Snowless Start

Yesterday’s longshore flight took place on the last day of February.  To call it February seems a dis-service to the month that typically brings us a groundhog yanked out of the ground among a mob of humans looking for winter to end.  Yet, we end February with 60 degrees, among a month full of warmth, and a spring bird migration weeks ahead of normal.  It was just announced that the Chicago area recorded its first ever January and February with no measurable snow on the ground!  Will March come in like a lion or lamb?  Or will the warm south winds continue the march of migrants?

With one last day of good south winds, we did do a longshore flight today. With full clouds, and spotty rain, it’s understandable that the count was lower than what it could have been.  However, it did have it’s surprises.  as to be expected this early in the season, waterfowl diversity is up. 16 species of ducks, loons, and geese were spotted from the tower.  Early Wood Ducks are already arriving and after a winter of only a few Red-throated Loons, they are appearing now with some regularity.  Six were seen.

long eared owl bourden
Long-eared Owl near the Green Tower site in 2013. Photo courtesy Mike Bourden,

The find of the day was the Long-eared Owl roosting in a cedar tree not far from the tower site.  They are annual on our longshore survey, but not typically this early.

The day’s entire list is posted below for 2/28/17.

Greater White-fronted Goose  36
Canada Goose  5
Wood Duck  3
Gadwall  3
Mallard  2
Northern Shoveler  5
Redhead  35
Ring-necked Duck  3
Lesser Scaup  5
White-winged Scoter  14
Bufflehead  2
Common Goldeneye  1
Common Merganser  4
Red-breasted Merganser  6
Red-throated Loon  6
Horned Grebe  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Killdeer  40
Ring-billed Gull  314
Herring Gull  1
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Mourning Dove  2
LONG-EARED OWL  1
American Crow  5
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
American Robin  144
European Starling  20
Cedar Waxwing  6
American Tree Sparrow  1
Field Sparrow  1
Fox Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco  4
Song Sparrow  5
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  219
Common Grackle  12
House Finch  1
House Sparrow  5

 

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