Literature Review: Armadillos of DuPage County

by Carl Strang

One of my rituals in the last couple months of each year is to go through certain scientific journals searching for published papers of interest. I’ll share my notes from a few of these over the next few weeks.

Hofmann, Joyce E. 2009. Records of nine-banded armadillos, Dasypus novemcinctus, in Illinois. Trans. Ill. St. Acad. Sci. 102: 95-106.

I had heard that armadillos have begun to show up in southern Illinois, so I was interested in checking out this title when I saw it in the table of contents for the 2009 Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science. Joyce Hofmann consulted with mammalogists all over the state, along with other museum records, to compile a map of observations to date.

Most reports were of roadkills, 91% were after 2000, 88% “were south of a line through central Calhoun and southern Greene counties.” This is the bottom third of the state. But the big surprise was that there were four sightings in northeast Illinois, two from south Cook and two (the two northernmost in the state) in my own county of DuPage. These appear from her map to be approximately in Winfield, and a point just northeast of there. No evidence of a breeding population has been found in the state, yet. The northern individuals probably were deliberately or incidentally transported by people.

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The West Branch Roost

by Carl Strang

One of the Canada goose roosts in DuPage County that closed early last year was at West Branch Forest Preserve in the northeast quarter of the county. In 2008 only a small hole in the ice remained on December 9, with 400-500 geese roosting there. These were gone by December 20, when the lake was completely frozen. This year most of the lake was open when I visited early on the morning of December 21.

I estimated the number of birds at 2400 (this involves getting a sense of what groups of 10 and 50 birds look like in thin and dense parts of the roost, respectively, and then tallying them during a scan). The geese began departing in earnest after 8:00 a.m.

A handful of geese headed north, probably to the lawns of the nearby high school, where some geese from this roost grazed in early December of last year. Some geese also headed south on the same trajectory as birds that passed over us a couple days earlier during the Christmas Bird Count, a direction which took them toward lawns in Wheaton and Winfield. The vast majority of geese, however, were heading west or west-southwest. Unlike the Hidden Lake and Blackwell roosts, where most geese head out in fairly uniform-sized groups of around 20, on this day at West Branch most departing bunches were in the 100-200-bird range. This made them easy to follow, and I did so. I found them gathering in a harvested corn field 3.5 miles away.

By 9:00, when I returned to West Branch, only around 400 birds remained. The next time I checked that lake, on December 29, I found it had frozen within the previous 3 days (no snow on the ice), and the geese were gone.

First and Last Song Dates

by Carl Strang

I have one last topic from 2009 to report in my singing insects study. I now have enough years (4) of data to look for patterns among species in first and last song dates. I am reasonably confident that my records for 20 species are good enough to include in this comparison. The object of this analysis is to see whether this year’s singing insect season is relatively early or late compared to other years.

First song dates at first glance seem to point to 2009 as a relatively late year compared to 2006-2008, with the earliest song date recorded for only one species, second-earliest for 3 species, second-latest for 9 species and latest for 7 species (a random distribution would have 5 in each category). A chi-squared contingency test produces a test statistic value of 8, however, not quite high enough to indicate statistical significance (P > 0.01; it is perhaps worth mentioning that if I were content with a 5% chance of error rather than 1%, statistical significance would have been indicated). The last song dates I noted for the 20 species in 2009 were closer to an average or random pattern within the 4 years, with 5 earliest finishes, 6 second-earliest, 3 second-latest and 6 latest. The test statistic consequently is very small here, at 1.2. This is only the first year of this analysis; I’ll be interested in seeing what emerges in future years.

Winter Campfire 7

by Carl Strang

Winter is a time when we slow down and become introspective. Sitting and staring into the fire, we ponder the big questions. If you have been following this blog, you know that the focus here is science, science that can be done simply in outdoor settings. But we are more than scientists, and science has well defined limitations that need to be understood by everyone who does science or studies its findings. This winter I am using one post per week to develop my own viewpoint and biases, in particular sharing my take on the relationship between science and spirituality. In part this defines for me what these two realms of human experience are all about, and also develops the separate methods used for inquiry in each realm. I plan to place this paragraph in front of each entry in this series, so that those who are interested only in natural history or in scientific practice can skip these posts.

