Squirrel licking sap by Cyrene Krey

Field Report (School+Work+Fun)

Once again, I’m taking Ornithology! This time as a graduate student. I loved taking it as an undergrad and as always, my favorite part is the field observations. It’s like work, school, and play all rolled into one ๐Ÿ™‚ This field report was especially fun too because I was also able to combine it with the Great Backyard Bird Count, a citizen science effort to collect data on bird observations during one weekend every year. This data is published on the eBird website atย http://gbbc.birdcount.org.

Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapilla) by Cyrene Krey
The Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapilla) were the most abundant and active throughout both my observations. I saw at least four distinct birds during my first day out. They were flying back and forth from tree to tree, foraging for food. One would occasionally noisily come to an already occupied branch and displace another bird. They have a black cap on their heads (hence their name) as well as a black throat, while the rest of them is white and tan. They look like Carolina chickadees but have different vocalizations, which is one of the methods I used to ID them as black-capped chickadees.
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) by Cyrene Krey
Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) were also very active. I saw four in total, three males and one female. One of the males appeared to be watching over the female as she foraged. He would inspect a tree, move to a higher branch or tree, and she would come over to his previous location to begin foraging. He maintained a relatively close distance to her the entire time I was observing. The other two occasionally appeared to face off with one another, while minding their own business looking for food the rest of the time.
Female cardinal by Cyrene Krey
Male cardinals are bright red with a black mask and females are brown with red tinges on their wings and head crest. Although the males are known as the beautiful ones, I’ve always been partial to the females.
Male Cardinal Licking Sap by Cyrene Krey
Fun note, when I first spotted the male he appeared to be drinking sap off of a tree. The female also came to that tree to do the same .
Squirrel licking sap by Cyrene Krey
Not to be left out, this squirrel decided to see what the cardinals found so delicious about this tree’s sap.

I encourage you to check out the data collected from this year’s bird count and to be on the lookout for it next year! If you participated in this year’s count, comment about your experience ๐Ÿ™‚

Great Backyard Bird Count http://gbbc.birdcount.org.

Check out cool audio files of bird songs atย http://www.xeno-canto.org.

Tekiela S. 1999. Birds of Illinois Field Guide. Cambridge, Minn.: Adventure Pub.

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Smith Lake

Smith Lake is near an itty bitty town in Illinois and right nextdoor to the pond the Dakota Access Pipeline cuts through. The pond and lake are connected and during flooding, the lake spills over into the Illinois River. It’s a very risky area to place an oil pipeline and yet it’s one of the locations Energy Transfer Partners decided to cut through.

White Pelicans at Smith Lake by Cyrene Krey
Smith Lake was absolutely stunning! It was our first destination of the second day for our journey. Gravel roads were the only route to the out-of-the-way lake. We went early morning and arrived just at sunrise. It was chilly and there was a thick mist all across the lake. Flocks of over 150 white pelicans were gathered there, likely on their way south for their fall migration.
White Pelican Drifting by Cyrene Krey
This pelican was the star of the morning! He kept swimming out of the mist closer towards the center of the lake where the sunlight was. It’s always nice when critters decide to cooperate ๐Ÿ˜‰
Bird in the Sky by Cyrene Krey
Birds soared overhead, just awakening for the day as the sun rose over the lake. Although the waterbirds were still lazily drifting in the lake, several species of gulls and birds of prey were already moving about overhead ready to find food.
Private Pier by Cyrene Krey
Small homes dotted the lake, several with small piers. Other than a couple of birders out observing the migrating pelicans and waterfowl, we didn’t see or hear anyone else. It was beautifully peaceful.

Other photos from this location and my DAPL project are available on my website at www.cyrenekrey.com for purchase and viewing. Please contact your representatives to let them know you aren’t interested in any more pipelines and want cleaner energy sources (and the tons of jobs that will come with them!). The Army Corps is also taking public comment on the pipeline, please voice your opinion.