There were good numbers of wintering sparrows throughout the period. Blackbirds made a good showing throughout the period as well. Winter finch numbers this winter were up this year from last year with reports of both species of crossbills along with good numbers of Common Redpolls and a few reports of Pine Siskins. Eurasian Tree Sparrows continue to expand their range with several found in Buchanan and Appanoose counties in Iowa.
Exceeding records of the previous year, 2016 came to a close as the third warmest year on record in Missouri with only 1921 and 2012 being warmer. The season started off with an early December cold front, leaving bodies of water frozen and showing promise of a reliable winter. Temperatures in December averaged a degree below normal, and drought from fall continued with slightly less than 1 inch below normal precipitation across the state. December was the second month in 2016 that averaged below normal temperatures with a significant storm on Dec 16–17 that left icy roads, shut down airports, and closed highways including I-70 in both directions. Early January showed temperatures near or below zero in the northern part of the state. These soon gave way to mild conditions, with 70s being reported in areas of the state on 17 Jan. February continued the warming trend, with statewide average temperature of approximately 45 degrees, more than 11 degrees above normal. Feb 2017 earned the title of the highest average February state temperature on record. Drought conditions accumulated in North and Central sections of Missouri with less than 1/2 inch of precipitation. Mark Haas described this season as “the winter that wasn’t” with personal observations of Cape Girardeau setting seven winter high records and only one inch of snow, which melted by the end of the day.
The winter of 2016–2017 ultimately ranked in the top five warmest winters on record and ended on 28 Feb with a deadly tornado in Perry County and significant wind and hail in southern and central Missouri. For many this will be remembered as the winter of Red-breasted Nuthatches, with an irruption that spurred reports across the state, especially around population centers. The warm temperatures of mid to late winter coincided with observations of species absent from reports earlier in the winter such as Prairie Falcon, Gray Catbird, and Golden Eagle. A few unexpected species reported were Say’s Phoebe, a first-winter male Lesser Goldfinch and two overwintering American Bitterns. Both Cattle and Great egrets took advantage of the mild winter, increasing their presence in the state significantly over prior winter reports. Orange-crowned Warbler had an exceptional presence in the state this winter, especially considering observations in this season required documentation in previous years. Almost absent from the state were Northern Shrikes, with the only reports coming from Columbia. Of note during this period, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially changed the name of Squaw Creek NWR to Loess Bluffs NWF.
Highlights of the season in Iowa were Brant, Great Black-backed Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, California Gull, Say’s Phoebe, and Lark Bunting. Seasonal highlights in Missouri were American Bittern, Cattle Egret, Say’s Phoebe, Lesser Goldfinch, and Brewer’s Blackbird.
Contributors: (state editors in boldface)
