Getting Reacquainted with Yellow-rumped Warblers

There have been moments in past migrations when it has seemed like all we were seeing were Yellow-rumped Warblers. Specifically, in this part of the country we have the Myrtle variety. The birds look quite different in the fall than they do in the spring, and even contrasts between individuals can be a little daunting. After reviewing the photos I took yesterday morning in Riverside, I’ve come to the conclusion that I had three different individual Yellow-rumped Warblers.

There are a couple field marks beyond the one for which the bird is named, which you can always count on, however, and it was good to review them after my visual brain has been filled with images of all the other warblers I have seen or might see. The undertail pattern is consistent and striking.

The other feature is a split eyering. And there’s just something about a Myrtle’s face after you’ve seen more than a few.

Here are more images of the three individuals. You will see how variable their plumages appear. No. 1 is below, which also is the same bird at the top of the post and directly above.

No. 2 was a little yellower underneath.

And No. 3, sort of drab-looking. But this bird was so cooperative I obliged it by taking way too many photos.

There were a few other warblers I had a harder time capturing as they were way up in their favorite tree again. I had hoped maybe the storm Tuesday night would bring a few more birds down. Here’s a Blackpoll Warbler, one of only a couple warblers I captured clearly enough.

And a Chestnut-sided Warbler.

A few more of the hard-to-see Chestnut-sided Warbler.

And to make things a little bit more confusing, I had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, which appeared really yellow in this light.

Beyond the few warblers, the Great Egrets were present again just south of the Hofmann Tower. There were eight of them at this spot but I could not capture them all clearly in one photo.

Then as the foot bridge came into view later, there were two more Great Egrets and a Great Blue Heron.

I heard and then saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker in a tree close to the sidewalk. If these birds are anything like they were last fall and into the winter, I will be seeing a lot of them soon.

I had a couple Gray-cheeked Thrushes.

Mallards are few at the moment.

There are still some Double-crested Cormorants on the river. I managed to barely catch this one in flight.

At my feet on the Riverside Lawn trail, a Powdered Dancer Damselfly.

I stayed home today and worked in the backyard while waiting for the tree service to come. I cleared out a huge amount of an invasive species that I had mistakenly assumed was something I planted after I noticed it was bothering the heck out of me and taking over. I will finish digging up what’s left of it over the weekend. The weather was perfect for working outdoors at a coolness ranging from 54 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. We remain cool tomorrow. Two workers will be back to replace the center post and repair my fence. Life is good.

Looks like Chantarelle Mushrooms were growing atop the old Ohio Buckeye stump
And here’s what was left of the stump after they cut it down – being sent to the grinder.

Riverside Morning

I managed to get out of the house before the kid rush this morning. I should explain. There’s an elementary school at the end of my block and now that classes have resumed and I am retired, the parade of cars and parents walking their kids to school every morning is a phenomenon I rarely witnessed when I was working and already out the door for my commute.

Blue Jays rarely sit still long enough to be photographed but they were very active and noisy this morning and when one flew right into my warbler tree, well, you see what happened.

It was perfect timing to arrive at the Hofmann Tower, to see all the herons getting their morning together. I counted 8 Great Egrets and there were 2 Great Blue Herons at one point. A couple Great Egrets got into a bit of a disagreement. I think the Great Blue Heron in the last photo below may have broken up the fight.

One Great Blue Heron stood its ground.

While another decided it had enough.

After all that excitement I wondered what if anything I would see. We had a little thunderstorm activity last night which might have shaken things up a wee bit.

The Des Plaines River is full of water…

I crossed the Joliet Avenue bridge to the Riverside paved trail and walked slowly, staring up into the tall trees toward warbler calls I could hear. And sure enough there were some warblers. Not many, but a variety, so to speak. Unfortunately they were so far away and so active it was hard to capture them well but I managed some photographs of them and other migrants.

Blackpoll Warbler

A few fleeting photos of a Bay-breasted Warbler were welcome.

Barely captured was a Cape May Warbler.

An American Redstart…

And a Magnolia Warbler.

Other birds appeared.

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Gray Catbird
Northern Cardinal

The Mourning Doves were statuesque.

And a first-of-season species was represented by this Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Gray-cheeked Thrushes continue to be a presence this fall.

And one little Mallard by the footbridge caught my attention.

That’s my quick report from this morning. I will go to the Portage tomorrow to see if there are any new birds there. I just met with my arborist who is going to take care of my tree issues Thursday morning, so I will probably miss that day on the trail. Wednesday night is predicted to be a high-migration night, so missing Thursday could be disappointing, but tonight is also a very high migration forecast, which could mean tomorrow will be a busy bird morning. If I can hold onto that thought before I fall asleep I should be able to get up good and early tomorrow.

Riverside Wednesday and Today

Well, it looks like warbler migration has slowed down for the moment. I am hopeful that this is just a temporary blip on the radar, so to speak, but our “birdcast” has been uninspiring and it’s pretty quiet on the ground.

I was seeing a few warblers on Wednesday but practically none today. Indeed I had so few species today I have decided to combine both days into one post.

I was very happy to find a Chestnut-sided Warbler in my photos on Wednesday as I hadn’t seen one yet this fall.

