Saturday, December 18, 2021

Monroe, MI Christmas Bird Count - 18 Dec 2021

"MI" is short for MISERABLE. 

24 hours ago the temps were in the mid 40's and the Sun was shining. Then, overnight, the temperature dropped and the rain came. And it did not let up. At 8 am I was sitting in the car at Luna Pier waiting for the rain to slow just enough to get out and quickly scan the lake for gulls and ducks. At 1-2 degrees above freezing the pelting rain hurt.

When it finally slowed I scoped Lake Erie and found an impressive raft of 750+ Common Goldeneye while another 260 Red-breasted Mergansers flew in to join them. The ducks were close enough to the breakwall to tempt some digiscoping, but waves crashing over the breakwall quickly cured that temptation.

I was patrolling random areas during the morning hours while I waited to bird the Monroe Power Plant at noon. So, after Luna Pier I headed north toward Sterling State Park to look for the American White Pelican flock that had been reported on 14 December but not seen since. But first, I stopped at Bolles Harbor and kicked up a pair of Bald Eagles. Then, a short drive down E. Dunbar Road yielded 3 Wild Turkeys before I ran into Dave Mendus and Anne Smith who were patrolling Area 5.

I stopped by the foot of Elm Street and ran into a flock of 50 American Robins next to the Ford Warehouse. White-throated Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows, Northern Flickers, and a Carolina Wren finally gave me something to photograph as the rain started to let up. Nearby Union Camp Marsh was flooded but held 100+ Gadwall swimming as a large raft while dozens of Bonaparte's Gulls fluttered over the water and flashed their bright white wingtips.

I was happy to see the hundreds of Hooded Mergansers at Sterling State Park but saw no sign of pelicans. I hoped that Jack and Janet Volker were faring a little better as they were doing the official count for the State Park.

I had hoped that the rain would stop by noon, but it continued to fall even as I pulled into the little lot next to the DTE Energy Monroe Power Plant. All I could do was count the 250 Double-crested Cormorants and look for roosting Black-crowned Night Herons, but found none. I was consoled w/ a single Great Egret at the north end of the channel and a roosting Belted Kingfisher on the railing overlooking the warm water discharge.

I met Mike Kozlowicz, process engineer for DTE, who was gracious enough to escort me around the plant despite the miserable weather conditions. After not being able to survey the plant in 2020 (due to Covid) I was grateful that I was allowed in this year. 

We drove the plant perimeter and found scattered Bald Eagles along the Raisin River shoreline. We stopped only briefly to look for ducks on the river and out on Lake Erie, which was void of any bird life. The rooftops next to the coal piles held almost 2-dozen Great Black-backed Gulls, so things started to look up. More Bald Eagles were scattering from the trees ahead of us, but otherwise things were quiet.

At the mouth of the warm water discharge I spotted a dozen large white birds lifting off the water and disappearing into the fog. Too large to be gulls they could only be American White Pelicans! After all, Mike had seen 6 of them just yesterday. While we continued to survey the plan was to loop back around to the other side of the bridge and look for them in hopefully better light. In the meantime I concentrated on counting Double-crested Cormorants and Bald Eagles (87 total inside the plant proper).

As we counted clusters of Bald Eagles (5 - 15 at a time) in the trees along the shoreline a large flock of American White Pelicans appeared overhead. Now numbering almost 2 dozen I was thrilled to finally get some pics as they soared overhead. When we finally reached the entrance to the plant the flock now numbered 42 birds forming a large V. Later in the day someone would report 60 birds back at Sterling State Park.

Although the fly-ash Onsite yielded few birds it was neat to see that the road was paved for trucks to more-safely deliver fly-ash to the top of the burm. We'd finish by early afternoon, and would call it a day. Cold and soaked, I still considered the day quite successful.

Overall we would finish the 52nd Monroe, MI Christmas Bird Count with 75 species and 24,817birds. Surprisingly good diversity despite the few numbers of birds and MIserable weather.

Some highlights from the other areas:

Trumpeter Swans (8) outnumbered Tundra Swans (4) for the first time ever!

