The 64th Lisle Arboretum (ILLA) Christmas Bird Count was held Sunday, 16 Dec 2012. We had what I believe was a record number of participants this year, with over 100 field counters plus several more feeder watchers. We came close to, but fell one species short, of a count record with 86 species reported, and two additional species (so far) were seen during count week. The previous record high count of 87 species was set in 2009. [For those present at the count dinner, we had to remove Red-headed Woodpecker from the list, dropping the total to 86, and my number of 85 as the previous record wasn’t quite right.]

Let me first express my appreciation for the efforts of all the participants in making this a great count. Special thanks go to the area captains, to Chris Williamson for organizing the countdown dinner (with 60 attendees!), and to the crew from Chicago Ornithological Society that added a celebration of COS’s 100th anniversary to the post-count festivities. Thanks, too, to COS for covering the cost of the dinner for count participants!

A new species was added to the count rolls: Great Egret. Two were seen on the count. Golden Eagle has not been previously seen on the count, but this year was recorded as a count week bird. Other unusual species for this count included Cackling Goose (9th time on the count), Trumpeter Swan (2nd time), Redhead (9th), Ruddy Duck (11th), Double-crested Cormorant (8th), Sandhill Crane (6th), Short-eared Owl (13th), Pileated Woodpecker (6th), Monk Parakeet (6th), and Brown Thrasher (16th time, but only the 3rd in the last 15 years).

Record high counts were set for Trumpeter Swan, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe, Belted Kingfisher, and American Goldfinch. This year’s count of Redhead tied the record high. Other notably large counts included those for Gadwall, Hairy Woodpecker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, House Finch, and Pine Siskin. For these species, the 2012 tally was greater than 150% of the average over the last 15 years.

There weren’t any really big misses. “Kind of big” misses included Rough-legged Hawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. We record these species two out of every three years but failed to get them this year. We had low numbers of Canada Goose, Herring Gull, and Northern Flicker (less than 50% the average of the last 15 counts). American Crow numbers remained at the low levels that set in during the 2002 count, following the West Nile virus outbreak.

Below are the numbers as reported at the count dinner. There may be some later revisions, plus there are some feeder count totals that have yet to be included.

Good birding,

Geoffrey A. Williamson
Chicago, Cook County

Cackling Goose 1

Canada Goose 4,415

Trumpeter Swan 3

Wood Duck 2

Gadwall 340

American Wigeon 27

American Black Duck 15

Mallard 1,448

Northern Shoveler 13

Northern Pintail 4

Green-winged Teal 16

Canvasback 1

Redhead 5

Ring-necked Duck 1

Lesser Scaup 5

Bufflehead 6

Common Goldeneye 9

Hooded Merganser 60

Common Merganser 11

Red-breasted Merganser 9

Ruddy Duck 3

Pied-billed Grebe 9

Double-crested Cormorant 3

Great Blue Heron 32

Great Egret 2

Bald Eagle 5

Northern Harrier 1

Sharp-shinned Hawk 6

Cooper"s Hawk 15

Red-tailed Hawk 76

Golden Eagle (count week)

American Coot 31

Sandhill Crane 5

Killdeer 2

Wilson"s Snipe 1

Ring-billed Gull 344

Herring Gull 39

Rock Pigeon 452

Mourning Dove 704

Eastern Screech-Owl 25

Great Horned Owl 21

Short-eared Owl 2

Northern Saw-whet Owl 5

Belted Kingfisher 22

Red-bellied Woodpecker 134

Downy Woodpecker 235

Hairy Woodpecker 82

Northern Flicker (yellow-shafted) 12

Pileated Woodpecker 3

American Kestrel 11

Monk Parakeet 1

Northern Shrike 3

Blue Jay 180

American Crow 83

Black-capped Chickadee 526

Tufted Titmouse 9

Red-breasted Nuthatch 28

White-breasted Nuthatch 236

Brown Creeper 16

Carolina Wren 9

Winter Wren 2

Golden-crowned Kinglet 3

Eastern Bluebird 48

Hermit Thrush 2

American Robin 698

Brown Thrasher 1

European Starling 2,894

Cedar Waxwing 607

Lapland Longspur 1

Snow Bunting 26

Yellow-rumped Warbler 53

Eastern Towhee (count week)

American Tree Sparrow 619

Fox Sparrow 35

Song Sparrow 55

Swamp Sparrow 24

White-throated Sparrow 86

White-crowned Sparrow 9

Dark-eyed Junco 1,163

Northern Cardinal 540

Red-winged Blackbird 52

Brown-headed Cowbird 4

Purple Finch 25

House Finch 308

Common Redpoll 2

Pine Siskin 241

American Goldfinch 813

House Sparrow 532


Number of species on count 86

Number of additional count week species 2