Half a Well Day Off for Migration

Chestnut-sided Warbler

After last Sunday’s chilly, gloomy rain, I had my eye on Tuesday morning and notified the work team that I was taking it off. Tuesday came, starting out cool but sunny, and I went to the Portage to see if any warblers I barely glimpsed at on Sunday were there for a better view.

The green-up is in progress and the treetops are full of tiny bugs and worms we can’t see, but the birds know where to look for them.

After hearing and then eventually seeing a couple Chestnut-sided Warblers, I was lucky enough to have an intimate moment with this individual. We exchanged thoughts about spring and sunshine.

I always hear five or more House Wrens, but rarely see them. Tuesday morning was a special day, though, because it seemed like all these guys were out and showing off. The very last photograph below shows one going into his nest.

Another very vocal group rarely seen are the Warbling Vireos. I followed this one around with the camera.

There were still a couple Ruby-Crowned Kinglets here and there. Only now, like the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, when you’re looking for warblers, these birds become “distractors,” to quote one of my favorite guides, Mitch Lysinger.

Even Blue Jays seem to be more visible. I’ve had one in my yard all week, too, although he leaves the minute he sees me.

On this beautiful morning I was delighted to find one of my favorite sparrows, Lincoln’s.

There were still a few Blue-Winged Warblers. It’s been a good year to see them.

Female Goldfinches never get much press so I thought I’d share these two photos.

I always hear White-Throated Sparrows’ little chip notes before I see them. It was nice to have one posing.

In the Big Bird Flyover Department, it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen an Osprey. I used to see one flying over the Des Plaines River when I visited Ottawa Trail, but that location is no longer available. I haven’t been back since they built a levy. It will be interesting to see what happens with the river, with all the rain we are getting this week.


A rare glimpse of Mrs. Bluebird Tuesday morning.

Eastern Bluebird

Early on I saw this Least Flycatcher from the bridge, at quite a distance.

Most of the warblers were distant and high in the trees, so much so that I didn’t always know what I was looking at until I processed the photos.

Black-and-White Warblers have been a bit evasive this year.

Something about the cool, slow start to spring has made the moss look happier.

Here’s a bird I never thought I’d see. It was really far away so I had no idea what it was until later.

Palm Warblers are still around but blending in too well with their surroundings.

One of my favorites, Canada Warbler, was down low but in the shade.

Here’s one of two female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks I saw together in the same location.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)

I first saw the man below a couple weeks ago, I think. He was playing loud music from that speaker thing he’s got in his right hand. Keeping my social distance, I cupped my hands over my ears. The next time I heard him coming, he was playing “Scotland the Brave”. I thought about whatever PTSD he was suffering from, it was too bad he had to foist it on other people, but I decided not to let him bother me and maybe it was a good thing he was walking his dog in the woods. Anyway, it’s likely he’s been out every day since the lockdown began.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are challenging to spot, but it’s often rewarding when I do see them.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Below you can barely see a Spotted Sandpiper in the shadow of the bent log.

I actually saw a flock of thirty or more Common Grackles fly in on Tuesday.

There are a lot of Brown-headed Cowbirds this year.

Brown-headed Cowbirds

Here’s one of those surprise warblers I found later in the photographs. I had to do some thinking about this one. When I think of a Blackburnian Warbler I always imagine the males. This is a female. It took me a while to figure her out.

Magnolias are usually easier to see than this one, but migration isn’t over yet.

Distant but distinguishable Black-throated Green Warblers.

I don’t see Hairy Woodpeckers half as often as Downies. I find though that I’m getting to be able to distinguish them by their feather pattern first.

I had been waiting for the Indigo Buntings to show up. I was to see about a dozen of them yesterday. These two were the first I saw on Tuesday.

Baltimore Orioles are setting up their territories.

Thanks for making it to the end of this long post! After I kept adding birds to the ebird list, I reported 51 species for Tuesday morning. I went back to the Portage Saturday and found some more beautiful birds. I’ll be back as soon as possible. Hope you are safe and well as can be, wherever you are.

9 thoughts on “Half a Well Day Off for Migration

  1. I see! I take it that you had a cornucopia bird day! Great! I wish all those birds to be here in my backyard. Have fun, my dear! 🙂

    • Thanks, H.J.! It’s really a different situation this year. I’m under less time stress, so the slower I move, the more birds I see. I think you should get some migrants in your backyard! 🙂

    • Thanks. It’s really letting the camera do all the work. If I didn’t have the photographs to pour over I wouldn’t be seeing half as many birds. The photographs have bought me visual time to study when I can’t be in the field. The harder work is figuring out the songs so I know what I can expect to see.

    • Oh thanks, Donna. The luxury of having an entire morning to do nothing but slowly prowl through my favorite hangout was wonderful. Now that I’m home I feel like I should be outside all the time: wish it were possible. 🙂

  2. You caught a lot of colorful little guys! Someone told me the insect-eating birds are more visible now because the cold is reducing the insect population and there isn’t enough food.

    • Hmm, I haven’t heard that. The weather does affect the leafing out of the trees and when the insects emerge. Insecticides and things like leaf blowers likely reduce insect populations more than the weather. The cold weather has held back a lot of migrants, so they got a bit of a late start this year and they always tend to fallout after a storm.

    • I just saw on Facebook where this came from – apparently Julie Zickefoose, who has written books about birds forever, published a post on her blog about the phenomenon of all the pretty birds being seen in our yards lately – that they are starving because of the cold spring and lack of food. It doesn’t surprise me but she probably does a better job explaining than I do. Personally I haven’t had too many unusual visitors, only have been happy to be home and seeing them. I had my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird yesterday, a female. Anyway, here’s the link to her blog post:https://juliezickefoose.blogspot.com/2020/05/all-pretty-birds.html?fbclid=IwAR31LJy-EU0S7FXBzGjEEewOjGaTn640Klt5pT8OaW6KnyuKhgnpi2d0_WA

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