It’s going to take me a day or two to recover from yesterday’s Gull Frolic and make sense of those images, so in the meantime I am back with more from late September at the Chicago Portage where I spent the bulk of my time following warblers feeding in the Hackberry leaves. Although it has been nice to look at these birds in anticipation of their return. my goal this spring will be to publish daily if possible.
These photos were taken on September 24. There were even more respectable images from September 26 so I will be back with those too. My laptop hard drive appreciates your indulgence in these housekeeping matters.
Black-throated Green Warblers were good subjects this past fall.
Just as cooperative, maybe even more so, were Blackpoll Warblers.
This turned out to be a rather reclusive Tennessee Warbler.
Swainson’s Thrushes predominated.
Below is a female Red-bellied Woodpecker, since I have seen only males all winter…
A late-leaving Indigo Bunting undergoing transformation.
Magnolia Warblers were everywhere this past fall but not always easy to capture. They remain among my favorites (in no small part because it’s always easy to figure them out).
Can’t leave out the Downy Woodpecker,
A nice surprise was this female – or immature – Rose-breasted Grosbeak. As I recall I saw one or two for a couple days.
I see more Northern Flickers flying away so it’s nice when they sit still a moment.
Two Mallards resting in the duckweed stream.
As for real time, we warmed up today and there is bright sunshine, but the wind makes being outdoors difficult for the birds and possibly even walking. Oh maybe I’m just making excuses, but I am still sort of worn out after yesterday. I wish a peaceful Sunday and the coming week to you all, wherever you are. I will be back soon with more colorful birds.
Last Friday after some rain and wind, I was called down to the front of our office building by a coworker who had gone down for a cigarette. She said there was a little bird in distress. As it turned out there were two birds in distress, the one she saw flopping around almost as if it was having seizures being a first-year Cape May Warbler, and another, the stunned Chestnut-Sided Warbler you can see below on the left. I called the Bird Collision Monitors hotline and got their voicemail. After waiting to hear back for about twenty minutes, I thought I could not leave the two birds alone on the sidewalk surrounded by foot traffic, glass and steel, so I took them both to the park-like setting about a block away at 311 South Wacker Drive. You can see them both on the grass below. I sat with them and observed the Cape May was dead, but when I reached for the Chestnut-Sided, it chirped and flew away, so I felt better for having rescued it. When the Bird Collision Monitors did finally call me, they said they had picked up over 200 birds that day. The little bird you see below on the building ledge wasn’t stunned but it was lost, as it flew up from the sidewalk looking for a way out of the buildings. I believe it’s a Least Flycatcher.
There were a lot of birds in the park Friday, so I went back on Monday afternoon with the camera. But not before checking the potted trees in the front of my building, where I found among other more common species, the Connecticut Warbler at the top of this post.
There were a lot of Blackpolls but it was difficult to get a decent picture. Although I am thankful for the landscape architects planting lots of locust trees which are great for migrants, the trees are quite tall and I only carry my 300mm lens around with me during the week, so it was a challenge.
The Wilson’s Warbler never got low enough for me to capture his trademark skullcap but there’s something so Wilson’s about the shade of yellow. I really think whoever names colors could come up with an entire Warbler Collection. For as many field marks as my brain has memorized, I think I sometimes recognize these birds by the shade of yellow, if there’s good light.
There’s a familiar phrase, “warbler neck,” which is what you get looking up at these birds in the tall trees.
How nice of this Chestnut-Sided to almost come down to my level.
Then there are the birds that prefer ground level, like the Common Yellowthroat below.
On the other hand I was surprised to find this Pine Warbler in the grass when I later went through my photographs.
It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten close enough to get a good picture of a Black-and-White Warbler and Monday was no exception. This was the best I could do.
American Redstarts come in several color combinations this time of year. The second-year or more adult males are black and orangey-red. The young males are yellow where the red would be, but it’s a warmer yellow than the females. I seem to have captured a bird that is somewhere in between the first and second-year males below the pictures of the older bird, judging from the darker gray on its head and back.
