A Travellerspoint blog

Rock On, Spring Migration!

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A very, very chaotic week of practicing for performances, cramming for tests, and squeezing every remaining moment out of the day searching out the countless avian wonders of spring migration has resulted in no blog posts during this week, so here is a cumulative post for the entire week:

Disclaimer: this post is very long, so I will break it up into days and have this be a photo-post with the occasional checklist.

Tuesday, May 5:

Before leaving for school, my Dad spotted this rogue PINE SISKIN on the thistle feeder (I, however, took the photo), strangely a bird that is usually found between the months of November and March here in Illinois:

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, such as this one pictured in our flowering apple tree, are commom migrants during May:

As are these ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAKS, which congregate on our sunflower seed feeders:

Wednesday, May 6:

Taking advantage of a late-arrival Wednesday, I led a group of 13 birders on an Oak Park Bird Walk from 7:00am to about 9:15am. The highlight of the walk, this uncommon male BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, would be seen by the entire group fairly early on:



My first GRAY CATBIRD of the year:

Male WILSON'S WARBLER, quite early in the season for these guys:


Here is the checklist from the Wednsday, May 6 bird walk:

35 species

Ring-billed Gull 5
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 1
Mourning Dove 2
Chimney Swift 2
Downy Woodpecker 1
Warbling Vireo 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Swainson's Thrush 2
European Starling 1
Ovenbird 1
Blue-winged Warbler 2
Black-and-white Warbler 5
Tennessee Warbler 3
Nashville Warbler 10
American Redstart 2
Northern Parula 2
Magnolia Warbler 1
Blackburnian Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 2
Palm Warbler 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
Black-throated Green Warbler 7
Wilson's Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 18
Northern Cardinal 20
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 3
Common Grackle 5
Baltimore Oriole 2
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 3
House Sparrow 10

Later in the day, I found this extremely rare "Lawrence's Warbler," a hybrid bird, in my backyard. It is the rarer hybrid form (the other being the "Brewster's Warbler") of their two parents: the Blue-winged Warbler (shown earlier in this post) and the Golden-winged Warbler (shown later in this post):

Sadly, these hybrids are becoming more common as the Blue-winged Warblers are expanding their range and the Golden-winged Warblers are being pushed out of their natural habitat and therefore declining.

Thursday, May 7 was uneventful avian-wise, except for a single GRAY CATBIRD.

Friday, May 8:

Some backyard birding yielded in this FOY (first-of-the-year) BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, an uncommon species:

And a more common MAGNOLIA WARBLER:

Saturday, May 9:

In honor of eBird.org's Global Big Day, which is a worldwide initiative for birders to collectively identify the most number of species of birds in one day by submitting their checklists to eBird.org, I decided to make today a big birding day. I started off by leading an Oak Park Bird Walk for 8 birders. 36 species were seen in total, including 12 warbler species.

Extremely cooperative male CAPE MAY WARBLER:

Here is the female:

The walk ended with this federally threatened GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER, such a cool species to have basically in my backyard!

Here is the bird checklist for Saturday, May 9th bird walk:

36 species

Ring-billed Gull 2
Mourning Dove 1
Chimney Swift 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Least Flycatcher 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
House Wren 1
Veery 1
Swainson's Thrush 2
American Robin 20
Gray Catbird 1
European Starling 1
Golden-winged Warbler 1
Tennessee Warbler 5
Nashville Warbler 5
American Redstart 8
Cape May Warbler 2
Northern Parula 2
Magnolia Warbler 2
Blackburnian Warbler 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 10
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 3
White-throated Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 5
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Common Grackle 2
Baltimore Oriole 1
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 10

After choir rehearsal, I took the bus up to Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary in search of an extremely rare shorebird called the Snowy Plover which has been seen there recently, as well as all of the other migrants that are attracted to that amazing place.

