100,000+ Birds in a Week!

Sandhill Cranes migrating over the old Green Tower site today at Indiana Dunes State Park. Photo courtesy Pete Grube.

We began our official Green Tower counter position on March 6.  For folks that may remember, this project has many goals,  and we thought that 1/2 million birds would be seen, as mentioned in a previous post.  Today was one of those milestone days as we inch closer to 1/2 million or higher!  Warm south winds overtook the dunes area, bringing record high temperatures, and another memorable flight.  In fact, today was the second busiest day of the season, with 22,731 individual birds recorded.

Fortunately, yesterday’s counter crew was able to chase the super rare Eurasian Wigeon in the afternoon, leaving this morning’s dawn count un-distracted, while others went out in search of it.

While not on the official count for the day, an early morning Woodcock was heard in the prairies south of the green tower at 6am.  After sunrise, the flight did not disappoint, with a blackbird and grackle count of nearly 15,000 birds!  A couple new birds were seen for the season.  The first Yellow-rumped Warbler was logged today, as well as a single Short-eared Owl.  The owl is always a special treat, and not uncommon to find coming in off of Lake Michigan, especially in the fall.  Today’s bird was found coming out of the nearby woods, out and about, then back in to hide again.

For the fifth day of the count season, Common Redpoll was again logged, this time with a single Pine Siskin to match it.

Tree Swallows come back hungry

Other good birds seen today were more White-winged Scoters (shaping up to be a good spring season for them), a single Glaucous and Great Black-backed Gull, American Pipit, and the highest Tree Swallows yet, with 12 birds seen.  You can’t forget the 5,000 more cranes that passed by today.  Today’s flocks were enormous, as captured by visiting birder Pete Grube today.

Tomorrow brings more south winds and warm temperatures.  It’s exciting to think what new or record new arrivals may show up at dawn.   Call in a sick day and come on out!

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