Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thank you Horned Larks

Posted by Kirk Mona
This morning on the way in to work I spotted some birds on the side of the road. The road goes through a farm field and each year I find this same little stretch is reliable for American Kestrels in the summer and if I am lucky, Horned Larks in the winter. I love this little stretch of road. I saw a Northern Shrike there earlier this year and a Bobolink last summer.

I've been slowing down through this stretch each day patiently waiting for the Horned Larks. This morning, I saw some birds on the side fo the road. They were too large to be the tree sparrows and juncos I'd seen earlier in the season. I quickly pulled over and fumbled to get my binoculars out of my bag while I hoped no cars would come and scare off the birds. Predictably, the zipper on my bag jammed. I finally pulled out the binoculars and was delighted with a splendid view of Horned Larks. There were six of them in total.

It was a great feeling to see a new bird for the year. I'd been in a dry spell lately as I hadn't seen a new bird for the year since January 15th. That's more than a month without adding a bird to my list. Granted, I could have added some if I was trying harder or say, retired and not raising a toddler.

Here's the list thus far.

January 1
I started the year off on January 1st with my best first day of the year ever as we took a fmily trip down to La Crosse on the first of the year to visit family. A quick but unbelievably cold stop at Point Douglas helped. The Harlequin Duck was a lifer for me. Not bad way to start off the year.
1. House Sparrow (at my house)
2. Rock Pigeon (at my house)
3. Red-tailed Hawk (driving past the MSP airport)
4. Trumpeter Swan (point douglas)
5. Canada Goose (point douglas)
6. Mallard Duck (point douglas)
7. Harlequin Duck (point douglas)
8. American Coot (point douglas)
9. Ring-billed Gull (point douglas)
10. Ring-necked Duck (point douglas)
11. American Crow (point douglas)
12. Bald Eagle (near Wabasha)

January 2
On the Second day of the year I woke up to take in some of the birds at my in-laws house. To my toddler's disappointment, there was no chickadee at the feeders but the Tufted Titmouse did finally show up.
13. Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco (LaCrosse, WI)
14. White-breasted Nuthatch (LaCrosse, WI)
15. Red-bellied Woodpecker (LaCrosse, WI)
16. Tufted Titmouse (LaCrosse, WI)
17. European Starling (LaCrosse, WI)

January 4
Back at work, I quickly picked up the usual suspects at the feeders.
18. Blue Jay (Warner Nature Center)
19. Hairy Woodpecker (Warner Nature Center)
20. Downy Woodpecker (Warner Nature Center)
21. Black-capped Chickadee (Warner Nature Center)
22. American Goldfinch (Warner Nature Center)
23. Sharp-shinned hawk (Warner Nature Center)
24. Pileated Woodpecker(Warner Nature Center)

January 6
One more day, one more bird.
25. American Robin (near Warner Nature Center)

January 7
An unexpected surprise, while sitting in a meeting at the Science Museum, a Peregrine Falcon repeatedly flew past the windows of the conference room.
26. Peregrine Falcon (Science Museum of MN, St. Paul)

January 11
On a school outreach trip I picked up two more birds. Marine on St. Croix is a good place for birding in the winter with open water from the Mill Stream and numerous springs.
27. Northern Cardinal (Marine on St. Croix)
28. American Tree Sparrow (Marine on St. Croix)

January 12
On the morning drive in to work I saw two more birds and then the Turkeys were finally at the feeders. The Northern Shrike was a real winter treat.
29. Ring-necked Pheasant (near Warner Nature Center)
30. Northern Shrike (near Warner Nature Center)
31. Wild Turkey (Warner Nature Center)

January 15
The house finches finally appeared at my fly through feeder at home.
32. House Finch (at my house)

February 23
After over a month of new birds...
33. Horned Lark (near Warner Nature Center)

The list has some surprises thus far. It was nice to get the Horned Lark, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Harlequin Duck. There are some really obvious omissions though. I have yet to see a Cedar Waxwing, Brown Creeper, Mourning Dove, Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, or a Barred Owl. I think I am the only staff person at work who has not spotted a Barred Owl in the woods this year. Maybe this is my week.

~Kirk

2 comments:

troutbirder said...

Nice list for the new year. Nothing to great in Bluff Country but hundreds of those Horned Larks on the country roads.

Kirk Mona said...

Thanks for stopping by Troutbirder. I love those horned larks. I've never had hundreds though. It seems like the last few days there has just been a pair sticking around the spot where I see them.