by Joanna Reuter

This month’s sightings were compiled entirely from eBird and illustrated with photos embedded via the Macaulay Library. (Feel free to submit interesting observations and photos to me directly by email.)

  • Arrivals: Late September and October brought the return of a number of overwintering birds, including these regulars:
    • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers: The first-of-season sightings for our region occurred during the first week of October. (Note: All return dates are based on eBird data available at the time of publication.) This photo from Howard County shows one of the early ones:

    • Brown Creepers: Another early October arrival; Eric and I happened to see one climbing a black walnut in our yard on October 5.
    • White-throated Sparrows: First sightings during the first week of October, with bigger numbers returning later in the month.
    • Dark-eyed Juncos: Arrived during the third week of October.
    • Hermit Thrushes: A few September reports were followed by a gap in sightings during late September and early October. Sightings picked up again in the third week of October, though still few and far between.
    • Yellow-rumped Warblers: The first sighting in the CAS region was on September 28, with many more arriving in October proper.
  • October 19th, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “October Big Day”: In Boone County, 26 checklists were submitted reporting a combined total of 87 species (eBird data summary here). Six of seven woodpeckers were reported (no Hairy Woodpeckers). Sparrow diversity was good with reports including Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Swamp Sparrow. Some common summer breeding birds still lingered, including Summer Tanager, Eastern Phoebe, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Another lingering breeding bird, though not a common one, was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, reported by Brad Jacobs with a note that it had raised a brood in the Hartsburg Bottom area this summer; this is a species that is expanding its range. Here’s his photo:
  • Migrating American White Pelicans: Numerous southbound pelicans were observed through the region this fall. Not surprisingly, most sightings in the CAS region were along the Missouri River corridor, especially between Boonville and Eagle Bluffs. Multiple reports numbered in the hundreds with a couple estimates of 1,000 or more at Eagle Bluffs. On October 22, Carol Weston reported 1,000 on this eBird list with the following comment and photo: “Conservative estimate. I’ve never seen this many white pelicans at EBCA!”

    Although it is from outside of the CAS six-county area, the sighting of 10,000+ pelicans at BK Leach Conservation Area (along the Mississippi River north of St. Louis) on October 7 is one worthy of note. See Andy Reago’s MOBIRDS listserv post and Chrissy McClarren’s video.
  • Fun photo: Marsh Wren, Eagle Bluffs, October 1. Of the photos submitted through eBird in Boone County this October, I think this one by Pete Monacell of a Marsh Wren doing the splits is one of my favorites:

Please submit sightings! The “Sightings” column contains a sampling of interesting bird and nature observations made since the prior newsletter, with emphasis on the six-county region (Audrain, Boone, Cooper, Howard, Monroe, Randolph) served by the Columbia Audubon Society. If you see an interesting behavior, encounter an unusual species, notice unusually high or low populations of a species, get a great photo or audio recording, or otherwise have something interesting to share, please send an email to me (Joanna Reuter). Reports can (and preferably should) be brief; alternatively, simply send me a link to an eBird list if it contains comments explaining the observation.