Eagles and gulls were numerous at Credit Island Park on February 18, 2017 where 32 young birders, parents, and grandparents enjoyed a beautiful and unseasonably warm morning of birding. As flocks migrating geese (Snow Geese, Greater White-fronted Geese, and Canada Geese) streamed overhead, we set off to explore this unique park nestled in the Mississippi River. We were quickly greeted by numerous Ring-billed Gulls foraging on shore and over the water, all of which offered the opportunity to study characteristics of these birds at close range. Target bird number 1, check!
As we moved toward the other side of the island in search of more gulls and Bald Eagles, we were greeted by three species of songbirds singing. We heard both a Song Sparrow and Mourning Dove in the distance, and stopped to listen to the melodious song of the Eastern Bluebird. A bit more walking and searching turned up the singing male bluebird and everyone enjoyed close-range looks of this beautiful bird.
On the other side of the island, Ring-billed Gulls were again numerous foraging over the water and roosting on the ice. Also present were Bald Eagles, both adults and immatures, and young birders were able to compare plumage differences of eagles of different ages. We also observed an immature Ring-billed Gull among the adults, offering the chance to compare plumage differences in different ages of Ring-billed Gulls as well. To top things off, an immature Herring Gull joined the roosting Ring-billed Gulls on the ice.
We finished the morning looking for other birds on the interior of the island. We found a cooperative Red-tailed Hawk, a Cooper’s Hawk flying overhead, various woodpeckers, a Northern Cardinal, and several Dark-eyed Juncos. Lastly, we stopped and examine feathers of a Canada Goose, learning about the differences between primary, secondary, and down feathers.
We are grateful to Walt Wagner-Hecht for his leadership on this trip, to local guide Jim Nordquist for joining us, and to all the parents, grandparents, and young birders for enjoying a morning of birding with us! You can view photos from our trip here and a list of species here.