IOWA: Danny Akers (DAk), Reid Allan (RIA), Pam Allan (PHA), John Bissell (JB), Brian Blevins (BLB), Aaron Brees (AB), Robert Bryant (RRB), Mark Brown (MHB), Brandon Caswell (BCC), Raymond L Cummins (RLC), Jim Dinsmore (JJD), Stephen J Dinsmore (SJD), Chris R Edwards (CRE), James Forde (JF), Jim Fuller (JLF), Jay Gilliam (JG), Malcomb Gold (MG), Tyler Harms (TMH), Ramona Hayne (RH), Paul Hertzel (PH), Chuck Jacobsen (CJ), Thomas Johnson (TNJ), Kelly McKay (KJM), Francis L Moore (FLM), Adam Myers (AM), Wolfgang Oesterreich (WO), Mark Proescholdt (MP), Larry Reis (LR), Billy Reiter-Marolf (BR), Mark Roberts (MR), Linda Rudolf (LGR), Lee Schoenewe (LAS), Tommy Stone (TGS), Mike Stephens (MS), Vicky Stephens (VS), Dennis Thompson (DTh), Jerry Toll (JT), Gerald L Von Ehwegen (GLV), Hank Zaletel (HZ). MISSOURI: John Besser (JB), Bill Blackledge (BB), David Blevins (DBl), Steven Brown (SB), Charles Burwick (CBu), Jim Clinton (JC), David Easterla (DE), Bill Eddleman (BE), JoAnn Eldridge (JE), Tony Elliot (TE), Rob Francis (RF), Thomas Gains (TG), Allen Gathman (AG), Mark Haas (MH), Jennifer Hammett (JHm), Jill Hayes (JH), Janet Hoyne (JHo), Eric Hough (EH), Brad Jacobs (BJ), Timothy Jones (TJ), Steve Kinder (SK), John King (JK), Tracy Lewandowski (TL), C. Locke (CL), Richard Locke (RL), Matt Longabough (ML), Pat Lueders (PL), Jim Malone (JM), Debbie Martin (DM), Steve Martin (SM), Chrissy McClarren (CMc), Kelly McKay (KJM), Paul McKinley (PM), Aaron Mitchell (AM), Marky Mutchler (MM), Mary Namecek (MN), Lisa Owens (LO), Tom Parmeter (TP), Mark Pelton (MP), Tim Pinkston (TPi), Andrew Reago (AR), Nicholas Renz (NR), Kimberly Rohling (KR), Bill Rowe (BR), Mike Rowe (MR), Jethro Runco (JRu), Joel Rurik (JR), Greg Samual (GSa), Stephanie Schappan (SS), Brent Schindewolf (BSc), Dylan Sheets (DS), Greg Swick (GSw), Maureen Thomas-Murphy (MTM), Dave Van Fleet (DVF), Eric Walters (EW), Donald White (DW), Steve Whitson (SW), Jason Wilson (JW), Rod Wittenberg (RW), Ted Wolff (TW).
Abbreviations: BS (Bird Sanctuary); CA (Conservation Area); CBC (Christmas Bird Count); L&D (Lock & Dam); NWR (National Wildlife Refuge); RA (Recreation Area); SP (State Park); WA (Wildlife Area); WMA (Wildlife Management Area).
The highest number for Greater White-fronted Goose was 10,000 on 16 Feb at Snyder Bend Park Woodbury, IA (GLV), 16,000 on 22 Feb at Big Sand Mound Nature Preserve Louisa & Muscatine, IA (KJM). A seasonal high count for Snow Goose was 75,000 on 16 Feb at Snyder Bend Park Woodbury, IA (GLV) with another 100,000 on 18 Feb at Blue Lake Monona, IA (GLV). There was one report of a Snow Goose x Canada Goose hybrid on 24 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (AB). Ross’s Goose numbers included a high of 845 on 19 Feb at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (AB) and 1,300 on 26 Feb Ringgold, IA (JG). There was one report of a Brant on 7 Dec at John Deere Pond, Waterloo Black Hawk, IA (TGS). Cackling Goose reports included a high of 3,500 on 13 Dec at Maryville Nodaway, MO (DE), 120 on 26 Dec at Morningstar Airport Pits Polk, IA (AB), and 21 on 4 Jan at Creve Coeur Lake and County Park St. Louis, MO (CMc, AR). The highest concentrations for Canada Goose were 15,500 on 7 Jan at Green Valley SP Union, IA (JG) and 35,000 on 18 Feb at Blue Lake Monona, IA (GLV).
Trumpeter Swan high count was 1,022 on 20 Dec at Riverlands Migratory BS St. Charles, MO (PL, JR) and 1,133 on 11 Jan, again at Riverlands Migratory BS St. Charles, MO (BSc). In Iowa there were 66 reports from around the state with a high count of 270 on 7 Jan at Dale Maffitt Reservoir Madison, IA (JG) and 362 on 12 Jan at Beemer’s Pond Hamilton, IA (SJD). High count for Tundra Swan was 120 on 8 Dec at Red Oak Road Allamakee, IA (BR) with a high in Missouri of 84 on 2 Jan at Riverlands Migratory BS St. Charles, MO (JM).
