IOS Field Trip Report by Tyler Funk

Scoping for Snowy Owl

Scoping for Snowy Owl

On January 7th, six hardened IOS members (Ted Wolff, David and Dale Kalina, Susan Zelek, Linda Foster and Tyler Funk) set out for a field trip this past weekend in search of Prairie Falcons and waterfowl. Leaving the house at 6:15am, my vehicle thermometer read -2° F. However, the sky was mostly clear and the air felt fresh as we set out to begin the day. Our first target was the Prairie Falcons. These birds have proven difficult to find this winter due to the extensive fall plowing that took place in the area. Finding a corn stubble field suitable for food and cover is not easy this season. Rough-legged Hawk, Merlin, Short-eared Owls and Northern Harrier are all relatively easy finds here most winters and they too are tough to locate this season. Another target in the area was a Snowy Owl which was found on January 6th about a mile east of what we call “Falconville”. We began driving a grid which allowed us to systematically check the area. This paid off with an early morning look at a Snowy Owl, but once again, the Prairie Falcon was a scratch. The group then made a sparrow walk through Larry Closson Habitat Area (aka Hickory Ridge) which yielded some nice sparrows for the day list.

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans

After a drive to Universal Mines, the thawed out group spent the next few hours attempting to estimate waterfowl numbers that blanketed the quarry. The waterfowl numbers here is always a highlight and the numbers of Trumpeter Swans is quite impressive. It certainly rivals any other spot in the state for sure. The group returned to the Prairie Falcon area, where we met up with Travis Mahan, Colin Dobson, Ron Bradley, Corey Lange and Tony Ward. The added eyes were welcome, but the Prairie Falcon remained absent. Those that remained to dark were rewarded with a nice sunset view of the Snowy Owl.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Thank you to all who attended. It was a fun outing!

Species totals:

5000 Greater White-fronted Goose
4000 Snow Goose
20 Cackling Goose
20670 Canada Goose
827 Trumpeter Swan
20 Gadwall
5 American Wigeon
2 American Black Duck
26 Mallard
1 Green-winged Teal
1 Canvasback
3 Redhead
35 Ring-necked Duck
5 Common Goldeneye
10 Hooded Merganser
1 Ruddy Duck
1 Ring-necked Pheasant
2 Northern Harrier
2 Bald Eagle
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
10 Red-tailed Hawk
2 Rough-legged Hawk
3 American Coot
2 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
32 Mourning Dove
2 Great Horned Owl
1 Snowy Owl
1 Belted Kingfisher
1 Red-headed Woodpecker
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
3 Downy Woodpecker
3 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
5 American Kestrel
16 Blue Jay
27 American Crow
134 Horned Lark
2 Carolina Chickadee
1 Tufted Titmouse
2 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Carolina Wren
1 Northern Mockingbird
65 European Starling
31 Lapland Longspur
90 American Tree Sparrow
48 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)
3 Savannah Sparrow
10 Song Sparrow
4 Swamp Sparrow
9 Northern Cardinal
1 Eastern Meadowlark
1 American Goldfinch
74 House Sparrow

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