And perhaps best of all for its confirming orange toes, a beautiful Blackpoll Warbler posed for several photographs. Indeed it could have been two different individuals or the same one, depending on the light.

A few more of the Blackpoll.

And now, for the More Confusing than Ever Fall Warbler, another Blackpoll.

After much deliberation, I have concluded this is indeed a Blackpoll Warbler

The only other warbler I was able to capture was a distant Magnolia Warbler.

I tend to think I will see Magnolia Warblers more regularly than I have this fall. Here’s one that was the only warbler I saw today. And not well, either.

There weren’t even Tennessee Warblers today, but I had them on Wednesday, however briefly.

The rest of them…

Red-eyed Vireos have been abundant the past week or two as well, and I got lucky again on Wednesday.

A scruffy-looking Red-eyed Vireo

So why did I start out with a female Northern Flicker? She was close enough to photograph well and she was preoccupied enough not to mind me clicking away.

The abundance of American Goldfinches seems to have calmed down.

This Rose-breasted Grosbeak was sitting still atop a tree.

Cedar Waxwings are moving around in flocks. Unfortunately all these individuals were quite backlit.

This is my favorite light on a Swainson’s Thrush.

An American Robin commanded attention

After weeks of shallow waters, the Des Plaines River is quite full again.

There was one Great Egret available for a photograph on Wednesday.

But this morning when I got out of my car and walked south of the Hofmann Tower to see if the Great Blue Egret was holding its ground, I found seven (yes, 7) Great Egrets.

As I started my walk in Riverside, I encountered more Great Egrets.

No. 8
No. 9
Could this be No. 10?

On land, there were Mourning Doves holding their perches.

Blue Jays were noisy and visible this morning.

And a Belted Kingfisher sat perched over the river not far from the Joliet Avenue bridge when I first started out.

Looking up into the trees for birds, I found a well-attended wasp nest.

The search for birds resumes tomorrow morning in Columbus Park, where I am responsible for showing up. I am going to turn in for the night so I can get up early enough to meet whoever else shows up.

Surprises Abound at Riverside

This is another 2-visit post – from September 2nd and a week later on the 9th. There was a lot more happening on September 2nd but yesterday’s visit to Riverside produced a surprise or two, so I’m including it. The American Goldfinch at the top of the post was in my front yard when I left the house, but maybe it’s surprising too as it didn’t leave but instead allowed me to take its picture.

Just as some birding acquaintances had mentioned they weren’t seeing Red-winged Blackbirds anymore, easily 100 or more blackbirds in a mixed flock of Red-wingeds and Common Grackles descended on Riverside that morning.

Blackbirds in an oak tree

Even more surprising later was a hail of acorns falling onto me, the trail, and everywhere when I was walking the trail in Riverside Lawn. Below is a video as I tried to capture some of the craziness of birds landing and hopping in two big oak trees, causing the acorns to fall. The birds – Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles – don’t eat acorns, so I can only surmise they were having fun.

It was hard to get a decent shot of the acorns on the ground. But I managed to capture a chipmunk and its stuffed cheeks with my cell phone.

Apparently the acorns were scattered about more than it seemed

There was a small but nice selection of warblers on the 2nd. I was actually able to capture an American Redstart or two. One thing I like about the photograph below is that it shows off this bird’s rictal bristles, which I thought, like many others, had something to do with catching insects. However that assumption has been challenged and I found a brief article by Dr. Roger Lederer interesting. Still, it’s nice to see the bird’s whiskers.

I think I saw my last Golden-winged Warbler on the 2nd. Below are photos of what appears to be a female Golden-winged Warbler. Nice of her to show off her prize in the last photo.

I also saw a Wilson’s Warbler that morning close to the paved walk along the river. Wilson is one of my favorites.

Also in the Queen Anne’s Lace was a lovely Tennessee Warbler. After this fall I have become a big fan of Queen Anne’s Lace.

Wait – a few more warblers, and then back to surprises. Here’s a very nice Black-throated Green Warbler I saw that day. Another one of my all-time favorite subjects.

And a Cape May Warbler.

And a Magnolia Warbler…

And one more Tennessee Warbler.

Where were we? Mourning Doves like to pose as if they are part of a frieze.

Also on the 2nd, an Osprey made a brief appearance, the light playing with its backlit silhouette.

Congratulations for making it this far. I think we’re about halfway there. This looks like a brand new Northern Cardinal.

Swainson’s Thrushes have been easy to see now for a couple weeks.

Below is a Hairy Woodpecker. I don’t see these as often as the Downies so, hail Hairy.

Delighting to the song of an Eastern Pewee all summer but rarely seeing one, it was great to see this bird well, if briefly, on the 2nd.

And young Gray Catbirds are not shy.

The Common Grackles have been bathing and sipping water on the rocks all summer. I think I know how this feels when the pool is closed for a week – let’s get those last luxurious baths in before we have to leave.

When I went back to Riverside on the 9th, I was a little surprised to see several species other than the Common Grackles on the rocks. The water is a little shallower now.

At some point on the Riverside Lawn trail there’s a tree with these glorious Chicken of the Woods Mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) growing. I am not tempted but I have read they are edible.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this Magnolia Warbler yesterday is that it was the only warbler I saw well enough to photograph.