Rare outside of southeastern Missouri were 85 Wood Ducks on 12 Dec at Forest Park, St. Louis City St. Louis, MO (JR). Reports in Iowa included three from 6–8 Jan at Ada Hayden Heritage Park Story, IA (WO). In Iowa, Gadwall was reported throughout the period with high counts of 60 on 5 Dec at Trumbull Lake Clay, IA (DAk), seven on 4 Jan at Red Oak Road Allamakee, IA (BR) and 300 on 25 Feb at Lily Pond, Amana Iowa, IA (LGR). A Cinnamon Teal was photographed on 11 Dec at Slater Sewage Lagoons Story, IA (AB, HZ, RLC), and another photographed on 22 Dec at Bainbridge Farm, Cape Girardeau Cape Girardeau, MO (BE). Highest count for Northern Pintail was 2,500 on 25 Feb at Loess Bluffs NWR Holt, MO (JK, ML). Green-winged Teal showed a strong movement with 2,500 on 26 Feb at Loess Bluffs NWR Holt, MO (JHm). There was also a high number of 400 on 27 Feb at Cone Marsh Louisa, IA (CRE). The highest count of Canvasbacks in Iowa was 500 on 25 Feb at Clear Lake Cerro Gordo, IA (PH). High count for Ring-necked Duck was 200 on 27 Feb at Cone Marsh Louisa, IA (CRE). The highest number of Greater Scaup was 14 on 14 Dec Dickinson, IA (DAk), and the highest number of Lesser Scaup was 205 on 4 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (AB).
All three scoter species were found in both states this season. A juvenile Surf Scoter was found on 4 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (AB), with singles on 3 Dec at Table Rock Lake and SP Taney, MO (CBu, GSa, GSw), a continuing bird from Nov observed until 11 Dec at Smithville Lake Clay, MO (RW), and on 18 Dec at Riverlands Migratory BS St. Charles, MO (DBl, CMc, AR). Lone White-winged Scoters were observed at two locations in Missouri for a single day only – 3 Jan at Smithville Lake Clay MO (DM, SM) and 14 Jan at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary St. Charles, MO (DBl, CMc, AR). In Iowa, a juvenile was seen from 13-18 Jan at L&D 14, Mississippi River Scott, IA (AB, MHB), along with a juvenile female on 28 Jan at Sun Valley Lake Ringgold, IA (SJD). One Black Scoter was reported on 16 Dec at Creve Coeur Lake and County Park St. Louis, MO (PL), with additional single birds found on 3 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (SJD), on 8 Dec at Rathbun Lake Appanoose, IA (TNJ), and on 28 Feb at Gray’s Lake Park Polk, IA (AB, JG, RIA, PHA). There were only two reports of Long-tailed Duck in Missouri with one on 1–27 Dec at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary St. Charles, MO (BR, TP, JC). There were 10 reports of this species in Iowa, mostly on the Army Corps impoundments and along the Mississippi River. Highest number of Bufflehead was 180 on 5 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (RLC). High count for the season for Common Goldeneye was 2,940 on 24 Dec at Mississippi River Scott & Muscatine, IA (KJM).
Hooded Mergansers numbered 98 on 5 Dec at Bob Shetler RA Polk, IA (DTh). A high count of 5,390 Common Merganser was made on 13 Feb Marion, IA (DAk). Red-breasted Mergansers were present during the winter period at many of the large lakes and reservoirs across the state of Missouri with a new seasonal high of 24 on 10 Jan at the dam overlook at Lake Jacomo Jackson, MO (EH). There were 14 reports from Iowa with a high of 42 on 14 Dec Dickinson, IA (DAk). High count for Ruddy Duck was 485 on 3 Dec at Big Spirit Lake Dickinson, IA (LAS). Ruddy Duck earned its “rare in the north” status in Missouri with only one observation for all of December and January when four were reported 8 Dec at Loess Bluffs NWR Holt, MO (TG). February brought their return to Loess Bluffs NWR Holt, MO with multiple observations, mostly in the single digits throughout the month, reaching 25 on 21 Feb (SB).
Grouse through Rails
There were two reports of Northern Bobwhite in Iowa with one on 21 Feb Johnson, IA (LGR) and 14 on 26 Feb Ringgold, IA (JG). This year there were only two reports of Gray Partridge from Iowa, with 15 on 24 Dec Buena Vista, IA (DAk) and 17 on 8 Jan at Lime Springs Howard, IA (LR). Ring-necked Pheasant was reported from 18 locations with a high of 25 on 24 Dec Buena Vista, IA (DAk) and 55 on 8 Jan at Lime Springs Howard, IA (LR). There were two reports of Greater Prairie-Chicken in Iowa, with one female seen and photographed on 31 Dec–5 Jan at Kinglsey Plymouth, IA (Loren Hansen, fide JJD). This bird, almost certainly a wanderer from the north, fits a pattern of at least eight other reports since 1979. The only other report was 11 on 26 Feb at Kellerton Bird CA Ringgold, IA (JG).
