Get Along Grackles

Thursday, April 2 brought the warmest dawn start for the longshore count this season.  The air was full of smell, as the warm and moist breeze blanketed the dunes with humidity and newly arrived birds.  Strong thunderstorms arrived around 4am, and passed through with enough time for a dawn flight before the next round would arrive later in the morning.

Dark storm clouds roll over Lake Michigan this morning.  4/2/15
Dark storm clouds roll over Lake Michigan this morning. 4/2/15

This morning, a good contingent of spring song could be heard.  Towhees, phoebes, kinglets, sapsuckers, and flickers could all be heard making noise.  But it was the grackles that stole the show.  By 9am the duneland area had been emptied of every single grackle to find.  These lanky blackbirds, with their larger tails and longer bodies streamed over the beach and foredunes heading west.  Before it was done, 19,300 grackles flew past, more than any other bird today.  Red-winged Blackbirds were not far behind with 10, 731, and Rusty Blackbirds brought 826 to accompany them.

As mentioned earlier, the warm air brought many new arrivals.  First of the year birds included, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Chipping Sparrow, and Vesper Sparrow.  At the nature center, a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet was a new annual bird.

Other goodies included Long-tailed Duck (3), Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (27), a good 215 count of Northern Flickers, 159 Tree Swallows, and a single Purple Finch.

North winds look to enter the area for the next day or so.  Perhaps some flight will occur by Saturday.  Today’s full list below.

Wood Duck 2
Mallard 6
Green-winged Teal 4
White-winged Scoter 3
Long-tailed Duck 3 
Bufflehead 1
Common Merganser 3
Red-breasted Merganser 41
Common Loon 5
Double-crested Cormorant 15
Great Blue Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 2
Northern Harrier 3
Sharp-shinned Hawk 2
Sandhill Crane 2
Killdeer 9
Ring-billed Gull 104
Herring Gull 3
Caspian Tern 2
Rock Pigeon  1
Mourning Dove 11
Belted Kingfisher 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 27
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 215
American Kestrel 1
Peregrine Falcon 2
Eastern Phoebe 4
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 7
Purple Martin 1
Tree Swallow 159
Barn Swallow 1 
Cliff Swallow 1 
Black-capped Chickadee 4
Tufted Titmouse 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 1
Eastern Bluebird 7
American Robin 1143
European Starling 20
Cedar Waxwing 14
Lapland Longspur 25
Yellow-rumped Warbler 4
Eastern Towhee 4
American Tree Sparrow 5
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 4
Vesper Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 4
Dark-eyed Junco 23
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 10731
Eastern Meadowlark 4
Rusty Blackbird 826
Common Grackle 19388 finish.
Brown-headed Cowbird 420
House Finch 17
Purple Finch 1
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 44


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