The Month in Birds, February 2015

Download Bob Spahn’s Noteworthies FEB 2015 table here (Noteworthies FEB 2015).  To report your future records:  When possible, please enter bird lists into eBird or post on geneseebirds.  Otherwise, please send your reports by the 5th of the month to Lynn Bergmeyer, 187 Longridge Avenue, Rochester, NY 14616.


  1. This month was the coldest calendar month on record (145 years) for Rochester, with a constant procession of cold air masses and snows piling up, with 42.5” falling and essentially no melting. Temperatures averaged 12.2°F, 14.2° below normal. There was only one day, the 4th, with a high above freezing for a few hours. There were 11 days with the low below 0°, a record number. Record lows were set on 16, 20, 21, 23, and 24 February. The coldest was -11° on the 20th and 21st, the latest dates for double digit below zero on record. Precipitation totaled 2.51”, 0.56” above normal. Snowfall at 45.2” was 21.5” above normal. There were only two heavy snow events, on the 1st to 2nd and 8th to 9th, but measurable snow fell on 24 days. The maximum snow depth of 21” was measured on the 15th and was the greatest in 13 years. Ponds and bays were mainly frozen through the month, with only small open patches on the larger bays early in the month. Lake Ontario did remain largely open, though with a good rim of shore ice and pack ice to the horizon after a day or two of north winds. The deep snows were difficult both for birds trying to find food and birders trying to move about.
  2. Waterfowl counts were generally very low, due to the limited open water. There was no real sign of returning waterfowl by month’s end. Still, the rare adult male King Eider seen in January was found again off Russell Station, and any time open water appeared near shore or at the mouths of bays and streams there would be small flocks of ducks present. Other waterbirds were also scarce, with few loons and grebes reported, only a few Great Blue Heron reports, and no Double-crested Cormorants found.
  3. Black Vulture was seen again at the Millseat Landfill in Riga along with up to seven Turkey Vultures. Good numbers of Bald Eagles were seen, and the usual numbers of Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks frequented local feeders. Again, only a lone N. Goshawk was reported and no Red-shouldered Hawk. It was also again not a big winter for Rough-legged Hawk, American Kestrel, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon; numbers were relatively low for recent winters. A highlight was a gray Gyrfalcon seen and photographed near the mouth of the Genesee River on the 16th and seen briefly the next day.
  4. The Virginia Rail spotted in Mendon Ponds in January was only reported once this month, and only a couple of American Coots were recorded.
  5. With no ice edges on the bays, the relatively few of the expected white-winged gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls reported were from the Millseat Landfill and from the Hance Road area near the High Acres Landfill in Perinton and Macedon.
  6. Snowy Owl reports dropped way off from earlier in the winter, with most involving birds near the Rochester International and Genesee County airports and the area south of Lima. Numbers of Short-eared Owls found on the regular biweekly DEC counts dropped way off with the deep snows. A N. Saw-whet Owl was found in the Owl Woods along Manitou Beach Road on 7 February, but none were found later in the month as regular surveys began. A surprise was a saw-whet in Palmyra on the 26th. Northern Shrikes were scarce. We were back to no reports of Monk Parakeet or Eurasian Collared-Dove this month, though the Fish Crows were found in the Charlotte area.
  7. Reports of wintering half-hardy species dropped WAY off this month; again a combination of both real reductions and the decrease in birder effort. Several of the species reported earlier in the winter were not reported at all. Wandering back roads still produced some good counts of wintering field birds, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, a few Lapland Longspurs, and Dark-eyed Juncos. Waxwings were few, but Bohemian Waxwing was found with some Cedars in the Gosnell Preserve part of Webster Park. The only winter finches were small numbers of Common Redpoll and Pine Siskin at a few locations plus a Hoary Redpoll and a Common “Greater” Redpoll at one feeder in Wayne County on a few days.
  8. There were about 11,100 eBird records, and again the February list of eBird observers was dramatically higher than normal due to GBBC records being directly entered also into eBird. There were 255 observers, most not regular contributors to local records. Only those whose records were noteworthy will be included in the observer list below.
  9. Please send your records by the 5th of the month following to Lynn Bergmeyer, 107 Longridge Ave., Greece, NY 14616.


Jim Adams, John Ballou, Jessie Barry, Sue Barth, Doug Beattie, Don Bemont, Linda Clark-Benedict, Steven Benedict, Barry Bermudez, John Boettcher, Wes Boyce, George Briggs, Bruce Cady, Brad Carlson, Jill Church, Kelly Close, Andrew Consler, Doug Daniels, Willie D’Anna, Elaine Dart, Bob Dobson, Crystal Doyle, Tony Dvorak, Wayne Fidler, Daena Ford, George Ford, Drew Fowler, Kurt Fox, Liz Galusha, Cathy Gardner, Andy Garland, Chris Gates, Kristine Genagon, Bill Gillette, Sheryl Gracewski, Jay Greenberg, Ralph & Georgia Guenther, Michael Gullo, Judy & Lew Gurley, Andrew Guthrie, Anita Gwara, Helen & Chris Haller, Kim Hartquist, Jim & Allison Healy, Sue Heffner, Dick Horsey, Bill Howe, Carolyn Jacobs, Nicholas Kachala, Jim Kimball, Edith Lank, Leona Lauster, Greg Lawrence, Joan & Vern Lindberg, Paul Lindemann, Peggy Mabb, Mary Magistro, Bill Maier, Melissa Mance-Coniglio, Cindy Marino, Pat Martin, Jay McGowan, Kevin McGowan, Chita McKinney, Ferne Merrill, Jim Miles, Celeste Morien, Brian & Brooke Morse, Tom Nash, Jay Ovsiovitch, Kris Palermo, Jim Pawlicki, S Phillips, Norma Platt, Betsy Potter, Jay Powell, David Prill, Carolyn Ragan, RBA Field Trips, Dave Robertson, Michelle Rosenbaum, Wade & Melissa Rowley, Jesse Rubenstein, Zaphir Shamma, Shirley Shaw, Judy Slein, Robert & Susan Spahn, Dave Spier, Kathleen Squires, Chris Stanger, Joe Stevenson, Kimberly Sucy, Jim Tarolli, Mike & Joann Tetlow, Mike Wasilco, Bridget Watts, Doris Waud, Dave Wheeler, Joe Wing, Martha Zettel.

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