There were two reports of Red-necked Grebe, with one continuing from fall on 3–4 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (SJD, AB) and one with photos on 17 Dec at Dale Maffitt Reservoir Dallas, IA (JG). Eared Grebe was mostly absent from Missouri except for one seen on 6 Dec at Table Rock Lake Taney, MO (DM, SM). There was also one reported in Iowa on 4 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (AB). There were three reports of Western Grebes in Iowa, with one on 3 Dec at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (AB, JF, SJD), one on 3–5 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (SJD, AB, DTh, JG) and one on 11 Dec at West Okoboji Lake Dickinson, IA (LAS). A Rufous Hummingbird was present at the Ellington home 1–8 Dec Reynolds, MO (JRu) along with one continuing from fall in Iowa on 1–15 Dec at North Liberty Johnson (MHB). A high count of 100 American Coot were reported on 27 Feb at Cone Marsh Louisa, IA (CRE).
Cranes through Woodpeckers
There were 11 reports of Sandhill Crane in Iowa this year, with high counts of 10 on 18 Dec at Muskrat Slough WMA Jones, IA (JF) and 12 on 22 Feb Allamakee, IA (BR). In Missouri, they were reported in six counties, including 12 to 16 birds on 3–22 Dec at Loess Bluffs NWR Holt, MO (KR, TL, MR), 14 on 4 Feb at Grand Pass CA Saline, MO (TPi), and two on 2 Feb at Swan Lake NWR Chariton, MO (SK, SW). Dunlins continued their winter presence in southeast Missouri with three to ten on 15 Dec–27 Feb Dunklin, MO (TJ) and 10 on 25 Feb Pemiscot, MO (TJ). In Iowa there were three on 3 Dec at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (SJD). Least Sandpipers lingered into Dec in several counties in Missouri, with one on 2 Dec at Perry County Community Lake Perry, MO (RF), five on 2 Dec at Southwest Power Plant Greene, MO (DBl), one on 13 Dec at Lake Remembrance Jackson, MO (AM), five on 14 Dec Dunklin, MO (TJ), 12 on 14 Dec at Four Rivers CA Vernon, MO (JB, MR), and one on 15 Dec at Ten Mile Pond Mississippi, MO (BE). In Iowa, there were 18 on 3 Dec at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (SJD).
Pectoral Sandpiper has been returning to the extreme southeastern part of Missouri in late February with observations of up to 400 birds from 19 Feb through the end of the season in Dunklin & Pemiscot, MO (TJ). One bird on 27 Feb at Riverton WMA Fremont, IA (SJD) was the state’s second February record. Long-billed Dowitchers stretched their stay in Dunklin, MO with three on 10 Dec and 30 on 14 Dec (TJ). Wilson’s Snipe, listed as a rare winter visitor, can be more common during mild winters as was the case this year, with reports coming from 31 counties. Seasonal high counts included an astonishing 340 on 4 Dec at Eagle Bluffs CA Boone, MO (BJ), with four reports from Iowa of single birds from all three months. A Willet made a one day stop on 5 Dec at Loess Bluff NWR Holt, MO (DW) and set a record late fall date for Missouri. A Greater Yellowlegs had an early arrival on 19 Feb at Eagle Bluffs CA Boone, MO (BJ). There were also two reports of single birds in Iowa, one on 3 Dec at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (SJD) and one on 27 Feb at Riverton WMA Fremont, IA (SJD), the latter a record early spring migrant.
