The snowfall this winter has been on the light side, so some roads that had been impassable during other years were easy to drive – including Prairie Chicken Road and Swamp Road, which were where we started. The latter road had a NORTHERN SHRIKE perched atop a small tree, as well as a COMMON RAVEN and a couple of AMERICAN CROWS.
We drove west on Hwy. W to Townline Road, which we took south. A lone HORNED LARK was spotted, and then some in the group had a brief look at a NORTHERN FLICKER. We stopped to look for it, but unfortunately it had disappeared to the west of us, but we did find a couple of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES there. Just down the road a COMMON RAVEN gave us some decent looks after it landed on an irrigation pipe.
The normally productive bird feeders along Townline Road, had only a few birds present, including a DOWNY WOODPECKER, a few BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES, and a WHITE-BREASTED NUTHHATCH, so we soon continued down Townline Road and turned west on Tower Road.
A farm with a row of pine trees proved to be a productive stop, with MOURNING DOVE, RED-BELLIED, DOWNY, and HAIRY WOODPECKERS, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, RED-BREASTED and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, AMERICAN TREE SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO, and NORTHERN CARDINALS present. Also seen along the way were ROCK PIGEONS, a couple more COMMON RAVENS, and another AMERICAN CROW.
Common Redpoll - Tom Schultz
Red-headed Woodpecker - Tom Schultz
We headed south on 120th Street, then also on Hwy. W, spotting an adult BALD EAGLE and some more COMMON REDPOLLS along the way, then stopped at Owen Rock, a prominent sandstone outcropping, where some of us took a brief hike.
After that we took Apache Avenue to the west to 6th Avenue, and were pleased to find at least three RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS, that were working and flying about between some groups of dead trees. A couple of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS were also spotted, along with another BALD EAGLE or two.
Getting a look at the Red-headed Woodpecker - Tom Schultz
The group continued south to the edge Colburn Wildlife Area, then gradually eastward back to I-39 at Hancock, where we concluded the morning’s field trip. It seemed pretty obvious to us that the mouse and vole population must be pretty low this winter, since few hawks had been present in the area. We were also disappointed that we couldn’t find any Greater Prairie-chickens this year.
Thanks to Jeff Baughman for co-leading the field trip!
Tom Schultz, WSO Field Trips Committee