2009 was the fifth consecutive year I’ve counted for the Rockford Christmas Bird Count. Birds were low in numbers but some of the highlights were pretty impressive. We still have two counts left to go this season including the second year of the Rock Cut Christmas Bird Count which we created last year.
The biggest highlight just because they are always so cool was the five Bald Eagles we spotted. The one pictured was the most impressive as it glided in along the river and posed before taking off again.
Another big highlight was a couple Northern Harriers. The photo didn’t turn out as well but this beauty floated gracefully and low over a field.
Walking was fairly slow going with the uneven and icy snow but we managed (like every year) to hike our booties off. There were numerous trees with snow damage, specifically at Sugar River Forest Preserve, a place we enjoy camping. Many of the pine trees had downed limbs from the heavy snow.
Lunch time was spent at a hunting lodge where the wonderfully friendly hunting club is always willing to open up to us birders and let us watch their feeders. These feeders are a constant explosion of Black-capped Chickadees, White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers and more. We estimated around 35 chickadees competing for feeder space.
We will update the count total after we get the numbers but our contribution was certainly adequate on a chilly, windy, low bird day.