We finished with 133 Bald Eagles (71 adults and 62 juveniles).

Allen Chartier, Guadalupe Cummins, and Spencer Vanderhoof had 813 Common Mergansers at the foot of Erie Rd. (former JR Whiting Plant). This was as far north as the mergansers reached this year; Red-breasted Mergansers were concentrated farther north in Luna Pier and Sterling State Park areas. They, and Will Weber, would finish w/ 54 species that also included 3350 Common Goldeneye, 7000 Red-winged Blackbirds, another 500 Common Grackles, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Erie Marsh.

Dennis and Kathy Rohmeyer had the only Tundra Swans (4) of the day in Area 3.

Todd and Karen Palgut, and Ethan Urban, put together a 43-species day that included 4 Trumpeter Swans, 386 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Peregrine Falcon, Great Horned Owl, 4 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and 11 Northern Pintail in Area 4.

Anne Smith and Dave Mendus managed 9 Wild Turkeys in Area 5 (E. Dunbar and Laplaissance Rd.).

Jack and Janet Volker had all of the Mute Swans (145), Hooded Mergansers (250), American Coot (40), Bufflehead (120) and Bonaparte's Gulls (74) at Sterling State Park, Area 6.

Bob Pettit and Brant Georgia had to console themselves w/ Cooper's Hawks (2), Red-tailed Hawks (3), and American Kestrel during a slow day in Area 7.

John and Kathy Flora found the only Cedar Waxwings (20) in the county and reported the first Mallard (50) sighting in many years of counting Area 8.

Many thanks to these participants, and to DTE Energy for assisting in this year's Christmas Bird Survey. Hopefully, next year will bring better weather and birds. - Jerry Jourdan, Compiler, MIMO CBC.

Friday, November 12, 2021

MIMO CBC 51 Yr Summary - 12 Nov 2021

As we approach the 122nd National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count in 2021 I thought it time to summarize the Monroe, MI CBC, which is now entering its 52nd year! As compiler for the MIMO CBC since 1988 I've been keeping records of the annual event in a master spreadsheet (thanks to Bob Pettit for supplying early records). The Erie Shores Birding Association has been sponsoring the MIMO CBC since 1990 (prior counts were conducted largely by Washtenaw Audubon Society members - shoutout to Janet Hinshaw as former compiler and organizer). 

The following is a summary of the 51 years of CBC totals from the Monroe, MI Count Circle, which is described as centering at the junction of M-125 and Woodchuck Creek near LaSalle, MI. The count circle is 15 miles in diameter (~177 sq. miles) and is divided into 8 Areas.

Total Birds counted = 3, 321,703
Total Species = 164
Average # Birds / Count = 65,131
Average # Spp. / Count = 73
Min # Spp. = 57 (1986)
Max# Spp. = 89 (2005)

European Starlings have dominated the Monroe CBC with most number of birds counted and (1,034,035) and occurrence (all 51 years).  Common Grackles (325,577 / 43), Red-winged Blackbirds (279,094 / 49), Herring Gulls (255,088 / 51) and Ring-billed Gulls (222,600 / 51) round out the top five in terms of numbers / #yrs counted.

The following birds have been counted all 51 years (100%):

European Starling
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Common Merganser
House Sparrow
Mourning Dove
Common Goldeneye
American Tree Sparrow
American Black Duck
Great Black-backed Gull
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
Great Blue Heron
Blue Jay
Song Sparrow
American Crow
Downy Woodpecker
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
White-breasted Nuthatch

Surprisingly, Swamp Sparrow, Northern Flicker and Belted Kingfisher have been counted all but one year (50 yrs).

