Some Mayslake Winter Birds

by Carl Strang

Yesterday I posted an update on the goose roost at McDowell Forest Preserve. At the other end of the county, a large flock of Canada geese roosted in a hole they kept open at Mayslake Forest Preserve. This probably was the group whose center of operations in midwinter is Salt Creek at Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve, a mile or so farther east. Lake roosts last only as long as daytime temperatures are warm enough to keep the holes open when the geese leave to feed. That opportunity ended with the recent cold spell.

The location of the former hole is marked by the snow-free patch of ice in the center of Mays’ Lake.

The location of the former hole is marked by the snow-free patch of ice in the center of Mays’ Lake.

More than 300 geese rested on the Mays’ Lake ice at mid-day last Thursday. I am guessing that they shifted their overnight roost to Fullersburg when the lake froze, and were using Mays’ Lake as a mid-day resting place.

They stood mainly where the hole had been.

They stood mainly where the hole had been.

This is supported by their flying west after taking off for their afternoon feed. Mayslake is closer to their feeding areas than Fullersburg, and saved them a couple miles’ flying. On the other hand, they did it only the one day.

Meanwhile, up at the former friary site, a large flock of American tree sparrows has taken up its early winter residence.

The brushy western edge provides safe shelter.

The brushy western edge provides safe shelter.

The friary site is filled with weedy seed-bearing plants.

The friary site is filled with weedy seed-bearing plants.

Tree sparrows are inclined to wander in winter, though, so I am not assuming they will be there through the entire season.

Tree sparrows are inclined to wander in winter, though, so I am not assuming they will be there through the entire season.

Otherwise, Mayslake is very quiet these days.

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