Tag Archives: brown thrasher

A Good Friday Count!

Singing Brown Thrasher by tower today.

Today, Friday April 14 saw the return of another moderate flight of birds over the dunes.  Though winds were east overnight, they quickly turned southeast after dawn, which served to facilitate some migration today.  The icterid flight was lower than has been seen in recent weeks, but when combined with the overall diversity of birds, it was a fine day for a longshore flight.  Early cloud cover kept the tower site cool through 9am, but once the sun starting peeking, the temperatures ramped up to 70 degrees, and a moderate hawk flight began, including the season’s first Broad-winged Hawks!  The day’s final tally was 73 species, comprised from 5,648 individual birds.

Red-breasted Nuthatch next to the tower today.

New for the season were Red-breasted Nuthatch, Broad-winged Hawk, Lark Sparrow, Solitary Sandpiper, and Chimney Swift.  It was a day for birds to put on full song.  Many species hung around the tower and posed for photos as well during the morning hours.   The Lark Sparrow came flying in past the tower low, and eventually would hang around the feeder area off and on for several hours today.  The nuthatch, to the right also flew directly overhead and landed in the cottonwoods next to the tower and played it’s tin horn a few times before moving west.

The hawkflight began in earnest, with a few sharpies and kestrels on the move. Once things began to warm up, the buteos showed up.  First with a single Red-tailed Hawk here and Red-shouldered there.  For the day 215 raptors were logged, with Sharp-shinned leading the pack with 55.  43 Red-tailed Hawks were logged, as well as 23 Broad-wings.  164 Sandhill Cranes also joined in the thermal guide today, likely emptying out what leftover birds remained in the Kankakee River area.

Poor but identifiable photo of Lark Sparrow at feeders today.
Pine Warbler in nearby Jack Pines today.  

Other notables for the day included a parade of Purple Finches.  Small flocks of 10-20 moved by overhead, totaling nearly 100 for the morning.  The 31 flickers was down significantly from the past few days, but still notable.  Finally, 13 Gnatcatchers was the season’s best showing, alongside 104 Yellow-rumped Warbler (and one Pine Warbler).

Today’s complete list is here.  Tomorrow looks to be an even better day with several new arrivals.  The Dunes Longshore count sits at 132 species for the year.  For those in the dunes area tomorrow, the park will be hosting a special Woodcock Walk.  We’ll be carpooling from the main entrance parking lot to see the special sky dance of this amazing bird.  The program is free and begins at 7:30pm (CDT).

Eastern Bluebird hanging out on the tower ramp today.




South Winds Flanked

As predicted, southern winds began to waft in early Wednesday morning.  The day started cold, well below freezing, but soon warmed to the upper 50s.  Similarly, today, Thursday ,April 14 also began chilly (35 degrees) and also warmed with slightly stronger winds.  The winds the last few days have been unusually oriented from the east, rather than west.  A strong system near Greenland is cycling wind our way with what they call an Omega blocking pattern stopping fronts from pushing east.

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One of several Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers the last few days.

Today’s report is a two day summary for both Wednesday and Thursday.  As predicted, the pulse of warm air has brought new migrants in, with each Thursday out doing Wednesday.  Hopefully Friday will out perform Thursday!  For Wednesday, we logged 78 species, comprising 2,758 individual birds.  On Thursday we tempered the species count to 71, but amassed 4,539 total birds for two day total of 7,297 birds.

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Brown Thrasher singing in the morning haze Wednesday.

Highlights on Wednesday were 85 raptors, 4 Bonapartes Gulls, nearly every woodpecker (except Hairy), a singing Brown Thrasher, the season’s first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, both kinglets, the seasons’ first Pine Warbler, and good influx of Chipping Sparrows.

Highlights for Thursday included 7 late White-winged Scoters, a Ruddy Duck, 35 late Sandhill Cranes, a significant Northern Flicker movement totaling 196 birds, Cliff Swallow, two gnatcatchers, an early Palm Warbler, and a decent blackbird movement with many Rusty Blackbirds still moving through (243 today).

The last two days have added 6 new species to bring the tower list to 126 species for the year.  How’d we do with our wish list of 20 species to be added before Monday?  Birds checked off are in bold.  6 down, 14 to go!