The following birds have only been found on 1 count:

Pacific Loon (CW) - 2011
Common Loon (1) - 1980
Surf Scoter (6) - 1997
Trumpeter Swan (4) - (2006)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (3) - 2005
Golden Eagle (2) - 1994
Greater Yellowlegs (2) - 1987
Lesser Yellowlegs (2) - 1999
Boreal Chickadee (2) - 1972
Nelson's Sparrow (2) - 1971
Harlequin Duck (1) - 1982
Common Loon (1) - 1980
Red-necked Grebe (1) - 1983
American White Pelican (1) - 2010
American Bittern (1) - 1972
falcon sp. (1) - 1991
Sora (1) - 1989
rail sp. (1) - 1989
Willet (1) - 2005
Sanderling (1) - 1987
Semipalmated Sandpiper (1) - 1973
peep sp. (1) - 1989
Red Phalarope (1) - 1987
Laughing Gull (1) - 1973
Franklin's Gull (1) - 1996
Loggerhead Shrike (1) - 1972
Tree Swallow (1) - 2010
Sedge Wren (1) - 1970
Orange-crowned Warbler (1) - 2010
Lincoln's Sparrow (1) - 1989
Yellow-headed Blackbird (1) - 1992 + CW 2005

Some of the more interesting birds that have been found on 2 or more counts include the following:

Greater White-fronted Goose - 1 each in  1999,  2005
White-winged Scoter  - 1 each in 2005, 2006
Thayer's Gull  - 1 each in 1994, 2003
Northern Saw-whet Owl - 1 each in 1971, 1972
Vesper's Sparrow - 1 each in 1990, 1992
Brewer's Blackbird - 1 each in 1990, 1978
Snowy Owl - 1 each in 1971, 1974, 1980
Barn Owl - 2 in 1970, 2 in 1972, 1 in 1973, 1 in 1976
Evening Grosbeak - 12 in 1970, 9 in '71, 4 in '73, 8 in '77, 4 in '95
Short-eared Owl - 3 in '70, 2 in '72, 3 in '75, 3 in '76,
Long-eared Owl - 10 in '70, 9 in '72, 1 in '73, 1 in '75, 1 in '82

Records like these are not possible w/o the volunteer efforts of the dozens who have participated in this event.  Thank you to all who have given their time/effort to locate these birds!

The following is a summary of results from each of the Areas covered by the count circle: Note that specific area counts were not kept separate until starting about 1992, so individual area totals vary in the number of years.

Area 2: Consumers Power Plant and Erie Gun Club to I-75

By far our most productive area in the count circle every year. This area includes the J.R. Whiting Plant, Erie Gun Club and the outlying area 2. Special thanks to Allen Chartier and Will Weber for handling the counting duties for almost the entire 51 years. Note that Area 2 totals included both the Whiting Plant and Erie Marsh for many years.

Area 3 - Wood Road on the north east to US-125. US-125 south to Erie Rd. Erie Rd. east to I-75; I-75 south

Thanks to Kathleen and Dennis Rohmyer for acting as Area Leaders for countless years.

Area 4: LaPlaisance Rd east to North Otter Creek Rd to Lake Erie. Telegraph south to Wood Road and Wood Road east to US-125. US-125 south to Erie Rd. Erie Rd. east to Lake Erie

Area 5 - Front St. along S side of River Raisin Rd. from Telegraph Rd. to Lake Erie. Telegraph Rd. S to LaPlaisance Rd. E to North
Otter Creek Rd. to Lake Erie

Thanks to Ann Smith for acting as Area Leader for so many years.

DTE Energy Monroe Power Plant

Thanks to Tim Walsh and Jerry Jourdan, the folks at DTE Energy for hosting the mid-day counts for the past 27+ years.

Area 6 - Front St. along S side of River Raisin from Telegraph Rd. to Lake Erie. Telegraph Rd. N to Nadeau Rd.

Many thanks to Jack and Janet Volker for acting as Area Leaders for so many years. 

Area 7: Dunbar Rd to Telegraph Rd. Telegraph Rd. N to Nadeau Rd.

Many thanks to Bob Pettit for acting as Area Leader in this area of the count circle. 

Area 8 - Dunbar Rd. to Telegraph Rd. Telegraph Rd. S to Wood Rd. then W on Wood Rd.

Thanks to John and Kathy Flora and Joe and Terri Janssen for acting as Area Leaders for so many years.

