a total of 138 species, a new state record for the count period.

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.

Our most common hawk, especially along roadsides, is the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicense, above).  Kingsbury is a great place to see raptors, especially Red-tailed Hawks and in winter Bald Eagles and Rough-legged Hawks (Buteo lagopus).

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.

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Horned Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Eastern Screech Owl
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
American Kestrel
Wild Turkey
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Crow
Blue Jay
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebird
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

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