Early November at the Chicago Portage

It’s a beautiful, sunny day today and I would be out looking for birds this morning, except that the heat didn’t come on this morning, so I am staying home waiting for the person who installed it to come and figure out why and fix it. So far I tried the usual quick checks to no avail. Thankfully, the sun pouring through the living room windows helps, and I have a great space heater which I brought down from the attic. I may as well write this post I’ve been thinking about since last Saturday’s visit to the Chicago Portage.

You have to walk for quite a while before you hear a bird or see any activity these days. The birds are feeding in flocks, and you either find the flock, or you don’t. It’s easier to pay more attention to the landscape.

And the change in flora…


…and yet almost miss who’s sharing the space next to you.

There were some birds on Thursday, November 2nd. American Goldfinches have been busy foraging for seeds. Black-capped Chickadees never hesitate to at least say hello.

A Mallard in the duckweed

There was a distant White-breasted Nuthatch.

It was still possible to see a Yellow-rumped Warbler here and there.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers will be easier to see than this one which was in the shadows.

There were several Golden-crowned Kinglets.

On Saturday, the 4th, it was another sunny day without much indication of much happening, until I found a feeding frenzy.

There were several Orange-crowned Warblers.

And an American Tree Sparrow or two.

The camera found one Swamp Sparrow.

And a Hermit Thrush.

More Mallards in the duckweed.

Then an unexpected warbler popped up in front of me before I could focus properly. The bright yellow throat reminded me of a Northern Parula which is what it turned out to be. I got one better photograph, which is the sideview at the top of this post.

Also a surprise, and apparently late for this date, was at least one if not two Tennessee Warblers.

The bird in the photograph below looks like it could go either way, but I’m calling it a Tennessee Warbler and not an Orange-crowned. This photograph was not numerically close to the other series.

It has since been very slow at the Portage, and it’s even harder with the distraction of leaves falling off the trees. But it’s good to get out and savor the quiet moments too, while they last. I hope to try go back tomorrow morning after the heat comes on.

I may be tempted to bake a loaf of bread today. A little temporary warmth in the kitchen might be welcome.

6 thoughts on “Early November at the Chicago Portage

  1. Lisa,
    Great shots as always. Love seeing the Goldbird Variation notices in my Inbox. Nice to see the straggling Warblers and amazing color presentation of the Golden Crowned Kinglet.

  2. I hope that your heating get fixed soon. I wish more birds would come and feed on the seed heads in our garden but I fear that we are too far away from the edge of the town.

    • The heat went on by itself shortly after I published this post. So I have no idea what was wrong, as the installer didn’t bother to come over. I suppose I can try changing the battery in the thermostat if it happens again.
      Birds have a way of taking a long time to find a reliable food source. They were back at the same spot this morning when I went to the Portage, but later they moved on to points unseen, so you never know.

  3. Your lead implied that birding was slow this post, yet you held back. After some opening shots of foliage, a sculpture, a bridge and a deer you dropped all the cool bird shots on us viewers. Another great picture of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Those shots of the Orange-crowned warbler that I still find as a challenge to ID. Then the arriving winter sparrows: American Tree and Swamp. Finally the winner: the pictures of a late season Northern Parula.

    • Thanks, Bob. I am also gratified to find birds in the photos that I don’t ID on the spot. The American Tree Sparrows seem to be as prevalent as the Dark-eyed Juncos lately. I think the warblers are gone for the most part but it will be interesting to see if the warmer weather makes for more surprises.

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