For the past ten years or so I have made an effort to participate in as many area Christmas Bird Counts as possible. Many counts happen on the same day so it is difficult to pick and choose which ones will work, especially when distance, work, and family are all factored into the mix.
This year, though, I was able to do all three of the Rockford, Illinois area CBCs: Rockford, Kishwaukee, and the one I coordinate, Rock Cut State Park.
This is a recap of these counts.
The Rockford count is the longest running one in my neck of the woods and one that gets much more counters than the other two. I was able to go with my dad and sister and we met up with another birder who was highly familiar with the area.
Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire time we counted and we were perpetually soaked and cold.
We did manage a few highlights including a calling and flying Pileated Woodpecker as well as a beautiful just-turned adult Bald Eagle.
We didn't count for as long as we anticipated as the weather just wouldn't give us a break.
For the Kishwaukee count I also went with my dad and sister plus my niece. This time we had an area all to ourselves so it was fun to explore and find new spots that we hoped to find birds.
The weather was much nicer and felt warmer with the sunshine (despite starting out around 11 degrees).
We didn't find tons of birds but managed to pick up two American Kestrels, a few Red-tailed Hawks, and a handful of other common species. We didn't see anything rare or unusual.
For my count we covered a large area that included three nice forest preserves/conservation areas.
I counted with my other sister, dad, nephew, and both nieces.
It was cold and windy but we managed to find more than 1,300 birds (many of which were Canada Geese) consisting of 25 species. The highlights included a pair of Eastern Bluebirds, a pair of Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Northern Harrier and a beautiful reddish Barred Owl that my nephew spotted.
We also found some interesting areas with large houses and feeders with a variety of birds.
Overall it was a fun and successful Christmas Bird Count season.
I highly recommend every birder to do at least one count each year. It makes for a great time outdoors even in ugly weather and is a wonderful citizen science project.