What Are the Senses, Really? (Conclusion)

I have found that practicing advanced awareness techniques leads to certain emergent patterns with profound consequences on my view of things. Nearly all of these techniques have certain common features. They open me up, open me out, cause me to become interdigitated with my surroundings. I extend into the elements of the landscape, and they into me. A central paradox of advanced awareness is that the techniques succeed to the extent that the ego disappears. What fills the gap, communicating beautifully with the little of me that is left, is something I call “The Enraptured Witness.” This experience can happen spontaneously. Once I stood and watched as hundreds of sandhill cranes flew into a field after a foraging trip, at the Jasper-Pulaski state wildlife area in northern Indiana. The sky was filled with cranes, and the sound of their massed calls was so loud and amazing that, with no conscious effort, my ego diminished to the point where only a wonderfully witnessing part of my self remained. I don’t accept this consequence at face value simply because it is a far out idea. In the real, physical, nuts and bolts world, the more I lose ego, the more I perceive, the more animals I see, the more significant details I notice, and the more bliss I feel. The ego, through its sensory filters and concepts, blocks me from complete awareness. (I should add, though, that when I am in the field gathering data in a focused scientific inquiry, I cannot simultaneously get into full awareness. Science is too concept dependent. I have to decide whether a given outing is for science, or for awareness, which I regard as spiritual inquiry. I don’t know if this inability is a necessary result of the way we are put together, or a personal limitation).

Take this for what you find it to be worth: I get better results from awareness techniques, see more animals, etc., when I love the landscape and all its parts, and regard them as being alive. Awareness then becomes a form of communication. I’m not sure it’s possible to see purely without love being involved, for instance. And the ultimate, the farthest point I’ve been able to reach so far with physical awareness, has come through a spiritual notion. People who cultivate awareness as a method of spiritual inquiry commonly find intuitive support for notions of a Creator, or at least some form of creative force or plan. The Earth belongs to and is the physical manifestation of that force, i.e., the Creator is a spiritual entity, mainly, but has a body as well. That body is all the Earth, all the physical Universe. In that view, every individual animal, plant, rock, tree and person is not simply one of the 10,000 Things. It is one of the 10,000 fingers of God. All things are extensions or expressions of a single entity, a Whole. The Hindu prayer‑greeting of Namaste, bowing toward another person with the hands held in a prayerful position, is an acknowledgment of this universal divinity. The notion gives an added perspective on how traditional Native Americans and other peoples who live close to the Earth come by their great respect.

With practice, awareness techniques teach that landscapes are holographic: each part reflects, represents, in a sense contains, the whole. Barry Lopez made reference to this capacity in his 1978 book, Of Wolves and Men: “The thoroughness of the Nunamiut’s observation is the result of the keen attention given to small details, and, as is the case with all oral cultures, the constant exercise of a rich memory. On a riverbank, for example, faced with a few wolf tracks headed in a certain direction, perhaps a scent mark, the Nunamiut will call on his own knowledge of this area (as well as his knowledge of wolves, what time of year it is, and so on) and on things he has heard from others and make an educated guess at what this particular set of clues might mean—which wolves these might have been, where they were headed, why, how long ago, and so on. His guess will be largely correct. The Eskimo’s ability to do this, of course, astounds Western man.” Taken to the extreme, this notion (a form of intuition) allows me to approach some object, see it purely, and say, “You are God.” In my experience the feeling that accompanies this pronouncement is a joyous sense of profound, non‑verbal communication.

Now I want to transition back to physiology. A holographic model of brain physiology, developed by Karl Pribram and discussed at length in Michael Talbot’s 1991 book, The Holographic Universe, suggests that the brain functions by setting up interference patterns in the neurons’ electrical activity. Visual images and other sensory constructs within the brain therefore are hologram-like, in this model. Memory, too, is composed of these holographic patterns. It makes sense, especially when considering the connection that can be made to all our inner children, to our shadow selves, and to pathologies such as multiple personalities. All could be understood as alternative holographic patterns. (This also may provide insight into the phenomenon of the air guitar).

There are many traditions which point to the body as having holographic qualities, as well. I have seen diagrams of the brain, of the feet, of the ears, and of the irises, diagrams intended for acupuncture and other physiological, diagnostic and healing purposes, which project all the rest of the body into those smaller parts, a very hologram-like imagery. Tom Brown and his advanced students demonstrate impressive success in tracking, finding within the disturbances of soil that make up a footprint a systematic relationship between what is happening in different parts of the body and the corresponding parts of the footprint.

All of this is strange. It gets even weirder, though, when we dip into the universe as quantum and relativistic physicists are discovering it to be.