Bonaparte’s Gull took advantage of the mild winter and open water in Missouri as it was present in 29 counties including a northern report of 10 on 20 Jan at Lewis and Clark SP Buchanan, MO (TJ). A single Franklin’s Gull sporting a full hood and very pink breast made another winter appearance in Missouri, 22–29 Jan at Smithville Lake Clay, MO (MM, MN, LO) and from 4–25 Feb (MM, MN). There were also three single Franklin’s Gulls found in Iowa with one on 3 Dec at Big Spirit Lake Dickinson, IA (LAS), one on 6 Dec at Rock Creek SP Jasper, IA (MP), and one on 23 Feb at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (JG, RLC, DTh). A California Gull was at Morningstar Airport pits on 8 Jan, Johnston Polk, IA (MG). There were four reports of Larus glaucoides kumlieni, Iceland Gull in Iowa this period. There were also 30 reports of L. g. thayeri in Iowa along with six for Missouri. There were five reports of Lesser Black-backed Gull in Missouri, with an additional 12 reports from Iowa. An adult Slaty-backed Gull was found in Iowa on 20 Dec–13 Jan at Morningstar Airport pits, Johnston Polk, IA (AB, BCC, TMH, JG, DAk, SJD). For Glaucous Gull there was one report from Missouri and four from Iowa. A 1st cycle Great Black-backed Gull was found on 20 Dec–13 Jan at L&D 14, Mississippi River Scott, IA (JF, LGR, MHB, AB, JLF). There was also one on 22 Jan at Smithville Lake Clay, MO (MM).
A Red-throated Loon was seen by many on 10–11 Dec at Creve Coeur Lake St. Louis, MO (AR, CMc). Two Pacific Loons were reported from Iowa with one on 3 Dec at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (SJD) and another on 4–9 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (AB, JG). Common Loons were present at two of the major Army Corp impoundments where up to three were reported on 2–11 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (RLC, AB), and up to 30 on 3 Dec at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (JF, AB, SJD). There were only seven reports of Double-crested Cormorant in Iowa, all in December, with a high count of 236 between 1–10 Dec at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA (RLC, AB). In Iowa there were 22 reports of American White Pelican throughout the period, most below the dams at Saylorville Reservoir Polk, IA and Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA. High counts were 290 on 1 Jan at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (AB), 211 on 6 Jan at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (JG) and 185 on 19 Feb at Hawkeye WMA Johnson, IA (CRE). American Bittern was present in three locations in Missouri, with a single bird on 20 Dec at Clarence Cannon NWR Pike, MO (JW), an overwintering bird seen 30 Dec–1 Jan at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary St. Charles, MO (PL, JH, SS), and a second overwintering bird on 12 Dec through the end of the period at Pershing SP Linn, MO (SK). These were the 6th, 7th, and 8th winter records for Missouri.
Great Egrets were present in Missouri, including a new winter high count of five on 28 Dec at Forest Park, St. Louis City St. Louis, MO (NR). Cattle Egret was reported twice in Iowa, with up to three on 1–3 Dec at Heron Bend CA Lee, IA (JLF) and one on 2 Dec at Swan Lake, Hawkeye WMA Johnson, IA (JF, MHB). There were seven reports for Turkey Vulture in Iowa this year, with a high of four on 22 Feb at Big Sand Mound Nature Preserve Louisa & Muscatine, MO (KJM) and 10 on 22 Feb at Nahant Marsh Scott, IA (KJM). A very late migrant Osprey, highly unusual for Iowa, was seen on 14 Dec at Bulger’s Hollow, L&D 13, Mississippi River Clinton, IA (MR, AM, CJ). In Iowa, high counts of Bald Eagle included 173 on 24 Dec Scott & Muscatine, IA (KJM), 154 on 14 Jan Scott & Muscatine, IA (KJM), and 324 on 19 Feb at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (AB). There were 70 reports of Rough-legged Hawk totaling 127 individuals during the season in Iowa. A Ferruginous Hawk was observed on 2 Dec at Hitchcock Nature Center Hawk watch Pottawattamie, IA (JT). There were six reports of Golden Eagle scattered across Iowa this year. There were also five reports of Golden Eagles in Missouri, all in January.
There were only four reports of Snowy Owl in Iowa this season, all of single birds and all found in the northern part of the state. There were 17 reports of Northern Saw-whet Owl in Iowa during the season, scattered throughout the state with a high of two on 3 Jan Clayton, IA (DAk). A rare yellow variant female Red-bellied Woodpecker appeared at feeders Clinton, MO on 30 Jan and continued through the end of the period (BB).
