A first survey of birds present in the immediate vicinity of Valentine convey the winter avian diversity. With fine weather conditions, a walk-about was undertaken January 3, 2016 to denote the species at the usual places visited during the past four months of 2015.
The survey day started with hearing the Great Horned Owl hoot-hoot-hooting at 6:45 a.m., outdoors beneath the celestial view. The owl was obviously sitting on a tree branch somewhere near the west end of the mill pond. This was the same general locality where an adult Bald Eagle was seen flying around later in the day, after the walk-about survey was already finished.
A very few Mallards continue to swim along nearly daily on Minnechaduza Creek, below the pond dam, though in lesser numbers than when first seen. Flying flocks of the Canada Goose that provided the basis for the count, were going northward during about 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Three bird feeders about the mill pond are an attraction for songbirds, being especially beneficial for finches, the nuthatches and chickadees, woodpeckers, blue jays, juncos and the sly cardinals. Glutton squirrels are also getting their fill as they quickly reduce a brief, yet ample seed supply. There are also a couple of feeders within the heart city were little songbirds are attracted to a source of food.
There were two nice additions for the winter avifauna of the area, which had not been previously observed this season. A Belted Kingfisher was heard and then seen foraging along the open section of Minnechaduza Creek, from below the mill pond dam and its western section within the city park. A Rough-legged Buzzard (formerly known as the Rough-legged Hawk) was noted flying over the ridge north of the mill pond.
There were 21 species observed during the three hour survey period. There was still ample snow cover among the woods, skies were sunny and temperatures were in the upper 20s. There was no wind.
|Canada Goose||270||- -||- -||- -|
|Mallard||- -||- -||3||- -|
|Wild Turkey||- -||- -||- -||1|
|Bald Eagle||- -||- -||1||- -|
|Red-tailed Hawk||- -||- -||- -||2|
|Rough-legged Buzzard||- -||- -||- -||1|
|Rock Dove||17||- -||- -||- -|
|Great Horned Owl||- -||- -||1||- -|
|Belted Kingfisher||- -||1||- -||- -|
|Red-bellied Woodpecker||- -||1||1||- -|
|Downy Woodpecker||- -||- -||- -||1|
|Hairy Woodpecker||- -||1||1||1|
|Blue Jay||- -||- -||1||- -|
|American Crow||- -||- -||2||- -|
|Red-breasted Nuthatch||- -||- -||- -||1|
|House Sparrow||- -||- -||27||- -|
|House Finch||- -||- -||4||- -|
|American Goldfinch||7||- -||4||- -|
|Dark-eyed Junco||- -||3||6||- -|
Surprisingly, there were no Eurasian Collared Dove observed at their usual haunts north of the Mill Pond and at the livestock market. Sparrows were also missing, again!
Probably lurking somewhere in the vicinity, there was also likely a Northern Cardinal or two. A covey of the Northern Bobwhite, previously noted, were probably also busy with their activities at some place beyond the realm of my tracks.
Despite the large extent of the Sand Hills region, there is only a limited extent of winter bird surveys.