Merry Christmas!

by Carl Strang

Caribou, Newfoundland, 2002

Best wishes for the holiday season.

That Other Spider

by Carl Strang

In a recent post I described the two common spiders I find in my house. Last week in the downstairs bathroom I had a brief visit from the third one I mentioned.

This appears to be Tegenaria domestica, the common house spider, a European species. It is the most mysterious one in my home, and the largest, usually appearing briefly and then vanishing. Such was the case this time. It had been weeks to months since I last saw one. This individual was in place for only a couple hours, then it was gone. These are sheet-web weavers, so it probably found some crevice in which to hide until its next appearance.

CBC 2009

by Carl Strang

One annual highlight as the end of the year approaches is the Christmas Bird Count. Last year I introduced the group to which I belong. Here our party proceeds along the Prairie Path in the 4-mile hike that filled Saturday morning.

Urs Geiser, our leader, is on the left. Behind him, Frank Padera converses with Marcia Nye (who walks behind a smiling Linda Padera). Lee Nye’s clipboard reveals that as recorder he had the challenge of keeping the data sheet dry. A very light snowfall was a constant through the day. Judy Morgan was with us, too, but doesn’t show in this photo. Chuck Drake couldn’t make it this year.

As you can see, the accumulated snow made the landscape beautiful.

The beauty had to compensate for a relative absence of birds. Nearly every species was down in numbers compared to last year, and to the area’s average. One species that was present in typical numbers was the American tree sparrow.

Among the 29 species we found were a few robins.

On the other hand, there were a few highlights. We saw our area’s first tufted titmouse in years (but no photo). Also, the area’s first-ever hooded merganser and coot (the latter shown below) cheered us in the afternoon.

I should clarify that when I refer to “area” I mean the bit of geography assigned to our little group. Our area was part of a much larger circle centering on Fermilab and covering significant parts of DuPage and Kane Counties. Ours was one of eight groups collectively covering that circle. Circles like this are one part of the continent-wide standard that allows CBC data to have some merit in long-term monitoring of birds across North America.

Winter Campfire 6

by Carl Strang

Winter is a time when we slow down and become introspective. Sitting and staring into the fire, we ponder the big questions. If you have been following this blog, you know that the focus here is science, science that can be done simply in outdoor settings. But we are more than scientists, and science has well defined limitations that need to be understood by everyone who does science or studies its findings. This winter I am using one post per week to develop my own viewpoint and biases, in particular sharing my take on the relationship between science and spirituality. In part this defines for me what these two realms of human experience are all about, and also develops the separate methods used for inquiry in each realm. I plan to place this paragraph in front of each entry in this series, so that those who are interested only in natural history or in scientific practice can skip these posts.

Advanced Awareness: Seeing Purely

Seeing purely is the single awareness technique I value most. The idea is to postpone labeling, naming, making critical evaluations, even recognizing, what you perceive. Turn off your sensory filters and take it all in. See a thing or event for what it is, see all that it is, let it define itself through its own particulars. Prolonging the arrival of the moment of recognition allows more detail to be absorbed. When you look at a bird or a squirrel, do you simply see “bird” or “squirrel,” or can you remove the labels and see every hair and feather, the uniqueness of that being?

Most people who have spent much time outdoors have experienced seeing purely in at least one way. Imagine that it is night, and you are gazing at a beautiful starry sky. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a streak of light zips across your field of view and is gone. Because you could not anticipate it, because it caught you totally by surprise and happened so quickly, there was a moment in which you saw it purely, before your brain caught up and attached the label/concept “meteor.” What did you feel in that moment of purity? Here is a comment on a similar common experience by Rumi, the Sufi poet: “Lightning, your presence from ground to sky. No one knows what becomes of me, when you take me so quickly.”

As a deliberate technique, seeing purely is not easy to learn. The first step is to understand that it can be done and to set it as a goal. The Taoist concept of the 10,000 Things is helpful in this regard. For me, it first happened as I walked across a winter corn field with all the stalks knocked down. I looked at the ground and suddenly that entire little scene filled my visual field. I saw the beauty and particulars of each bit of each cornstalk. At the same time I absorbed the spatial relationships of all those bits, all those cornstalks, and that was beautiful, too. The sense of beauty did not come in the instant of seeing purely, but in the next instant, as the first critical thought. It came automatically. So by having heard about the possibility, and wanting to experience it, I had set myself up for its eventually taking place.

