Rock Cut State Park Christmas Bird Count

Rock Cut State Park

Sunday, December 14th, was our first Christmas Bird Count (CBC) of the winter. The Rock Cut State Park CBC [count code ILRC] is a brand new count, covering Rock Cut State Park and much of Boone County Illinois. The Birdfreak Team is completely in charge of creating, organizing and compiling this new count.

Groups were assigned areas and we had 19 participants. The weather forecast was unusual; a high of almost fifty degrees, windy (30+ MPH) and rainy. The hardest obstacle on this count was the ice from melted snow that covered many of the trails and parking areas.

Herring Gulls digiscoped at many many feet away
Herring Gulls

Being that this was the first count EVER for this area, we didn’t know what to expect. Contained in the 15-mile diameter circle are several great forest preserves and a lot of country roads and open fields. With the wind keeping birds down, we managed a respectable 47 species. Area coverage was incomplete, so it is highly likely we could have topped 50 species.

Of course, Christmas Bird Counts aren’t the same as “Big Days” in the sense that it isn’t the number of species but the exact (well, as close as possible) count of the birds in a given area on a specific day. We tallied 11,952 individual birds, 62.39% of these being Canada Geese.

While nothing extraordinarily rare was spotted, several good finds included 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 4 Northern Shrikes, and 26 Pine Siskins. Next year we plan to do more scouting and spread the teams out a bit more to find even more birds.

Gulls Eating A Fish

4 thoughts on “Rock Cut State Park Christmas Bird Count

  1. Sounds like y’all had a pretty good outing, especially considering the weather conditions. I can’t imagine counting almost 7500 geese in one day, though. That takes fortitude!

  2. Yes it was a lot of fun and thankfully, not all the geese were counted by one group!

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