Flesh, Feathers and Bone

Juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Juvenile Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Tuesday afternoon while I was taking pictures of this Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker at Lake Shore East Park, so thrilled that I was seeing it with two or three others flitting about in the trees that surround the children’s enclosed play area, a woman stopped to pull her little dog away from something it was interested in. I looked down shocked to see a very dead Lincoln’s Sparrow the sapsuckers had distracted me from. (I picked it up and put it in my bag to get it off the sidewalk, but it was too late in the day to call the collision monitors. It’s now at home in the freezer. Hard to say what caused its death, but its head flopped about as if its neck was broken.)

Then Wednesday morning on the way in I found a dead sapsucker on the sidewalk by 155 North Wacker. I called the collision monitors but they were frantically busy – I was afraid they might not come by the building for another corpse. There were a lot of birds reported on the lakefront that morning, so no doubt there were injured birds that required more attention than dead ones. I hate the carnage that accompanies migration, but this was a reminder that I should be carrying brown paper lunch bags with me again, it’s the only fitting thing to carry a dead bird in. Or a live one that needs assistance, for that matter.

As it turned out, all is well. Wednesday late afternoon a bird collision monitor called me at my work number and I went down and delivered the dead sapsucker. She gave me a special paper bag with instructions and a paper clip to fold it and keep it closed, should I find any more birds on the way home. As it turns out, I have been carrying paper bags with me two days now and have found no more corpses or birds in distress. But I remain prepared.

I then stopped at the security desk to find out if they had given the flicker from the balcony on the 46th floor to the bird collision monitor the day before and when the guard suddenly remembered it, she said “the pretty bird” with emphasis. Yes indeed. And I am impressed with the diligence of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors team.

Here are pictures of some live birds! Two species that have been numerous in the lakefront parks this past week. Hermit Thrushes – I have yet to figure out why they are called hermits – are always curious whenever I pay attention to them – they run right out to see who’s calling.

Hermit Thrush IMG_7562

Hermit Thrush

Except when they’re busy eating berries off the trees…

Hermit Thrush2 IMG_7591

Hermit Thrush

And White-Throated Sparrows are increasingly everywhere. Every once in a while a youngster breaks into a little subsong. Never too early to practice for next spring.

WT Sparrow IMG_7318_1

White-Throated Sparrow

These little visitors seem to adapt well to the city space.

White-Throated Sparrow IMG_7517

White-Throated Sparrow

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