My favorite objects of seeing purely are broad-leafed trees. Each one has its own shape, its own individuality, which best can be appreciated by applying this method. Instead of seeing the tree as a whole, see the leaves, all of them, each of them, and the twigs and branches, all of them, each of them with its particular twists and turns. Do so in wide angle vision, so that you are seeing them all at once. If you can pop out of the tree concept and see the tree purely, you will know it immediately, through the wonderful feeling and the sense of insight. Seeing the tree purely, especially in winter with its leaves off, allows a form of comprehension of the tree’s life-dance that gave it this shape. Typically you’ll see it purely for a portion of a second, then pop out of that perceptual mode with an insight or focal point that summarizes or represents some aspect of the tree.

The initial result is to achieve pure vision for only a moment at a time. That’s OK; it is common to see purely for a moment, to register some insightful profit‑taking, then to dive back into seeing purely, and continue alternating between the two states. I have the greatest difficulty with faces.  There is too much going on, too much social cogitating, for it to be easy. The feeling outcome is identical, though, underlining our equivalence to all else in nature. Additional technique is needed. You need the courage to be yourself in the presence of the other person, to be unafraid of hurting the person or being hurt by them. Then, you must be able to look at the person in the same way you do, say, a tree you are seeing purely. You must allow that person to be himself or herself, free of any conclusions you may have drawn about him or her. As with the tree, you will come out of the pure seeing with some focal clue or feature to build on.

Seeing purely allows us to absorb the details of a scene but not simultaneously to interpret its meaning. And even when we begin to conceptualize what is before us after seeing purely, we do not comprehend it totally. You may look into a patch of brush and see a hidden rabbit, having learned to recognize the end of its ear, but you may fail to notice the clues as to which runway it used to reach that position. You may not know how to read the biographies of the different shrubs surrounding the rabbit, biographies recorded in the plants’ structure. You might miss the toad sitting a couple of feet to the right of the rabbit, the moth resting on the leaf above it, etc. But I have found that with practice and experience, and by diving back into pure vision repeatedly to glean all I can from a scene, I obtain more and more from each experience.

Another application of seeing purely is to use it when watching a person, or group of people, or an animal in motion. This even works with TV: sporting events or dance performances are especially good. Again, watch without labeling or worrying about what they are doing or why they are doing it. As you begin to succeed you will notice more detail, because when you are not being impeded by the processes of filtering and labeling, you are seeing it all. When watching a bird in flight and seeing purely, my mind can register the detail of each wingbeat, each little turn of head and tail. Once I was watching Olympics pairs skaters performing, and spent as much time as possible seeing them purely. I found I identified one pair as being in love. They proved to be the only ones who kissed when their program ended. Once I spent an enraptured 5 minutes in a barn in front of a naked light bulb. The dance of the dust particles, viewed in pure vision, had me entranced.  Now I understand infants when they are doing the same.

Red Fox Dossier

by Carl Strang

This is another of my species dossiers, consisting of what I know about a given species from my own experience. I started the dossiers in the mid-1980’s.

Fox, Red

Initial summary: Common resident of mixed fields, brush and woods edges in northern IN, northern IL, south central PA. Also seen on tundra in western Alaska. Near Culver, IN, seen most commonly in winter, when they are frequently active and visible at a distance during the day. In summer, occasionally flushed from resting spot beneath a bush in an old field.

In Alaska they foraged for mice, birds, eggs and young waterfowl in summer. In tall sedges they attempted to pin birds and mice by listening for them, then leaping high and coming down with front legs together and extended straight down. Cached eggs singly, burying them near where found.

Den found on 2AU71 in high bank of tundra lake in bluffs area near Kokechik Bay, western Alaska. Entrance faced south. Well worn paths leading to water 15 feet below and to top of bluff 7 feet above. Entrance about 1 foot in diameter. A second entrance on top of hill. Fish remains.

At Blackwell Forest Preserve, in June, their contact calls heard at night: a high-pitched whining scream or “yipe,” beginning and/or ending with a harsher, rougher, strangled sound. In May 1986, on a walk through the forest at the Morton Arboretum, DuPage County, IL, I felt the need to freeze. Soon a yellowish-colored apparition came toward me, following a dry streambed that passed 30 feet to my left. Soon the red fox came into clear view, a chipmunk dangling from its jaws. It was walking fairly quickly and directly, not looking from side to side. Chipmunks gave single “chip” calls and were silent as it passed. It went by me, then after another 20-30 yards came to a sudden halt, spun around, and at a faster speed came back past me. I suppose it had caught my scent where I crossed the stream.