When I arrived, I searched the beach thoroughly, but failed to find anything interesting except for this far-away RUDDY TURNSTONE on the pier:

I decided to bird the Magic Hedge and then return to the beach in hopes of the plover later. I soon found two absolutely stunning male SCARLET TANAGERS at eye level, a phenomenon one can probably only see in the Magic Hedge at Montrose:




Suddenly, a kind birder gave me a tip that he had just seen the Snowy Plover down at the beach, so I raced down there with all of my energy, and after less than thirty seconds of searching, I laid my eyes on the insanely cute fluffball known as a mega-rarity SNOWY PLOVER! Breathing intensely, I crouched down low as to not disturb the bird, and the plover began to forage around me, getting as close as 5 feet away at times and allowing for these photos! What an awesome life bird!!!

(for orientation, one should note that the plover is smaller than an American Robin)

When things seemed they couldn't get any better, my life bird DUNLIN, another classy-looking shorebird species, joined the party!

After an extremely gratifying session of photographing those wonderful shorebirds, I headed back to the Magic Hedge to treat myself to a dose of brightly-colored migrant passerines. I was not dissapointed, as I found 18 species of migrant warblers, including rare ones such as MOURNING, HOODED, CANADA, and GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLERS! It was awesome, there were so many birds!


Female HOODED WARBLER. The males of this species, with their brilliant yellow color and contrasting full black hood, are my absolute favorite bird of all time. The females are still pretty nice, however:

Very early-in-the-season male CANADA WARBLER who didn't quite want to pose for that perfect photograph:

Male HAIRY WOODPECKER, uncommon for the lakefront:


As I was leaving the Magic Hedge, I was stunned to capture the most awesome photo of a federally threatened GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER I have ever taken! Woo-hoo!

And a nice male BALTIMORE ORIOLE to finish the day:

Here is the checklist, an impressive 60 species in total, for my Montrose Point outing:

60 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 5
Mallard 7
American Coot 1
Snowy Plover 1 Photos
Killdeer 2
Spotted Sandpiper 15
Ruddy Turnstone 1
Dunlin 5
Ring-billed Gull 20
Herring Gull 2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 5
Hairy Woodpecker 2 Photos
Northern Flicker 1
Empidonax sp. 1
Eastern Phoebe 2
American Crow 5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10
Purple Martin 5
Tree Swallow 1
Bank Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 8
Cliff Swallow 2
Marsh Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4
Veery 1
Swainson's Thrush 2
Wood Thrush 1
American Robin 20
Gray Catbird 5
Brown Thrasher 1
European Starling 5
Ovenbird 4
Northern Waterthrush 6
Golden-winged Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Tennessee Warbler 3
Nashville Warbler 2
Mourning Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 15
Hooded Warbler 1
American Redstart 5
Magnolia Warbler 2
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 15
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Canada Warbler 1
Wilson's Warbler 1
Eastern Towhee 5
Song Sparrow 5
Lincoln's Sparrow 5
Swamp Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 10
White-crowned Sparrow 15
Scarlet Tanager 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 20
Baltimore Oriole 1
House Sparrow 3

Spring migration 2015 is turning out to be THE GREATEST spring migration I have EVER experienced! Here are my favorite birds from the week:


Tuesday, May 5
Bird-of-the-day: Pine Siskin

Wednesday, May 6
Bird-of-the-day: "Lawrence's Warbler" hybrid
Runner-up: Blue-winged Warbler (interestingly, a parent of the Lawrence's)

Thursday, May 7
Bird-of-the-day: Gray Catbird

Friday, May 8
Bird-of-the-day: Bay-breasted Warbler
Runner-up: Magnolia Warbler

Saturday, May 9:
Bird-of-the-day: Snowy Plover [LIFE BIRD]
Runners-up: Dunlin [LIFE BIRD], Golden-winged Warbler, Hooded Warbler
Honorable Mention: Scarlet Tanager, Cape May Warbler, Canada Warbler

Overall, an AWESOME week of birding! Stay tuned for more to come tomorrow!

GREAT birding,

World Life List: 753 Species (2 life birds today: Snowy Plover & Dunlin)

Posted by skwclar 20:59 Archived in USA

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