I could almost just as easily say post-crow, as it has been months since I have seen crows. But the weekend before last I managed to go down to the lakefront parks where all the activity was just north of Buckingham Fountain. There was a flock of warblers that I attempted to follow, but the moment I saw and heard crows, I knew I had to follow their cawing.
Just north of Buckingham Fountain. They turned out to be pre-teens, still a little awkward, losing the last of their brown feathers for their adult plumage that resembles blue-black velvet. But finding a place to put peanuts is more of a challenge than it used to be. There are fences surrounding all the grassy areas. And of course there had to be workers emptying trash cans. I didn’t want them to think they had to clean up peanuts too. I put the peanuts inside a wrought-iron fence that surrounded a sculpture.
The young crows barely hesitated. It occurred to me later that I have never met these birds before, but we all seemed to know each other. I didn’t even have my black tote bag, instead I was hiding peanuts in my backpack. But the moment I took out the peanuts and put them down, the crows came quickly. Indeed they had been following me, anticipating the result.
And I knew I didn’t have to worry about them leaving peanuts there for long, as they tried to cache as many as possible before taking off to stash them.
I hope I have more opportunities to see the crows as I miss their company terribly. It’s reassuring to know I can still find them somewhere along the lakefront.
I will be back, with the warbler part of that morning.
As I was going through the accumulated mail this weekend, I found the latest issue of the Chicago Audubon Compass and as I was reading down the list of presenters at the upcoming Birding America XI which will happen on March 19, 2016, I saw that Kevin McGowan from Cornell University is the keynote speaker!! I am so excited! Kevin McGowan studies CROWS, and I found I knew a lot of what he was talking about from his video presentation last year, “To Know The Crow: Insights and Stories From A Quarter-Century Of Crow Study” which is still available for viewing on the Cornell website.
Kevin McGowan was all excited about following the peanut tradition, but I wonder if he knows the power of hot dogs. I bought some new hot dogs yesterday to start off the cold weather season. I may start spoiling my crow friends later this week. In the meantime here are a few crow pix that didn’t make it into previous posts.
I can hardly wait to continue my crow study which always goes better during the winter months when there are fewer distractions…
2014 goes out with a shiver for us. Yesterday the temperature dropped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (that was the high), and today it’s even colder with a wind chill of minus 15 below. I am blessed to have the day off from work, which turns out to be that much more fortuitous since the trains were not running this morning due to mechanical failure and I would have been shivering at the station shelter trying to figure out the next best way to get to work.
Chicago River Fog
There was ample sunshine yesterday which is often the way with extra cold temperatures, so I stopped by the Thompson Center on the way in with the camera already assembled this time to see if the Gray Catbird was available for a photograph. I found it first shivering under a bush and looking not too happy.
Then when a woman asked me for directions, it gave the Catbird a chance to perch on a twig while I wasn’t looking, and when I turned back to see, it posed for several photos before taking off for the top of one of the small trees planted in the sidewalk by the curb. The next time to check on this bird’s status will be Friday, the second day of the new year.
Later, after noon when the sun was shining full blast, I set out for the lakefront parks to see if I could visit some crows before next year. It’s been weeks. I decided to check out Maggie Daley Park first as it is partially open in time for ice skaters to use the skating ribbon.
While a lot of trees have been planted and there is sod and whatever else, the immediate lack of green space and preponderance of human kitsch is disappointing to me.
I suspect this is the “Climbing Wall”…?
I have no idea what this bodes for hungry migrants along the lakefront come spring, but I suspect I will continue to find more migrants at Lake Shore East Park than at Maggie Daley for quite a while.
Another view – the lakefront is beyond. Are those wooden trunks recycled trees “planted” upside down?
I hated Millennium Park when it was first built, but after I started seeing things like a flock of Golden-Crowned Kinglets on the lawn and the crows adopting the Pritzker Pavilion for a nesting site, not to mention the birds that visit Lurie Garden, it has become bird friendlier with time. So maybe in 5-10 years Maggie Daley will be okay for birds too. But I feel as if the more improvements being made lately to the lakefront, the less friendly they are to any species other than humans. Which in the long run means they’re not really human-friendly improvements either.
It wasn’t until I was practically on my way out of Millennium that I found my crows.
There were some adjustments to be made. Has it been so long since we had peanuts that we can’t remember how to carry more than one at a time to a cache location?
Eventually I was joined by a few Black-Capped Chickadees, and almost out of the park I located the Northern Cardinals I heard earlier but they were not interested in becoming visible. Maybe they’re waiting for snow because they know it makes a better picture.
I think I will stay inside most of today. The sunshine does a good job on the indoor crowd, we all feel a bit more possible. Maybe I can post an update of the indoor birds’ status for the new year.
Happy New Year and Thank You to All Who Visit, Read, Follow, Comment, and Fly By my blog – Who ever thought we’d see a year called 2015? This is pretty amazing. 🙂
While taking a break from getting organized and trying to locate the title to my old car… Every morning I look out the back window at the dead Ford sitting on the slab and vow to get rid of it. It’s only a matter of weeks before I will have to buy a new city sticker even though I’m not driving it. I’m sure the cat takes refuge underneath its rusting hulk when she isn’t hiding in the hostas. All reasons to motivate me to tear the house apart, calmly, until I find the misplaced title so I can donate the car to a good cause.
Here are a few pictures taken the end of last week, which was the last time I saw migrants in the city. Some are from 155 N. Wacker on my way into the office. The others were taken in Lake Shore East Park.
Up until Friday there was at least one White-Throated Sparrow at 155 N. Wacker who would start singing whenever I showed up, but Friday I saw a Lincoln’s Sparrow, which is highly unusual this late in the year. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Lincoln’s Sparrow vocalize, though.
Chestnut-Sided Warbler, 155 N. Wacker
There was a Chestnut-Sided Warbler at 155 N. Wacker as well, but the mainstay had been a male Common Yellowthroat who was on site for a couple weeks. As of Tuesday he was gone.
American Redstart, LSE Park
At Lake Shore East Park among the last migrants I saw last week were the female American Redstart, above, and a Least Flycatcher, below.
Least Flycatcher, LSE Park
But now the newest arrivals are fledgling crows. I think there are two, although I saw only this one being weaned last week. Oddly enough, there was never any sound to go with that wide gaping mouth. Perhaps there is a different protocol at hand for Lake Shore East Park and this youngster was instructed not to draw attention to itself by making a racket.
Crow Fledgling, LSE Park
That wide-eyed look of “now what?” is unmistakable.
A series of photographs as the parents’ body language tells the story: “We are not feeding you anymore.” I think I recognize the crow with the bouffant hairdo as a former fledgling from about 4 years ago. Notice how he tries to look profoundly disinterested in the interaction between the fledgling and its mother.
The ultimate insult, after waving the peanut around in front of the fledgling, she takes off with it!
On Tuesday I had some time to hang out with the crows. As far as I could tell, the youngster had not figured out how to do its own peanuts yet and was still falling into a bit of the gaping mouth routine.
By next year if it survives, this fledgling may turn into a peanut expert like the bird below.