Summer Birding Series Starting

With the unofficial start of summer going on now, it seems like it’s time to begin planning some summer birding outings. Check out the flier below if you’d like to join bird guides from around the area during June and July.  Each hike is free and is sure to be a great birding experience.

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Pine Siskins never end!

With heavy heat and humidity, things are far different than when things started in March.  However, in March we were happy to see Pine Siskins migrating.  Some three months later, they’re still moving.  99 seen yesterday!  As we enter into Memorial Day Weekend, remember… bird migration is still happening!  Here is yesterday’s complete list of 67 species.

Canada Goose  33
Mallard  4
Double-crested Cormorant  20
Great Egret  3
Green Heron  3
Turkey Vulture  1
Killdeer  1
Ring-billed Gull  10
Caspian Tern  5
Mourning Dove  5
Black-billed Cuckoo  1
Chimney Swift  30
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  4
Red-headed Woodpecker  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  7
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Merlin  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  13
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  1
Alder Flycatcher  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
Eastern Kingbird  18
Warbling Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  2
Blue Jay  146
American Crow  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  4
Purple Martin  19
Bank Swallow  8
Barn Swallow  4
Cliff Swallow  12
House Wren  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Eastern Bluebird  1
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  1
European Starling  3
Cedar Waxwing  2218
Mourning Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
American Redstart  1
Cape May Warbler  1
Magnolia Warbler  1
Pine Warbler  1
Canada Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  1
Field Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  2
Summer Tanager  1
Scarlet Tanager  1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Blue Grosbeak  1     Female.
Indigo Bunting  35
Dickcissel  9
Bobolink  3
Red-winged Blackbird  41
Eastern Meadowlark  2
Common Grackle  35
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Orchard Oriole  1
Baltimore Oriole  12
House Finch  5
Pine Siskin  99
American Goldfinch  18
House Sparrow  2

Migration Waning

Greetings to those joining us.  It’s been a while since we posted an update.  This tends to happen each year around this time.  Things get crazy at the park. Between getting ready for summer visitors, the bird festival, birdathons, and other activities, the blog sometimes takes a hit.  Despite this the birds have been coming.  Migration is still going on, albeit the waves of Robins, Blackbirds, and Grackles are now just a thing of the past.  Even the abundant Yellow-rumped Warbler has all but moved on.  It’s neat to watch the influx of new migrants, then to see them leave, only to be replaced with the next wave, almost perfectly timed.

Counts have been done in recent days with the last of the May migration waves.  These being Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Kingbirds, and flycatchers.  Each day right now still holds promise of new species, though not the 5-6 per day we were seeing in early May.  The Longshore Tower count now stands at 209 species!

The biggest rarity the last few days was a Pacific Loon off shore on May 22.  New arrivals include your typical host of late May species.  They’ve included Mourning Warbler on May 23, Wilson’s and Blackburnian Warbler on May 24, Alder and Acadian Flycatcher at the tower on May 24, and just today, Philadelphia Vireo and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.  The flycatcher sightings are significant, as most flybys would not get ID’d.  These birds take a moment to land nearby and give a call or song to help identify them.  Also singing nearby has been a Black-billed Cuckoo along the park’s western boundary, near the old Johnson hill area.  It was first heard on May 20, and was found again today. This is likely a territorial bird… .always difficult to find in the state.

Speaking of territorial birds, the Blackburnian Warbler, a dunes area specialty nesting bird is back on territory.  If you want to find one, visit the South State Park Road (the old abandoned road bed east of the park entrance) and walk down towards a set of spruce trees.  It is back again this year and one of the few if not only spot in the state you can find one nesting!

Rain has entered with these sounds winds, so counts may be spotty as we finish migration.  It’s been great to count the birds for a fifth year in a row.  We look forward to counting up the entire season total of birds and also doing some more in depth analysis for a possible research project now that we have a good chunk of data to work with.  So thanks for reading with us, following along, and expect a little more here before migration wraps up.

For the last two days counts, visit May 24 here and May 25 here.


Amazing Migration

Thursday, May 12 was a great migration day in the dunes.  The overnight period brought warm southerly winds, but a massive storm cell marched across northern Illinois and into Lake Michigan creating a blockage for migrants, in addition to an excellent pre-dawn lightning show over the lake.  During all of this the dunes remained dry, and those out before the sun rose could hear the chips of warblers and other migrants flying over.

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Cooper’s Hawk hanging out at the bird feeders… not eating bird seed!  

The list was the most diverse yet, with 109 species being recorded.  3,689 individual birds were counted.  The goodies were numerous.  The Grube Magnitude Index, which is used to score the intensity and diversity of our longshore flights was exceptional.  Thursday’s flight was 78.61, which is the fifth highest count recorded from the tower.  49 species really added to the count.  Major contributors were Rose-breasted Grosbeak- 65 (9th largest Ind count) contributed 9.3 points, Eastern Kingbird- the 257 counted (8th largest Ind count) generated 4.28 toward the total, and Yellow Warbler- 16 were tallied, which came to 4.68 Grube Mag points.  Others posting great counts were 1,207 Blue Jays, 311 Balimore Orioles, 448 Pine Siskins, and 476 American Goldfinch.  Wow!

