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.
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.
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).