My encounters with birds in the city have been few and far between lately. But I have at least learned to carry my camera with me, after missing a couple opportunities to document something last year, and this year it has paid off.
A couple weeks ago I saw this Black-Crowned Night Heron hanging out on the Chicago River just outside the train station. Last year I had one in the same vicinity but all I had with me at the time was my cell phone and although I was able to get closer, the picture wasn’t worth the effort. This year there has been a lot of construction on the bridges and streets so I could not get closer to the bird, but thanks to the super zoom feature on my point-and-shoot, I at least captured his essence.
And then on Tuesday I got out to Daley Bicentennial Plaza in the afternoon. I had goldfinches singing and juvenile crows. and a lot of huge dragonflies that refused to pose, but I wasn’t really expecting to see anything unusual, although vagrants and early migrants have started popping up at Montrose Beach which is a much birdier location. As I walked slowly through the park after feeding the crows a woodpecker flew into an ash tree right in front of me, quickly tucking itself around the backside of the tree. My first thought was Downy given the time of year, but in a couple seconds after it reappeared I realized it was a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. That seemed pretty unusual to me, and as it turns out it was unusual enough to have my ebird report challenged. Luckily I was able to take pictures, even if the lighting and my lens left much to be desired. Confirmed early sighting of a female Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.