(Click on the pictures just below to see how this male’s plumage is changing.)
American Redstart (female)
The biggest surprise perhaps was to see another Connecticut Warbler. These birds are normally hard to find, and here on the same day I had two within a block of each other.
Suffice it to say that the lure of fall migration is irresistible, especially with nice weather. The birds are taking advantage of the calm skies in this part of the country as well. I have been going back to the park every day this week and as of Tuesday all these birds seem to have left and no new ones have come in. I would like to think they all took off Monday night, navigating well out of the city and continuing their trips to Central and South America.
I’ll have lots more to report if I can manage it. Hope you are having decent weather wherever you are.
Fall is suddenly upon us with cooler temperatures, shorter days, and finally some rain. It has been raining all day today, true to the weather predictions which the past couple weeks have not held, at least in my neighborhood. So we were pretty dry until now. I finally gave in to reality and decided to get caught up on indoor chores, rather than go out on the migrant quest. But over the past week there have been birds arriving at the two spots I can visit regularly downtown, 155 North Wacker Drive on my way in to work and Lake Shore East Park on my lunch hour, in particular on Friday after the cold front pushed more birds down to us.
Northern Waterthrush, 155 N. Wacker Drive
Tennessee Warbler behind glass at 155 North Wacker deli
At 155 North Wacker I never know where I’m going to see birds, so the waterthrush flew up onto the top of a wall on Wednesday, and on Friday, the Tennessee Warbler was stuck inside the deli. I called the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors without realizing I had not told them exactly where I was but by the time they got there the worker inside the deli whom I had been trying to help get the bird down and out the door managed to catch the warbler in something net-like, brought it out to me, and as soon as I could say “it’s fine” the Tennessee escaped his hand and flew into the trees. I would have rather gotten a picture of him free, but he was not having anything to do with us after all that.
Female American Redstart, Lake Shore East Park
Redstarts have been most abundant. Of course this time of year a lot of them look more like Yellowstarts. The first year males are distinguishable from the females such as the one above by their more brightly-colored feathers and the prescient orange look to the yellow on the side of the breast. The young male below was a bit puffed-out looking through a lot of the shots; I hope he’s feeling better.
First-Year Male American Redstart
Swainson’s Thrushes have also been here and there. Not as many as I would have seen in the larger park space but still you could pretty much count on seeing or hearing one somewhere.
Swainson’s Thrush, Lake Shore East Park
Below is a not great picture of what may be the first Blackpoll I’ve seen this fall. There were other shots that fill out the whole bird a bit more but none as revealing. That’s one thing about taking pictures of warblers. You might end up with the tail feathers in one picture and the breast or head in another. Or you might just get a good look at the underside.
Blackpoll Warbler, Lake Shore East Park
Below is a Female Wilson’s Warbler. Again not a great picture but a nice bird to see, nevertheless.
Female Wilson’s Warbler, 155 N. Wacker Drive
Friday there were at least a dozen Palm Warblers foraging in the grass and in the trees in Lake Shore East Park.
Palm Warbler, Lake Shore East Park
The third most common bird has been Magnolia Warbler. Below is what looks to me like a nice first-year male.
Magnolia Warbler, Lake Shore East Park
If I can get up early tomorrow I might try the lakefront before work. If nothing else, I owe my crows a visit.
If the Osprey from my last post and a few other interesting water-oriented birds had not kept me occupied on Sunday, I might have been gone before these warblers came to life. Indeed I had turned back when the sun came out from behind the clouds around 11:00 a.m., which is usually when everything starts to slow down. Enter the Chickadees, Redstarts, and these few characters.
The Ovenbird below was a little too far away.
But the female Magnolia Warbler spent a moment or two preening before seeming to ask me just what it was I found so interesting about her.
Female Magnolia Warbler
The weather is suddenly beastly hot, but I am hopeful the cool front predicted for the end of the week will bring a few more tropical jewels my way.