Trot on thin layer of snow over ice. Width of entire path 5 inches. Travel left to right.

           RF                               LF

RH       o                    LH      o

 o                               o         

     3.5″        10″              3.5″

13JA87. Red fox bed in Willowbrook Back 40. Snow 6″ deep, was compressed in a 15″ diameter area. May have been flattened with feet first. No hair, but claw marks in bottom of bed probably from stretch as the animal prepared to leave. Bed in area where brush slightly denser than average, and concealed well by grasses on one side. Photos next day after some melting (bottom of one part melted out). Odor of fox evident on day it was made, not detected following day.

17JA87. Red fox lope. Front feet bigger, back feet have rounder heels. Body held at an angle to direction of travel.

LF       RF                              

 o         o                     RH       LH

                                      o         o

4FE87. Fox at Willowbrook cached a short-tailed shrew, and apparently stopped by later to check on it.

6AP87. Willowbrook fox still present.

17AP87. I saw the fox.

27JE87. McKee Marsh area. A red fox passed just north of sawdust storage pile. In thin summer fur. Saw me as it came even with me, 50m away (I was standing, but still), and it ran into tall vegetation.

23DE87. Fox swam across Glen Crest Creek at Willowbrook several times in recent days.

3JA88. McDowell Grove Forest Preserve. Several pictures of newly excavated fox den, with rabbit remains at entrance. In gravel bank above floodplain of stream.

9JA88. The McDowell fox has used the river ice intensively as a corridor and for crossing (tracks especially heavy opposite den).

15JA88. Followed Willowbrook Back 40 fox’s wanderings through last night’s inch of new snow, Back 40. Nearly all the time in steady diagonal walk or trot. Relying on nose for clues? Occasionally deviated to investigate rose bush or brush tangle.

17JA88. Blackwell. Rain melting snow reveals a superabundance of meadow voles (also found 2 dead voles), near where kestrel had picked the one found on the 14th. Predators taking heavy advantage. Fox tracks all over.

23JA88. Alternative trot pattern, body straight with path of travel? McDowell. Even spacing throughout (within and between sets), 12 inches separating (slow lope? But so close together?). Travel left to right.

 LF       LH                   LF       LH

  o        o                         o         o

            o        o                          o        o

           RF       RH                     RF       RH

Foxes highly active last night (rabbits, too). 1″ snow fell just after sunset.

28JA88. Fox tracks in normal walk separated by 14-18″. After 2 full days of no fox tracks, suddenly after last night the Back 40 is filled with them.

29AP88. Fox seen at Pratts Wayne Woods Forest Preserve. Stopped many times to look back at me as it ran away.

10SE88. One seen Herrick Lake F.P. Seemed weak, or perhaps simply expected me not to notice it there.

2NO88. Willowbrook. Tracks have returned to Back 40, after disappearing during summer of marsh excavation and nature trail construction.

15JA89. Red fox tracks at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve: one fox’s set had a pattern for a long distance, on cleared path with ice and a thin snow cover that had partly fused to it, of a mix of walk and trot, i.e., two walking steps and a trot step.

24MR89. Winfield Mounds, tracks. Red fox moved from walk to trot (body angle version). Step increased from 16″ to 18-19″, and more on toes.

22JE89. Scats in Willowbrook Back 40 packed with mulberry seeds. The berries first ripened within the past week.

7SE89. Red fox tracks near marsh. Fox also crossed Park Boulevard last night.

8SE89. Back 40, fox walking stride average about 16 inches, heel to heel.

19NO89. Tracking coyotes in half inch of snow that fell last night on McKee Marsh area. Ponds frozen. Coyotes’ activity heavily on and around them. Frequent rolling, sometimes in urine. Fox tracks absent from wide area I walked in N. Blackwell. Were common before; have coyotes driven them off? (In late 90’s, foxes resurging; researchers say mange took them out).

20NO89. Red fox tracks, Willowbrook, soft soil (but true track size) 1 5/8L x 1 3/8 W.

14DE89. Willowbrook. Fox direction of travel when track partly filled with snow: slides foot in at an angle, lifts it straight out. Covered a lot of ground last night. Played a while with the caged fox. Below 0°F last night. Rabbits, mice and a muskrat active.