Erie Shores Birding Association wishes to acknowledge Bob Pettit and Jerry Jourdan for coordinating and compiling the MIMO CBC for the past 50+ years. Special thanks also to Geoff LeBaron and the National Audubon Society for hosting and conducting the longest citizen science project in the history of this country, and to John Trapp for acting as the lead compiler for the entire State of Michigan. Also to all of you who have participated in this and other CBC's across North and South America.

Monday, November 8, 2021

52nd Monroe, MI CBC - Saturday, Dec 18, 2021

Saturday, 18 December 2021
 marks the 52nd Monroe, MI Christmas Bird Count in conjunction with the 122nd National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there will be changes to the protocol:

We will not be meeting afterward for dinner and compilation.

Participants are again asked to avoid carpooling, unless necessary - caravans are acceptable. Please use social distancing measures while in the field together: wear mask, maintain at least 6 feet, avoid displays of affection...

Participants will be asked to report their numbers (including mileage, time in field, field conditions) to their Area Leader, who will then compile numbers and submit to me.

Please use the attached tally sheets for each Area; this makes it easier for me to get results into the master spreadsheet.

If a bird is seen in your Area that is not on the tally sheet then it will need some documentation (photos preferred). The tally sheets have been prepared based on 50-years of data so if its not listed it hasn't been seen before in your Area.

If you feel uncomfortable about participating - no problem - NAS is not worried about data this year. Your health is more important.

If you are interested in participating please drop me a line at

Thanks, and

Stay safe!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

CBC Results for Michigan, 2020 - 08 Sep 2021

John Trapp posted this email today w/ a summary of all of the counts for Michigan from last year's CBC.


The attached scorecard (in PDF format) allows you to see how your count stacked up against the results of all other counts in the state. For purposes of comparison, I've divided the 72 circles from 2020-21 into 60 established circles (11 or more count years) and 12 unseasoned counts (10 or fewer count years). For each circle, I've compiled 17 different stats. A legend at the end of the table provides a brief description of each stat. For each of the 17 stats, the maximum value(s) are highlighted. Enjoy! And please share any thoughts you might have as to how useful this information was for you. My goal was to show that there are more ways to evaluate the outcome of an annual count than just bottom-line totals of species and individuals.

John L. Trapp
Michigan Regional CBC Editor 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

2020 Monroe, MI CBC - 20 Dec 2020

The 51st Monroe, MI Christmas Bird Count, and the 121st National Audubon CBC, could best be described as the Covid Christmas Count. It was in doubt for 2020 until NAS came out with guidelines for conducting the count that included no gatherings, no car pooling, and social distancing in the field. NAS did not put any pressure on count circles to conduct the count; they felt that skipping this year due to the pandemic would not hurt the 121 year old data collection. I thought about cancelling for this year until a number of fellow participants made a push for a go at it. So, with fewer numbers this year we made it happen.

I left the house at 5 am and drove to Monroe to cover Area 5. I would be splitting area duties with Brant Georgia, who covered areas west of M125 (I'd cover east of M125 to Lake Erie). A light fog and drizzle meant that the day would be filled with clouds and low light. As a result I made sure to set the camera to high ISO so I could get at least some record images of the day's effort. 

Bolles Harbor failed to produce any owls pre-dawn, and E. Dunbar Rd. did not produce any, either. So, I drove into town and picked up breakfast and ate in my car while waiting for enough light to begin surveying. By 7:30 am enough light had appeared to see out the car windows so I drove to the south end of Area 5 and started looking for birds. The first of many Blue Jays broke the morning silence, followed by European Starlings and House Sparrows. A Red-bellied Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch were nice distractions from the monotony of the starlings and sparrows.

As I drove past a ditch a Great Blue Heron was crouched among a thin layer of ice waiting for a meal. It was too cold to move, so I was able to get some slow-shutter images at maximum ISO.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk sitting in the grass next to the road. I initially suspected that it had caught a mouse or vole, and was tussling with it, but it was actively trying to coax something out from under the ground cover. I was able to pull up and get numerous photos from inside the car. Most of my images would be soft from a combination of slow shutter speeds, low light, and convection currents that destroyed autofocus, but I managed enough keepers to remember the moment.

