Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Top Ten Illinois Birds of 2009

I finally had a chance to leisurely review my birding records from 2009. I decided to come up with a “top ten” list of Illinois bird sightings. It was relatively easy to pick out my top ten birds, but not so easy to rank them. So I wimped out and decided to list them in chronological order. But I have to admit that the first bird on the chronological list would also rank #1 in terms of importance.

One interesting point is that I added four species to my life list in 2009 while hanging out in the small Champaign County village of Ivesdale (population 288). Goes to show you that you can find interesting birds in surprising places.

Here’s my Illinois 2009 top ten list:

* Snowy Owl – SW Champaign County, to the east of Ivesdale, early in January. I thought I might have been seeing things, but later read that these birds had been seen as far south as Virginia, Missouri and Tennessee during the irruption. And there were quite a few in Illinois farther to the north. I didn’t report this to any lists because I was without computer access for several days, and by the time I got back online I hadn’t seen the bird in days. A life bird for me.

* Eurasian Collared-Dove – Ivesdale, Champaign County, January. Another lifer.

* Prairie Falcon – Western Iroquois County, mid-January. Another life bird.

* Golden Eagle – Vermilion County, March. Not a life bird, but a cool find nonetheless.

* Harris’ Sparrow – U of Illinois South Farms, March. Darned if it isn’t another tick on the life bird list. :-)

* Bewick’s Wren - U of Illinois South Farms, March. Once again, a new life bird for me.

* LeConte’s Sparrow – U of Illinois South Farms, April. I’m not sure if this is a life bird. I think I saw one a long time ago, but it wasn’t ticked on my life list. Cool bird nonetheless.

* White-winged Dove – Ivesdale, Champaign County, June. A lifer bird, and a really cool discovery for me.

* Cliff Swallow – Ivesdale, Champaign County, June. Found a small nesting colony (just a few nests) under a rural bridge to the southeast of Ivesdale, later confirmed by Steve Bailey of the INHS. Yet another lifer for me.

* Yellow-headed Blackbird – Urbana’s Meadowbrook Park, July. Not a lifer for me, but the first I’ve ever seen east of the Mississippi.

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