Green Heron
Little Blue Heron
Broad-winged Hawk
American Golden Plover
Solitary Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Henslow’s Sparrow
Short-eared Owl
Chimney Swift
Brown Thrasher
Cliff Swallow
Bank Swallow
House Wren
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Pine Warbler
LeConte’s Sparrow
Henslow’s Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow

Radar Wednesday night around 1:00am

An interesting phenomenon with the recent easterly winds can be seen by watching the radar at night.  With the winds the last two nights, there has been evident bird migration occurring on the radar at night.  The standard overnight radar in migration is the classic donut shape, showing thousands of birds in the air at the moment.  See to the right.  To learn more about reading radar for birds, visit this link. The image seen here was taken overnight Wednesday around 1:00am.

If you visit a good radar archive site such as here, you can see time lapse and regional reflectivity to watch the radar from several locations.  The image below was captured just after sunset Wednesday  night.  You can see the exodus of birds along the eastern side of the lake, from the Indiana Dunes north… exactly where the easterly winds were likely pushing birds against the last few days.

Radar Wednesday night at dusk.

Winds should continue a southern trend, with more south than east as the next few days progress.  We should knock off a few new species Friday-Sunday.  You can read the full Wednesday list and Thursday list for all the species seen.


The One That Got Away

Today, Tuesday, April 9 had yet again another significant migration witnessed over the Indiana Dunes.  It was a special day in that we surpassed our grand total from 2012, with an incredible amount of migration still to go.  It is amazing how weather patterns play havoc with migration and alter what we see in any particular season.  Unlike yesterday’s clear blue skies (afternoon!) , today was significantly different, being overcast most of the day.

Comparison of yesterday's birding view vs. today's view.
Comparison of yesterday’s birding view vs. today’s view.

Continuing the never-ending March migration, blackbirds and robins continue to spill through the area, tacking on large counts that bring up the final tally.  Clearly, Red-wings and American Robins are starting to wane, but grackles continue to go strong.  11,501 grackles migrated over head today.  But, 6,392 Red-winged Blackbirds also continued their journey northward.

New to this list for the season were Brown Thrasher and Chimney Swift.

Another hawk flight occurred today.  Under a nice south wind, and good cloud coverage that made seeing raptors easy, 100 birds of prey were logged.  The best bird of the afternoon may be the one that got away.  A possible immature Ferruginous Hawk circled briefly.  Our counter packed up and headed west in an attempt to intercept the bird 10 miles away, but was unsuccessful.  Other birders heeded the call to sub in at the tower site and count raptors while the chase went on.  The strange buteo was never re-located, but a good mix of both buteos, accipiters, and falcons were enjoyed this afternoon.

Pete Grube assisting in today's hawkwatch.  4/9/13
Pete Grube assisting in today’s hawkwatch. 4/9/13

With today’s 20,755 birds, the new season total is 298,961.  We’ve passed 1/4 million birds and hitting 1/2 million doesn’t seem all that impossible this year.  Tomorrow doesn’t look so good for a morning flight, with north winds entering the scene tonight.  There will be a brief flight Thursday as southeast winds pump in and we look to surpass 300,000 birds.  Then, things are back down again for Friday and Saturday as a strong cold front moves in.  We hope to be back again then on Sunday to resume the longshore flight.

Today’s other highlights below:

American Wigeon 1
Blue-winged Teal 4
Green-winged Teal 1
White-winged Scoter 3 (still going strong!)
Long-tailed Duck 1
Red-throated Loon 1
Common Loon 8
Osprey 4
Northern Harrier 22
Sharp-shinned Hawk 33
Cooper’s Hawk 4
Red-shouldered Hawk 6
Red-tailed Hawk 7
Rough-legged Hawk 1
American Woodcock 1
Ring-billed Gull 35 (low count)
Caspian Tern 17
Long-eared Owl 1 (still roosting near Green Tower site)
Chimney Swift 1 (FOY)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 13
Northern Flicker 201 (another nice flight)
American Kestrel 9
Peregrine Falcon 2
Purple Martin 2
American Robin 1220
Brown Thrasher 1 (FOY)
American Pipit 2
Lapland Longspur 14
Yellow-rumped Warbler 6
Vesper Sparrow 2
Fox Sparrow 3
Red-winged Blackbird 6392
Common Grackle 11501

Sharp-shinned Hawk in today's hawkwatch, 4/9/13
Sharp-shinned Hawk in today’s hawkwatch, 4/9/13