Just this week 13 new species have been added to the annual tower list.  On Thursday, three were added.  Those being Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, and White-winged Dove. Chats are very hard to find in the dunes.  The dove has become nearly an annual from the tower site. Total species now for the year stands at 192.  Will we hit 200 before it’s done?

To read the complete list for Thursday, May 12, check the ebird list here. 

Sky full of Orange!

Greetings from the jam packed Indiana Dunes Birding Festival.  It’s been an amazing weekend of great folks and interesting birds.  Too many to mention right now.  But for now, let’s get an update on the Longshore Flight that took place yesterday, May 7. After two days of north winds, we had a great influx of birds for Saturday morning.  By 9am, a storm front moved through and shifted things back, but in an abbreviated 3.5 hour count, we logged thousands of birds.

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For the brief morning, 6,009 individual birds were counted by our counter and participating birders who packed the tower site.  81 species was the total for the day.

Special highlights included a flyby American Avocet that landed on the beach, Merlin, Sedge Wren, 26 pipits, and 14 Bobolinks.  The 1,196 Pine Siskins was also an amazing count.  This count looks to be the 4th highest state record ever recorded!

As impressive as the siskins are, the Baltimore Oriole flight was spectacular.  Orioles went by in groups of 12 and 14 in a fast action migration, with lots of singing whenever one would stage on a nearby cottonwood.  The former state record was 464 orioles seen by Ken Brock and Jeff McCoy at the same tower in 2003.  Saturday’s count of 536 is the new tentative state record!

For today’s full list, see the eBird post or scroll down below.

Canada Goose  10
Wood Duck  1
Mallard  2
Blue-winged Teal  3
Double-crested Cormorant  20
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  1
Green Heron  4
Turkey Vulture  4
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Sandhill Crane  1
American Avocet  1
Killdeer  1
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Solitary Sandpiper  13
Lesser Yellowlegs  9
Ring-billed Gull  10
Herring Gull  1
Caspian Tern  2
Common Tern  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  1
Mourning Dove  15
Chimney Swift  224
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  3
Red-headed Woodpecker  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Merlin  1
Least Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Eastern Kingbird  82
Warbling Vireo  3
Blue Jay  386
American Crow  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  4
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  5
Bank Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  10
Cliff Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
House Wren  1
Sedge Wren  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  46
Eastern Bluebird  4
American Robin  22
Gray Catbird  1
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  5
American Pipit  26
Cedar Waxwing  30
Tennessee Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow Warbler  18
Palm Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  23
Chipping Sparrow  1
Field Sparrow  1
White-crowned Sparrow  7
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  2
Summer Tanager  1
Scarlet Tanager  9
Northern Cardinal  1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  15
Indigo Bunting  62
Bobolink  14
Red-winged Blackbird  1675
Common Grackle  63
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Orchard Oriole  11
Baltimore Oriole  536
House Finch  3
Pine Siskin  1196
American Goldfinch  1387
House Sparrow  1

Longshore Flight- May 3- Quick Update


After a long string of north winds, it finally looks like we’ll be back in business again.  Though the current forecast has winds wobbling around back and forth, at least some south wind is in the forecast.  This couldn’t have come at better timing with the 2nd Annual Indiana Dunes Birding Festival bringing over 400 birders to the area later this week.

Today, a virtually no wind day sent a few birds flying.  Aside from 391 Blue Jays, no major surprised flew by in the cool, but sunny morning.  Several firsts are now coming in, including Bobolinks, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Sedge Wren, and Gray Catbird.  We’re still seeing flyby Merlins, which are always cool.  The full list is below of all 79 species is below. 1,278 birds total.  To catch up on all the sightings, visit the eBird link.

Canada Goose  6
Wood Duck  6
Mallard  1
Red-breasted Merganser  7
Common Loon  7
Horned Grebe  3
Double-crested Cormorant  16
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  1
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  4
Sharp-shinned Hawk  5
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Sandhill Crane  2
Killdeer  1
Bonaparte’s Gull  2
Ring-billed Gull  10
Herring Gull  2
Caspian Tern  17
Common Tern  4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  30
Mourning Dove  12
Chimney Swift  187
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Red-headed Woodpecker  5
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  4
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
Merlin  1
Eastern Kingbird  3
Warbling Vireo  1
Blue Jay  391
American Crow  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  5
Purple Martin  5
Tree Swallow  54
Bank Swallow  19
Barn Swallow  11
Cliff Swallow  14
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
House Wren  2
Winter Wren  1
Sedge Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Eastern Bluebird  1
American Robin  7
Gray Catbird  1
Brown Thrasher  2
European Starling  16
American Pipit  3
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Chipping Sparrow  3
Field Sparrow  3
White-crowned Sparrow  6
White-throated Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  1
Lincoln’s Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  3
Northern Cardinal  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1
Indigo Bunting  6
Bobolink  1
Red-winged Blackbird  235
Common Grackle  27
Brown-headed Cowbird  4
Orchard Oriole  2
Baltimore Oriole  19
House Finch  10
Pine Siskin  5
American Goldfinch  39
House Sparrow  2