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Article in: Bird Conservation
October 12, 2010

Big Sit! 2010 – Deer Run Forest Preserve [Illinois]

The Illinois half of the Birdfreak Team participated in the Big Sit! 2010 at Deer Run Forest Preserve in Winnebago County in northern Illinois. This was the first year we did the Big Sit! at Deer Run. All the past years have been in Rock Cut State Park (also in Winnebago County) with last year’s event in Missouri.

Deer Run Forest Preserve HDR

For the first year of counting at Deer Run we were unsure how well the numbers would be. The weather was absolutely beautiful with a high of 85 (last year at this time it was in the 30s) and we counted from around 6am to 1pm before the heat and sun got too bad.

Our seats which we were hardly in
Big Sit! 2010

The morning started before day-break with a calling Barred Owl and a “peent-ing” American Woodcock. By the time the sun rose enough to light the foraging sparrows in the brush we had added Great Horned Owl and 11 other species. Unfortunately, we missed out on identifying a flyover flock of ducks and with no other ducks seen, added them as “duck sp.”. (See full list of birds at the bottom of this post.)

The location proved its worth in sparrows although we had one big miss in that department: White-throated Sparrow!!

Skulking White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

Perhaps the best find was when my dad spotted a fast-moving raptor that turned out to be a Northern Harrier. We had no other raptor species and added Turkey Vulture at the end of our count.

We had a pretty long lull between sightings from around 10am to nearly noon. But thankfully Stacia joined our group and provided great conversation.

Then a bit later we were joined by Tim’s wife Michelle and their 10 month old son, William. We weren’t seeing birds so I grabbed some milkweed pods which was a big hit for little William.

Me and William examining milkweed pods
Me and William

Me and William

Overall we did amazingly well and had a great time. The biggest “misses” were the aforementioned White-throated Sparrow plus Red-tailed Hawk and Mallard.

The List 45 species

  1. Barred Owl
  2. American Woodcock
  3. Killdeer
  4. Song Sparrow
  5. Mourning Dove
  6. Canada Goose
  7. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  8. duck sp.
  9. American Crow
  10. American Robin
  11. White-breasted Nuthatch
  12. Black-capped Chickadee
  13. Great Horned Owl
  14. Red-winged Blackbird
  15. American Goldfinch
  16. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  17. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  18. Downy Woodpecker
  19. House Wren
  20. Lark Sparrow
  21. Dark-eyed Junco
  22. Northern Flicker
  23. Chipping Sparrow
  24. Eastern Bluebird
  25. Vesper Sparrow
  26. Field Sparrow
  27. Blue Jay
  28. Rock Pigeon
  29. Common Grackle
  30. Northern Harrier
  31. Lincoln’s Sparrow
  32. Tufted Titmouse
  33. Brown Creeper
  34. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  35. White-crowned Sparrow
  36. Gray Catbird
  37. Cedar Waxwing
  38. European Starling
  39. Brown-headed Cowbird
  40. Northern Cardinal
  41. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  42. House Finch
  43. Eastern Phoebe
  44. Palm Warbler
  45. Turkey Vulture

Part of a large group of Red-winged Blackbirds that we searched in vain but could not find Rusty or Brewer’s mixed in.
Red-winged Blackbirds

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