16DE89. McDowell. Foxes and coyotes present. Foxes about 12-16″ between steps in walk, coyotes 15-20.”

19DE89. Willowbrook. Fox carried stiff dry weed stem 1.5 feet long for some distance, dragging end in snow. Play? Were mink doing same at Herrick and McDowell last winter?

21JA90. West Chicago Prairie, on Prairie Path. Fox slow lope, maintained considerable distance. 9-14″ (variable) between footprints, tend to be greatest from the Left front to the pair of tracks. Gait developed out of a trot, body-angle version, with 11-12″ between pairs of tracks and 2″ (along axis of travel) between the members of a pair. The slow lope appears to be a common gait along here today, either an individual preference or controlled by the quarter inch of snow that had fallen earlier.

          LF       LH                  

            0         0                      0        0

 0                     0          0                    0

RH                   RF                              

26JA90. Willowbrook. 4 inches of snow dumped in heavy wind yesterday. Last night wind calmed. Sticky snow on all plants. Mice and foxes, some rabbit activity. Fox taking longer (16-24″) walking steps. Lifted leg to mark (male?). A common slow lope pattern, so similar to the diagonal walk as to be almost indistinguishable in this snow depth. Appear to be LF, RF+RH, LH. Space between sets of 4 tracks slightly greater than spaces between. Travel left to right:

 o                    o                    o                    o

          o  o                                      o  o

(actually, slightly longer hole in snow where right feet are close together)

22AP90. Winfield Mounds. Tracks near SE corner of preserve, near houses.

26JA92. Hidden Lake. A red fox in forest bedded for a time atop a fallen log, bed 8″ diameter at bottom, 12″ diameter overall. Fox removed a bit of a burdock bur with some hairs. Bed 2.5 feet above ground, on a hillside. Fox had walked along top of log to reach the spot.

From 1993 to 1997, red foxes were scarce in DuPage County. I don’t remember seeing any on the preserves during that period, and essentially no signs. Coyotes, meanwhile, became abundant. Beginning in 1998, I began seeing red foxes again. Coyotes remained abundant.

1AP00. Red fox scats on Heritage Trail, Morton Arboretum, near its southern boundary with Hidden Lake Forest Preserve.

In the 2000’s I seldom have encountered red foxes or their signs. Based on reports from phone calls to the forest preserve district, and occasional sightings of my own, I have the sense that red foxes now are mainly animals of residential neighborhoods, and are much less common than they once were in the county. Their place on the preserves has been taken by coyotes.

Goose Roost Patterns

by Carl Strang

A severe winter storm in early December quick-froze the surfaces of ponds, marshes and many lakes. This was disappointing, as I hoped for waters to stay open longer than they did last year. On the other hand, the repeat may allow me to get a sense of how consistent the behavior of wintering geese will be under similar conditions.

One departure from last year was evident on December 12 at the Blackwell roost. About 1200 geese were roosting on the frozen surface of Silver Lake.

Among them was one bird with the orange neck collar that marks it as a goose that nests in the Hudson Bay region.

I am not sure why these geese roosted where they did, given the availability of open water in last year’s roosting area on the nearby stream, where I counted an additional 2300 birds (including 3 more with orange collars).

Otherwise, patterns on that day were familiar. Around 700 geese were at the McDowell roost, 2500 at Hidden Lake, and geese were absent from frozen Herrick Lake and Rice Lake at Danada Forest Preserve. At the moment, counts are higher at all three of these roosts than my highest counts last year (which were 3000 at Blackwell, 500 at McDowell and 880 at Hidden Lake). The geese were moving out in familiar directions from the roosts to feed.

Whether these numbers will stay so high remains to be seen. On the days following the storm, which affected most of eastern North America, many geese from farther north were passing high over DuPage County and, according to reports from birders, continuing on at least to central Illinois. If last year’s pattern of severe cold and freezing roosts continues, the numbers of local birds will drop.

A respite of two warm days opened up the Blackwell roost and part of Silver Lake. On December 15, I found geese again on that lake, resting on the edge of the open area.

The main roost pond above the dam, just north of Silver Lake, also had opened.

I was able to photograph one of the collared geese from close enough range to read its collar.

The identification code for this individual is M8R1.

I have passed this information on to the Canadian Wildlife Service. The weather is turning cold again, so the possibility remains that DuPage geese will be forced to shift south.

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