Falcons through Waxwings
There was a total of 26 Merlins reported from 17 counties in Iowa. These reports included five of the columbarius race and four of the richardsonii race. In Missouri, this species was reported in 27 counties including Dade, with one on 7 Jan (GSw, JH) and up to seven seen there from 3–25 Feb (RL, CL). There were six reports of Peregrine Falcon in Iowa during the period. There were two sightings of Prairie Falcon in the western and northwestern part of Iowa. Missouri did not report a Prairie Falcon until January, but finished the winter with six reports. The warm weather spurred Eastern Phoebe reports from 45 counties. There was a Say’s Phoebe on 7 Dec at Fairfield Jefferson, IA (RH), and another in Missouri on 15–16 Jan Greene, MO (CBu, GSw, DBl, SM, BJ). There was one report of Loggerhead Shrike in Iowa. There were 21 reports of 23 individuals of Northern Shrikes in Iowa, mostly scattered over the northern two-thirds of the state, with one record from Decatur, IA and another from Ringgold, IA in the south. The only observation in Missouri came from a single overwintering bird on 4 Dec through the end of the period primarily found at Bradford Farm Boone, MO (SM, DM, BJ, TE). Vireos were represented by a single Blue-headed Vireo present on 1–2 Dec Dunklin, MO (TJ).
Fish Crow returned to the southeastern quadrant of Missouri in late February with up to three birds from 10 Feb to the end of the season. In Missouri, Tree Swallows returned at the end of February, with three on 22 Feb and five on 24 Feb, both at Eagle Bluffs CA Boone, MO (BJ), eight on 24 Feb at Duck Creek CA Bollinger, MO (MH), five on 25 Feb at Stockton Lake Polk, MO (CBu), and one on 27 Feb at Busch CA St. Charles, MO (MTM). In Iowa there were 22 reports of Red-breasted Nuthatch throughout the state, with a high of six on 16 Dec at Centerville Reservoir Appanoose, IA (RLC). In Missouri, they were a consistent presence at many locations, with reports coming from over one third of the counties. House Wren had three occurrences in southeast Missouri where it is rare, one on 1 Dec Dunklin, MO (TJ), another on 17 Dec at Donaldson Point CA New Madrid, MO (MH), and two on 17 Dec at Oak Ridge CA Stoddard, MO (BE). There was one record from southwest Missouri where it is casual, near Chadwick Christian, MO (DBl). There were 21 reports of Winter Wren in Iowa, with a high of six on 16 Feb Jackson, IA (KJM). Sedge Wrens had a whopping 23 on 20 Dec at Prairie SP Barton, MO (MR). The mild winter enticed Marsh Wrens around the state, with observations coming from six counties, including an impressive 13 on 22 Dec at Loess Bluffs NWR Holt, MO (MR). One was also reported in Iowa on 27 Feb at Riverton WMA Fremont, IA (SJD), where it probably overwintered. In Missouri, there was one Bewick’s Wren observed on 1 Jan at Crane City Park Stone, MO (DBl).
Townsend’s Solitaire was recorded in Iowa with one on 22 Jan at Lime Creek CA Cerro Gordo, IA (PH), up to three on 31 Jan–10 Feb at Waterman Creek Valley O’Brien, IA (DAk, LAS), and one on 6–18 Feb at Prairie Rose SP Shelby, IA (DTh, RIA, PHA, JG). There were seven reports of Hermit Thrush this winter in Iowa, with 10 individuals found. Single Bohemian Waxwings were recorded in Iowa on 16 Dec O’Brien, IA (AB) and on 15 Jan at Cedar River Natural Resource Area Black Hawk, IA (TGS). Eurasian Tree Sparrow was widely reported in Iowa along the Mississippi River, where high counts included 106 on 15 Dec Clinton, IA (KJM), 159 on 18 Dec at Quad Cities Scott, IA (KJM), and 117 on 23 Dec Muscatine & Louisa, IA (KJM). In Missouri, American Pipits had a good showing around the state, appearing in 17 counties. In Iowa, there was also two found on 3 Dec at Red Rock Reservoir Marion, IA (SJD). There were 48 reports of Purple Finch in Iowa, with a high of 32 on 16 Dec Clinton, IA (KJM). There was only one report of eight Red Crossbills this winter after 44 reports from last winter: 8 on 24 Dec Scott, IA (BLB). There was also only one report of White-winged Crossbill this year after 36 reports from last year: three on 31 Jan O’Brien, IA (DAk). In Iowa, there was only one report after 27 reports of Common Redpoll last year: 10 on 18 Dec at Quad Cities Scott, IA (RRB). In Iowa, there were nine reports of Pine Siskin this year after 44 last year, with a high count of 15 on 16 Dec O’Brien, IA (AB). A first winter male Lesser Goldfinch was photographed on 18–20 Dec at Mapleview Park Jackson, MO (EW).
