Summing up the Spring.

In this most likely the last blog of the season, I would like to share some summaries of this past month, and this past season.  But first, here are the recent lists from the 29th, 30th, & 31st.  A photo of a 1st summer male Orchard Oriole that was found today can be seen above.

In the month of May, 175 species were found by the tower.  My personal count of individuals for the month was 37,249.

The combined total of individual birds counted on all the days I visited the tower this spring was 136,879.

At least two state records of single-day all time high counts were broken at the tower this spring.  On April 12th 79 Eastern Phoebes broke the state record, and on April 13th 5,064 Rusty Blackbirds set the new state record high count.

Regarding the single-day all time high counts for just the tower site, 56 species either tied or broke the previous record.

Eventually all species’ seasonal totals will hopefully be available to see in the tab labeled “Longshore count results”.

Although Spring migration is winding down in this area, don’t let that discourage you from birding here in the Indiana Dunes in the Summer; there’s a really nice selection of breeding bird species to see here too!


Today’s exciting finds…

Today, there were light winds from the south again, and the temperature rose fast.  The flight of Blue Jays Cedar Waxwings continues, today 44 Blue Jays & 510 Cedar Waxwings were counted.  But a few of the species that were found today were quite exciting!

One species was a new one for the year at this site, a Henslow’s Sparrow.

At 6:17 A.M., a flock of 10 Red Crossbills flew to the west.  This is now the largest count of them that has ever occurred in the Month of May in Indiana.  There haven’t been numbers like this this late in the spring since the last crossbill irruption in the winter of 2012-2013.

At 7:20 A.M., a Western Kingbird flew right overhead going west.

Overall 56 species were observed today.

Here is today’s complete list…

Wrapping up this week.

In this past week, the most numerous species of birds to count were Cedar Waxwings & Blue Jays.  Yesterday’s morning flight consisted of 164 Blue Jays & 1,395 Cedar Waxwings.  Today there were 96 Blue Jays & 1,601 Cedar Waxwings counted; also 22 Pine Siskins and 40 Indigo Buntings were counted today.  As of this morning, the Northern Bobwhite is now back.

I did a count yesterday evening, probably most notable was the presence of 52 Common Nighthawks, and a singing Whip-poor-will, the first one to be found by the tower site this year.  At least 2 American Woodcocks were heard peenting and displaying in the blowout yesterday evening too.

Here are the complete checklists from today and yesterday…

May 25th (morning)

May 25th (afternoon)

May 26th

Is John Wayne in this one?

Today there were south winds for the first time in a number of days, and there was a decent push of birds.  73 species were found at the tower today, 2 were new for the year.  The new species for the year were Western Meadowlark & Western Kingbird, a real western combo!  The Meadowlark sang a few times from the blowout briefly, and the Kingbird flew east along the lakeshore.

Other highlights today were:

A Common Loon


An Olive-sided Flycatcher was found, this species was new for the year here yesterday.  There were also: 7 Semipalmated Plovers, & a Black-billed Cuckoo.

Some of the fun counts from today include: 43 Eastern Kingbirds, 422 Blue Jays, 1042 Cedar Waxwings, & 11 Pine Siskins.  Yes there are still Pine Siskins around; they’re highest numbers usually fly by here in early May, but it looks like there’s more to go.  Large numbers of Cedar Waxwings & the wide variety of flycatcher species that have been around really indicate that were are near the end of May.  There will probably be waxwing counts way higher than today’s within about a week.

Here are today’s & yesterday’s complete lists.

5/23/2018      5/24/2018

Indiana Dunes Birding Festival 2018

Although it wasn’t seen here at the tower, for just about everyone, the greatest highlight during this year’s birding festival was the White-tailed Kite.  This was the 3rd record of one in Indiana, and as of this morning, it is still present in the same area.

And here are the highlights from the tower site itself.

On Thursday, an American Bittern was seen flying by, 3 tern species were seen (CaspianCommon, & Forster’s), a Merlin Peregrine Falcon flew by, 620 migrating Blue Jays were counted, 253 Cedar Waxwings were counted, a late Golden-crowned Kinglet passed by, and a Clay-colored Sparrow hung out in the blowout.

