The boys and I spent the entire day conducting our part of the Chicago Urban Christmas Bird Count. Nationally, Christmas counts are organized by the National Audubon Society. The Chicago Urban count circle is sponsored by Evanston North Shore Bird Club and Chicago Audubon Society, with Jeff Sanders as the compiler.
Our part of the count covers the following areas in Chicago and Oak Park: Birding on foot in Columbus Park, Douglas Park, and south Oak Park residential areas; feeder watching at our home on South Elmwood in Oak Park; and driving through industrial and residential areas in between these sites.
This year, birding from sunrise to sunset, we found a total of 26 species. The highlights of our day included:
- Four species of hawks, including a MERLIN at Columbus Park (photo below), 2 AMERICAN KESTRELS, 2 COOPER’S HAWKS, and 2 RED-TAILED HAWKS.
- A WINTER WREN beside the Columbus Park lagoon (where we saw this species often through the fall — photo below).
- An AMERICAN PIPIT at Columbus Park, in the same field where we saw a Pipt on December 11 (photo below).
- A SWAMP SPARROW at Columbus Park (photo of its rump, below), plus 20 AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS (15 at Douglas, 5 at Columbus).
We were also pleased that WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES put in 2 appearances, since we’ve been seeing them much more frequently this year. We also were happy to see a BLUE JAY, because they were common this summer, then mostly disappeared within the last few weeks. We were disappointed that overall sparrow numbers were down at Douglas Park, where the golf-course sanctuary often holds 50 or 60 sparrows this late in the year. And we were very sad that we did NOT see the Great Horned Owl that had been roosting near Austin in late November and early December. (We still hope it returns in time to be registered as a count-week species!)
Here’s our entire list for today, with count numbers:
Canada Goose 280
Cooper’s Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 2
American Kestrel 2
Herring Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 5
Rock Pigeon 115
Mourning Dove 45
Downy Woodpecker 4
Hairy Woodpecker 3
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 9
Black-capped Chickadee 9
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Winter Wren 1
American Robin 55
European Starling 350
American Pipit 1
American Tree Sparrow 20
Swamp Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 25
Northern Cardinal 21
House Finch 14
American Goldfinch 30
House Sparrow 180
We also have two count-week species so far for our areas:
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker (seen in Douglas Park 12/17/09)
2 African Collared-Dove and/or African X Eurasian Collared-Dove (seen in south Oak Park 12/18/09). We are soliciting input on these photos, taken on Dec. 18th — what do you think they are?
Here are some of Aaron’s photos from today:
We’ll post links to Ethan’s photos once he gets them online.