On Dec. 15, members of the Eagle Nature Foundation and the Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation conducted their Annual Jo Daviess County Christmas Bird Count as part of the 123rd National Audubon Society’s Annual International Christmas Bird Count.

Eighteen volunteers working in six count teams traveling 306.5 miles taking 29.5 hours counted 2,876 birds of 43 different species.

Researchers have found that geese use over 20 distinct sounds when communicating — more than any other waterfowl.

Species with the greatest numbers included: European Starlings—826, Dark-eyed Juncos—436, Canada Geese—366, Crows—243, House Sparrows –201, Wild Turkeys—127, American Goldfinches—71, Blue Jays—70, Rock Doves—53, Northern Cardinal—52, Black Capped Chickadees—45, American Robins—44, Horned Larks—40, and American Tree Sparrows—40, Summer birds seen included: 10 Eastern Bluebirds, 1 Red-winged Blackbird, and 1 Brown Creeper.

What was most surprising was the fact that very few waterfowl, were flying over in spite of the warm weather and completely open water, according to a news release from Terrence N. Ingram, president and executive director, Eagle Nature Foundation.

Birds of prey included 35 Bald Eagles, 1 Northern Harrier, 21 Red tailed Hawks, 3 Rough-legged Hawks, 2 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 7 Kestrels, with no owls or Northern Shrikes.

Birds absent from this year’s count included: Goshawks; only 1 Ringed-neck Pheasant; Killdeer; Lapland Longspurs; Song Sparrows; only 2 Purple Finches; Redpolls; and only 2 Pine Siskins. Those species with lower numbers than normal include: Red-Headed Woodpecker—4, Red-tailed Hawks—21, Eurasian Collared Doves—2, Cardinals—52, and American Tree Sparrows—40. Past counts have recorded over 1,000 Juncos and Tree Sparrows each in a single count.

Each year Ingram, the compiler for the count, predicts what the rest of the winter is going to be like based on the birds seen during the count. Based on the fact that very few southern birds were seen, and a good number of northern birds were seen, he is predicting that we will have a cold winter, the release says.

For more information about the Eagle Nature Foundation, visit here.