APPLE RIVER, Illinois — The Eagle Nature Foundation and the Conservation Guardians of Northwestern Illinois have released the results of the 50th Annual Jo Daviess County Christmas Bird Count as part of the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Counts.
Dec. 16, 21 members counted all of the birds they could see within a circle that is 15 miles in diameter and centered at Schapville, Illinois. While driving a total of 294 miles with a total time of 22.5 hours, they counted 3,291 birds of 46 species, seeing almost 150 birds per team count hour.
The Jo Daviess County count was started in 1965 by Terrence Ingram, who has been the compiler of the count ever since. As if to celebrate his 50th count, Ingram’s Count Team was able to see and document two new rare species, which had never been seen in any of the other many years of these Jo Daviess County counts — a blue pheasant and an Eurasian tree sparrow.
The first count in 1966, conducted by just two people in one vehicle, recorded 1,374 birds of 18 species. This year, the 21 counters in six teams recorded 3,291 birds of 46 species.
In addition to the above-mentioned rare species, the following species, which had never before been seen on this particular Christmas Count, were recorded by the various teams: ring-necked ducks, lesser scaup, ring-billed gulls and trumpeter swans.
Record numbers of bald eagles (55), northern harriers (nine) and American crows (576) were recorded in this year’s count as well, while mourning doves (four) were at their lowest numbers since their previous low of two birds back in 1996.
Species of birds that had been seen on many counts, but were not seen this year, were great blue heron, Cooper’s hawk, great horned owl, Eastern screech owl, red-headed woodpecker, red-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, song sparrow, white-throated sparrow, and pine siskin.
Ingram, who for more than 40 years has predicted what the upcoming winter is going to be like, based on the results of this count, states: “The many southern and summer birds seen on this year’s count, with very few northern birds, leaves me to believe that this is going to be a mild winter, in spite of the cold start it had in November. We hope the northern birds are still alive, but just have not been forced down to this part of the country yet.”
From the Jan. 7-13, 2015, issue