I am nearly finished going through all the Costa Rica photographs, I think, but in between it seemed like time to check in with the local birds over the holiday. The weather was still warm and pleasant last Sunday, so I visited the Chicago Portage. I was the only human for the first forty minutes or so. I had no expectations, which is my general approach to the Portage – that way I can always be pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a nice visit, with Fox Sparrows predominant of the 19 total species I encountered.
Dark-Eyed Juncos were present, and they have been in my backyard regularly since the beginning of November. I don’t know if I’ve seen American Tree Sparrows at the Portage before but they were certainly well-represented. And White-Throated Sparrows, a little harder to see here than they are in the city but I got at least one to cooperate.
On the way out, I couldn’t help but notice the growth below.
Downy Woodpeckers are always present at the Portage. Sometimes they are easy to see, other times not, but somehow the camera managed to capture this one in flight.
Perhaps my biggest surprise was to discover pictures of a Red-Bellied Woodpecker feeding on dried berries, entangled enough to show off its red belly. I honestly don’t remember taking these pictures but I must have. Unless now the camera has completely taken over my brain (beware the warnings about artificial intelligence).
The Portage itself is always in a state of flux and it looks like this now.
Also on the way out, about when I thought I would never see a chickadee, this Black-Capped Chickadee and a few of his buddies were foraging in dried stalks that complement their coloring perfectly.
Another view of the Portage and its low water levels. No birds in the water at all. There was one Canada Goose on the lawn by the parking lot and five flew over but nobody came down to hang out in the creek.
One last photo of the Fox Sparrow who is at the top of the page. Fox Sparrows come in different races across the country (Sibley identifies four subspecies and says they’re sometimes considered separate species). The one we get here is the “red” Taiga race and this guy certainly fits the description. I just checked the Cornell website and they mention 18 subspecies within 3 or 4 groups. They are not always so easy to see, so I suppose you could spend a lot of time and effort trying to track down different types of Fox Sparrows across the continent.
More to come from Costa Rica, and eventually a report from the home front.
I for one haven’t seen a Fox Sparrow ever! I sometimes shoot the location where the bird sat and later when I see the photo the bird is there! It’s just force of habit. I just know there’s a bird sitting there but I can’t see it but the camera can. Nice pictures Lisa. 🙂
Oh I have to tell the Fox Sparrows to visit you next time I see them! As for shooting and finding the bird later I do it a lot but maybe even more so just trying to hold the camera with the big lens. Thanks, HJ! 🙂
Great composition on your bird photos, Judy. 🙂
Thanks so much, Bob. – Lisa 🙂
Love the pic of the female downy. We’ve seen lots of downies, chickadees and red-bellied woodpeckers in the back garden the last few weeks.
Thanks, Jason. I’ve been seeing my female Downy and some chickadees in my yard too. They tend to show up when the other birds are taking a break.