Friday, April 1, 2011

Birds that spend year round in Northern Illinois

A winter storm coats the foliage with ice, Rockford, IL; 1/17/10.
There are many birds that not only spend the winter in northern Illinois, but spend their summers, springs and falls as well. Like I did with birds that migrate here for winter only, I will divide the year round birds into three categories:

Year Round Birds that I frequently see:
Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, Red-tailed Hawks, Wild Turkeys, Ring-billed Gulls, Rock Doves, Mourning Doves, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downey Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, European Starlings, American Crows, House Finches, American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Northern Cardinals, Song Sparrows, House Sparrows, American Robins*, Red-winged Blackbirds*, Brown-headed Cowbirds*, and Common Grackles*.

* These year round birds I always thought migrated south during winter and returned in spring. For the most part I never see them from November through late February; however, this winter I did see and hear Robins in January and early Feb. (Below) 

Year Round Birds that I occassionally see:
Mute Swans, American Black Duck, Hooded Mergansers, Herring Gulls, Coopers Hawk, Ring-necked Pheasants, Belted Kingfishers, Northern Flickers (Yellow-Shafted), Tufted Titmouse, Cedar Waxwings, and Eastern Bluebirds** (Below Bottom).

Year Round Birds that I very seldom or never see:
Northern Harriers,  Red-shouldered Hawks, American Kestrals, Gray Partridge, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Screech Owls, Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Pileated Woodpeckers,  Horned larks, Carolina Wrens.

Winter American Robins at Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 2/12/11
I heard American Robins chirping away in Rock Cut State Park in Rockford, IL, in mid January, and I couldn't believe my ears. I always thought that Robins migrated south for the winter. Then a couple of weeks later not only did I hear them, I saw a flock of about a dozen (Above) hanging around the spring fed creek in Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve.

An American Robin in winter, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 2/12/11.
**Another bird that I thought migrated south for the winter is the Eastern Bluebird. But after talking with the proprietor of "Wild Birds Unlimited" store, he said that he saw a few eastern Bluebirds in both December and January. I saw one in Rock Cut State Park in late February, while there was still lots of snow on the ground. Now this bird could have arrived early, or it could have spent the winter here.

An Eastern Bluebird that may or may not have spent the winter in Northern Illinois, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 10/3/10. 


Anonymous said...

I am planning a winter birds research project with my second graders. This will be so helpful. I hope to create some lifelong bird enthusiasts!

jon said...

That's great. I hope my amateur photos and info are of help. Good timing. In the near future I as going to add some more photos of N. IL winter birds (New photos of Bald Eagles, White-winged Crossbills, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and Horned Lark, Ring-necked Pheasant.) I hope they get put up in time for your students to use.