On Friday, a bit of a decent raptor flight happened.  42 Turkey Vultures flew past, the highest count of them here this year.  A Bald Eagle & 3 Broad-winged Hawks also made up Friday’s raptor highlights.  171 Blue Jays, & 108 Cedar Waxwings were counted, and both Clay-colored Sparrow Lark Sparrow hung out nearby.  The Lark Sparrow can be seen below.


Saturday’s highlights included a Semipalmated Plover, and a Black-billed Cuckoo.

On Sunday, a very interesting thing happened.

The following story took place in a matter of seconds…
I first heard the sound of a Merlin approaching and it came into the blowout from the west. It had a male Baltimore Oriole in its talons! Along came an American Crow. This crow wanted to steal whatever prey the Merlin had, so it dive-bombed the Merlin. The Merlin dropped the oriole, revealing that the oriole was still alive. The crow went in to grab it, and started to carry off the still alive oriole in its beak. The crow dropped the oriole, and after all that, the oriole managed to fly away.

Also seen on Sunday were 2 Philadelphia Vireos,


and a male Summer Tanager in a very interesting stage of molting.




Today, 2 Black-billed Cuckoos were seen.  Yellow-belliedAlderWillow, & Least Flycatchers were present.  A Philadelphia VireoBlue-headed Vireo were nearby.  14 species of warblers were found around the tower including Connecticut Canada.  And we are clearly not done counting Pine Siskins as 35 were counted today.

The recent counts done from the tower can be viewed below.

May 17th (morning)

May 17th (afternoon)

May 18th (morning)

May 18th (afternoon)

May 19th

May 20th

& today, May 22nd.

After the storm.

Winds were good and southerly today, however two severe thunderstorms passed by from the west this morning.  Normally the morning flight of birds starts right after sunrise, but today it seemed like the morning flight didn’t begin until after the first storm.  At least 71 species were identified from the tower today, and 2,373 individual birds were counted.  Two of today’s species were new for the year at this site; Veery & Canada Warbler.  The tower’s year list is now 199.  I wonder what the 200th year bird will be!

The Northern Bobwhite that has been living here for a few days is still around, and a Forster’s Tern was seen.


Some of the fun counts from today include: 789 Blue Jays, 371 Cedar Waxwings, 10 Tennessee Warblers (a new all time high count for the tower), 43 Indigo Buntings (highest count of them here in 2018 so far), 86 Baltimore Orioles (highest count here in 2018), 152 American Goldfinches, & 220 Pine Siskins.  Yes, there are still many Pine Siskins to be counted!

The complete list from today can be viewed here…

Wrapping up the 2nd week of May.

On Tuesday, a Red Crossbill made an appearance at the tower.  Red Crossbills have several different types that can be distinguished if their vocalizations are recorded and analyzed.  Most if not all of the crossbills that passed the tower this Spring were type 2, the most frequent type in this part of the country.  Tuesday’s was identified as a type 4.  According to eBird, the only records of type 4 in Indiana were a number of observations that occurred in the Fall of 2017 here at Indiana Dunes State Park.

On Friday, an afternoon count was done.  Highlights included: the continuing Northern Bobwhite, a single flock of 21 Great Egrets (this number tied the all time high count for this site), a total of at least 5 American Woodcocks displaying, 1 Common Nighthawk, a late Dark-eyed Junco, & a Summer Tanager.  Some pictures were taken of the Junco, Tanager, and the local Eastern Kingbirds…






Here is the list from Friday afternoon.

Today, 65 species were observed from the tower, one was a new one for the year, Willow Flycatcher.  Other highlights included: the Northern Bobwhite, a Peregrine Falcon, the continuing Prairie Warbler, and a Lark Sparrow that visited the feeders.

Below are some pictures of the Bobwhite, Lark Sparrow, and a Lincoln’s Sparrow with White-crowned Sparrows.





Here is this morning‘s complete list.