The hawk then flew to a railroad sign and momentarily scanned the ditches for prey. It was oblivious to my presence and allowed me to get out of the car and get some images from 50' away, get back in the car and drive by.

Farther down the road another Red-tailed Hawk was perched atop a power pole and also looking for prey. In the damp and cold morning hours it looked a bit disheveled. And, also oblivious of my presence. I'd take several photos from inside the car, drive past it to get images of it from the front, then get out the scope for some digiscoped images. It never flew until I drove away.

I returned to Bolles Harbor but found only a parking lot full of Ring-billed Gulls. Ducks were absent on Lake Erie nearby.

Woodlots were quiet, so I spent my time looking for birds at feeders. A fly-by Bald Eagle was the first of more than 50 birds I'd count before noon, but again lighting was poor.

A large flock of European Starlings were bathing in a puddle in someone's driveway, so I stopped long enough to take a few photos of the their splashings. 

Due to Covid-19 concerns, there would be no DTE Power Plant survey this year. I would spend my day driving around the perimeter of the plant looking for eagles, gulls and ducks. A drive down E. Dunbar Rd. past the fly-ash onsite yielded the first Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers, Bonaparte's Gulls, hundreds of mixed Ring-billed / Herring Gulls, and 4 Great Egrets! The egrets were tucked into a quiet little canal opposite the fly ash site.

My best feeder birds came in the form of 3 Wild Turkeys that were foraging in someone's yard as I drove back out E. Dunbar Rd.

I drove to the foot of Front St. where the DTE Power Plant entrance is located. 300+ Double-crested Cormorants lined the trees along the banks of the warm water discharge of the plant. I pulled over to check the canal for any ducks or passerines that might be obscured by the thick vines covering the fencing. A single Black-crowned Night Heron was tucked back in the thickets, and as I photographed it another 15 birds suddenly flushed from an unseen roost.

I walked over to the road and was able to count almost 30 Bald Eagles lining the discharge canal. A large flock of 300+ Ring-billed Gulls and Bonaparte's Gulls were foraging the warm waters of the canal. A Brown Creeper foraged along the base of a tree trunk across the road too far away to photograph.

A trip back to the backside of Bolles Harbor and the DTE fly-ash onsite yielded a convocation of 18 juvenile Bald Eagles squabbling atop one of the berms out in the fields to the west. I was there to look for American Tree Sparrows that have been largely absent in the county the past several CBCs, so I was happy to find a dozen birds foraging along the fence line. 

With winds picking up and a light rain starting to fall I decided to call it a day just after noon. I would head home and wait to hear from the rest of the count circle. Another Red-tailed Hawk was perched on the side of the road and I was able to get a few pics as it took off.

As for the rest of the group, Allen Chartier, Guadalupe Cummings, April Campbell and Spence Vanderhoof in Area 2 would finish with 50 species and 75% of the day's birds. Their highlights included  a pair of Common Redpolls and a Marsh Wren at Erie Gun Club. Allen noted that dikes were free of vegetation and mud-covered so walking was treacherous. Additional vegetation removal had left the sulfur pond open to approach and was thus duck-free. But, almost 20,000 scaup sp. on Lake Erie produced the bulk of the day's tally. A Killdeer was a nice shorebird add.

Dennis and Kathy Rohmyer had a pair of Sandhill Cranes in Area 3.

Todd and Karen Palgut covered Area 4 and found a pair of Merlin and two Long-Tailed Ducks.

Jack and Janet Volker covered Area 6 and Sterling State Park and pulled 7 Carolina Wrens out of the thickets.

Bob and Gail Pettit covered Area 7 and found the only 2 Horned Larks in the count circle. And though he covered Area 5 with me Brant Georgia has been hosting a pair of Chipping Sparrows at his feeders at his house in Area 7.

John and Kathy Flora had a flock of 10 Wild Turkeys in a field in Area 8.

We would end the day with a very respectable count of 46,505 birds and 79 species! Thanks to all who participated, and hopefully we'll have better conditions for next year's count.