by Joanna Reuter

Raptors: Winter is a good time to view raptors, and many photos demonstrating their winter diversity were submitted to eBird and the Macaulay Library this month from Boone County. Here’s a selection:

The final photo in that sequence is a Prairie Falcon found by Shelby Thomas at South Farm on December 7. This was a good find; eBird records show only a few prior Prairie Falcon records in the CAS region (Nov. 1996, Jan. 2009, Dec. 2013, Feb. 2014, and Dec. 2017).

Flocks of American Robins: Robin flocks have been around over the last couple months, both in town and in the rural parts of Boone County. Josh Mosteller observed about 1,800 and 2,000 on two consecutive evenings near the solstice, and he raised some great questions about robins and their roosting habits in this Columbia Audubon Facebook post. The photos below show a flock of robins on bare agricultural ground at Bradford Farm (left) and a robin eating what appears to be the fruit of of an invasive Bradford Pear (right).

Anna’s Hummingbird, continued: The Anna’s Hummingbird that was first seen in November made some additional appearances in the neighborhood in December. It stuck around long enough to qualify as a “count week” bird for the Christmas Bird Count; here’s the relevant MOBIRDS post. I suspect this bird is in the running for the most photographed individual bird of the CAS region for 2019:

Trumpeter Swans: Trumpeter Swans are back in the area. Kathleen Anderson reported the highest count of the CAS region for December, with a flyover of 58 (spread among 3 groups) at Finger Lakes State Park. From our home (a bit west of Finger Lakes), Eric and I often see/hear them flying over, usually on a north-south trajectory, especially on colder weather days.

Rusty Blackbirds: This is the time of year to keep an eye out for Rusty Blackbirds. Here’s a great photo of one from Howard County:

Eastern Towhees: My experience with towhees at our place in northern Boone County has been that they usually migrate out for the winter, but this year, there’s been a continuous presence so far, with the birds routinely announcing their presence with a one syllable twee. Quite a few towhees have been reported throughout Boone County and the region this December.

Please submit sightings! The “Sightings” column has evolved into a summary of the past month’s bird activity as told by photos and audio submitted via eBird lists to the Macaulay Library. Emphasis is on the six-county region (Audrain, Boone, Cooper, Howard, Monroe, Randolph) served by the Columbia Audubon Society. If desired, feel free to make direct submissions to Joanna Reuter by email.