Birding is important on many levels and on Saturday it provided a great escape from the terrible happenings at NIU on Valentine’s Day. We were signed up to lead visitors around the roads of Nygren Wetlands, a spectacular natural area in the northern part of Winnebago County. The Natural Land Institute was holding a Winter Festival to coincide with the Great Backyard Bird Count, so our “backyard” was over 700 acres of some fine habitat.
The weather was cold but the sun was out and despite a general lack of birds, it was a fun time. Only a handful of people showed up but to be out at Nygren in the winter provided a unique look of a place normally teeming with wildlife. The water was mostly frozen and the prairie was snow-packed, but the clean snow provided great opportunities to track the various animals passing through – coyotes, foxes, mice, rabbits, deer, and pheasants.
The top birds we found were two that we never see in our own backyard – a Rough-legged Hawk and a 1st year Bald Eagle.