Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some recent BIGBY highlights

What's a BIGBY? See:

Here are some highlights from the past several days from the Indiana University cross country course...

* Today I encountered BIGBY species #76 for 2010 - two Chipping Sparrows. I now need 24 more BIGBY species on or before April 28 to set a new record for my earliest date to log 100 BIGBY species. Interestingly, the Chipping Sparrows were in the same general area as a small flock of American Tree Sparrows. I don't think I've ever seen both of these species on the same outing. It was interesting to be able to compare and contrast these two superficially similar species.

* Three weeks ago Dawn Hewitt wrote a column in the Bloomington Herald-Times noting the scarcity of Eastern Towhees in the Bloomington area this winter. I only had three sightings in November through February, with my last one during the Great Backyard Bird Count. But I've been hearing/seeing them over the past several days, and today I encountered five of them. It's good to see them coming back from wherever it was that they went. I'll chalk it up as another sign of spring. :-)

* On Friday I ran across a mixed flock of chickadees and titmice mobbing an Eastern Screech-owl. Always entertaining to watch! Speaking of which, Matt Fraker over in Illinois has some photos of a mixed "flock" of chickadees and titmice that consists of only one bird...yep, a hybrid...see:

* Saw maybe 10-12 White-throated Sparrows on Thursday after not seeing any in a while. Two of them were singing their hauntingly beautiful songs. That might be the last time I'll hear that song until next winter.

* Saw a Rough-legged Hawk on the XC course on Thursday. The first one since February 8, and probably the last one for me until next winter (maybe, since I don't see them all that much). Most likely a migrant heading north.

* On Friday I saw a strung out flock of 45-50 Blue Jays, heading north. Migrants, no doubt.

* Also on Friday, I saw some Sandhill Crane slackers. Five of them, headed north, most probably the last I'll see/hear this spring.

* And the Red-winged Blackbirds continue to sing just about everywhere except the IU XC course. They used to be common there before the last time IU mowed the XC course in May 2008.

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