Skulkers and Flycatchers

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler, Millennium Park

Still coming down from a weekend of intense but wonderful birding in Michigan. I might have managed a post Tuesday night were it not for a power outage around 8:00 p.m. that lasted three-plus hours. But it turned out to be an unexpected opportunity to catch up on some sleep, after whispering admonitions to the house birds to stay perched and sleep through the thunder and lightning.

Least Flycatcher

Least Flycatcher, Millennium Park

So I got up early yesterday morning and went to Millennium Park, dodging the imminent rain drops. Flycatchers were abundant, as reported from other lakefront locations.

Alder Flycatcher

Alder Flycatcher?

Anyway here are some birds I encountered yesterday morning and later in the afternoon at Lake Shore East Park. I think the bird above is an Alder Flycatcher, but he didn’t say anything, so technically I should call him “Empidonax Species.”

The real surprises, or I suppose you could say wish-list possibilities, appeared in Lake Shore East Park yesterday afternoon. I went back this morning and could not find them… One was the prized Connecticut Warbler, skulking around in dark places: I guess the photograph below will have to do for now.

Connecticut Warbler

Connecticut Warbler, Lake Shore East Park

Add a female Common Yellowthroat. Perhaps she is the mate of the male who was singing yesterday and again this morning. She is the least uncommon of the three birds here, but lovely nonetheless, and easy to confuse with the other two.

Female Common Yellowthroat

Female Common Yellowthroat

The female Mourning Warbler below…

Female Mourning Warbler

Female Mourning Warbler

and again here… is another less-commonly seen “skulker.”

Female Mourning Warbler

Female Mourning Warbler

Thus we have three skulkers who all look quite a bit alike, and in most field guides they’re not far from each other, so you can make the comparisons and note the differences or throw up your hands in total confusion.

Eastern Wood Pewee, Lake Shore East Park

Eastern Wood Pewee, Lake Shore East Park

Not to skimp on flycatchers, the one above is at least recognizable as a Pewee. He sang a bit, too – always nice to hear. If I run into a Pewee song soon I’ll update this post.

Crow with Bat

Crow with Bat

On my way out, I walked through the back of the Aon Building where I have seen birds on occasion, and encountered this crow with its prey: I suspect it’s a little brown bat.

Crow with Bat IMG_2273_1

The crow took off with its bat soon after I shot a few more photos. I’m sure it didn’t want me to draw attention to its prize.

My last momentary offering is a recording of Beniamino, one of my Zebra Finch males, singing his heart out from atop a microphone while I’m practicing the prelude to the F major English Suite by Bach (it may take me a year, but I’ll get through these suites – 2 more to go after this one). Travel time has taken its toll on playing for the birds but I plan to stay put for a few months and get some more music in my fingers.

Endless thanks to all who follow me and to those I follow – I have some catching up to do! I’ll be back soon with reports from Michigan and the Kirtland’s Warbler.

Shorter Days and the Winter Wren

Winter Wren

Winter Wren

Almost every day the past few weeks I have seen a Winter Wren. Donald Kroodsma wrote an article years ago in Cornell’s publication, Living Bird, about how every hour as the sun rises there’s a winter wren singing somewhere on the planet. Unfortunately when Winter Wrens are foraging in city parks or a berm outside a skyscraper, they’re not singing. But they’re cute little characters and I have to smile with delight. I finally found one a few days ago who tolerated my glee long enough for this picture.

Early Morning Crows in Grant Park

The days are shortening quickly and it’s darker than ever in the morning. It’s getting harder to get up an hour early and go downtown before work. I’m not a fan of the new extended daylight savings time. Prior to this “energy saving” innovation, right about now we’d be setting the clocks back and thereby have more light early. I don’t get the energy-saving part at all: if you’re up this early you still have to turn lights on. I have to leave lights on for my indoor birds so I don’t leave them in the dark.

We’ll revisit the crows in a couple months when they’re in the snow.

Sneak preview

Eastern Phoebe

There were two Eastern Phoebes perched on this mesh fence; here’s one of them. Likely the last of the flycatchers I’ll see downtown until spring.

Monroe Harbor early October morning

The sun was beginning to break through the clouds on Monroe Harbor but the fishing birds, which included Horned Grebes and Double-Crested Cormorants, were only silhouettes. It will take some time to get used to the angle of this light.

Harbor Crow

Have peanuts, will travel. I still can’t get over how friendly the juvenile crows are this year, and there are so many of them.

Crow perched on a park bench.

Would you like a seat?