Longspurs through Blackbirds
The highest number for Lapland Longspur in Iowa was 1,300 on 13 Dec Kossuth, IA (DAk) and 800 on 28 Dec at Owego Wetland Complex Woodbury, IA (GLV). The largest flock of Snow Buntings in Iowa for the period was 600 on 8 Jan near Lime Springs Howard, IA (LR). In Missouri, Orange-crowned Warblers had an exceptional presence this season, with 12 different birds reported in St. Louis alone. Most of these observations were photographed and the birds stayed for an extended period of time. In total they were reported in eight counties, all single birds with the following exceptions: Two on 2 Dec and again on 12 Dec Dunklin, MO (TJ), two on 1 Feb at Donaldson Point CA New Madrid, MO (MH, MP), and two on 20 Feb at Tower Grove Park St. Louis City St. Louis, MO (CMc, AR). Single Common Yellowthroats were reported on 5 Dec Dunklin, MO (TJ), on 31 Dec at Mingo NWR Stoddard & Wayne, MO (TW), on 18 Feb at Otter slough CA Stoddard, MO (MH, AG), on 23 Feb at Marais Temps Clair CA St. Charles, MO (BR), and on 21–22 Feb at Eagle Bluffs CA Boone, MO (BJ). A Palm Warbler was photographed on 1–4 Jan at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary St. Charles, MO (BJ, BR, PL). In Missouri, Pine Warbler has been increasing its winter presence in the south, with a 15 Feb sighting of an early migrant at Ashland Wildlife Research Area Boone, MO (BJ). There were only nine reports of Yellow-rumped Warbler in Iowa, with a high of two on 16 Dec Jackson, IA (KJM). All others were of single individuals, all from the eastern part of the state.
A Spotted Towhee was reported on 18 Dec at Saylorville Polk, IA (RLC). Chipping Sparrow ventured into mid-state Missouri with one reported on 1 Jan at Busch CA St. Charles, MO (DS), and a small band of up to three birds that overwintered on the grounds of the US Fish & Wildlife office in Columbia Boone, MO (PM). A northern bird was photographed on 31 Dec at a residential deck Clay, MO (JE). There were two reports of Chipping Sparrow in Iowa, with one on 18 Dec at Quad Cities Scott, IA (BLB) and one on 3 Feb at Quad Cities Scott, IA (BLB). A Lark Bunting was a remarkable winter record for Iowa on 10 Feb, coming to a feeder west of Centerville Appanoose, IA (MS, VS, RLC, TNJ). Two Vesper Sparrows were found on 20 Dec Scott, IA (KJM). There were seven reports of Savannah Sparrow in Iowa, all of single individual birds. In Missouri, they stayed to the south with a high count in the north of nine on 2 Jan coming from Loess Bluffs NWR Holt, MO (DVF). There were 12 reports of Fox Sparrow in Iowa, with a high of six on 15 Dec Clinton, IA (KJM). In Missouri, there was a report in the north where it is rare, with two seen on 19 Dec at Frost Island State Wildlife Area Clark, MO (KJM, JM).
High counts of Red-winged Blackbird in Iowa were 50,000+ on 18 Feb at Blue Lake Monona, IA (GLV) and 24,000+ on 21 Feb at Water Works Park Polk, IA (JG). A report from Iowa of Yellow-headed Blackbird was of a single bird on 4 Dec at Trumbull Lake Clay, IA (LAS). There was a total of 12 reports of Rusty Blackbird of 121 individuals from eleven counties in Iowa, with a high count of 42 on 21 Feb at Water Works Park Polk, IA (JG). High count of Brewer’s Blackbird in Iowa was 18 on 21 Feb at Water Works Park Polk, IA (JG). Iowa had two reports of Great-tailed Grackle this winter period, with 43 on 4 Dec at Trumbull Lake Clay, IA (LAS) and up to 45 on 21–28 Feb at Water Works Park Polk, IA (JG, JB).
Report processed by Alex Meilleur, 22 Mar 2021.