A Travellerspoint blog

Blue Grosbeaks!

overcast 77 °F

Today I continued my successful streak of early-summer birding trips. My mom, dad, and I drove out to the Morton Arboretum so I could see a pair of Blue Grosbeaks, a species that is very rare this far north in Illinois. I was also hoping to see Hooded & Cerulean Warblers, however they haven't been seen at the Arb in a few weeks, so I knew the last two species would be a long shot.

Here is a mystery oriole that I photographed - it is probably a female and/or immature Baltimore or Orchard Oriole, but I just can't seem to give this bird a positive identification! Here is my email if you have an ID for this bird: [email protected] UPDATE FRIDAY, JUNE 5: This bird has a very confusing identification, a first-year oddly-molting male ORCHARD ORIOLE:

I walked the Heritage Trail on the east side of the Arboretum for the 1.5 hours we stayed there because that trail is consistently where all of the interesting birds have been seen recently. This GREAT HORNED OWL immediately proved that point because it is always a treat to see an owl during the day:

Soon, I arrived at the grassland where the Blue Grosbeaks have been seen recently (thank you Ed McDevitt for the directions). I saw many small, bright blue birds, but they turned out to be common INDIGO BUNTINGS, like this beautiful male:

Suddenly, I spied a songbird perched atop a small shrub from all the way across the grassland. Knowing Blue Grosbeaks' tendency to perch on the top of shrubs, I got closer to the bird, and it turned out to be my target bird! It was a beautiful male BLUE GROSBEAK! They are extremely similar to the more common Indigo Bunting, however if you contrast this bird with the photo above, you will notice that the grosbeak has brown wings and a heavier beak than the bunting.

I also saw this male chasing a female BLUE GROSBEAK, so hopefully this pair will nest in the Arboretum!


I found this very late male MOURNING WARBLER in the woods west of the grassland where I found the grosbeak. They should have all departed for the sub-boreal forest where they nest by now, but it was a very pleasant surprise to see this bird:

Singing male HOUSE WREN:

Finally, another blue bird to round off the day - an appropriately-named male EASTERN BLUEBIRD:

Bird-of-the-day to the male BLUE GROSBEAK, which I have only seen once for five seconds before today. Runner-up to the late MOURNING WARBLER. The full species list is below.

Good birding,

World Life List: 754 Species (no life birds today)

45 species

Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 5
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 2
Mourning Dove 2
Great Horned Owl 1
Chimney Swift 2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee 3
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Yellow-throated Vireo 1
Red-eyed Vireo 3
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 2
Tree Swallow 7
Barn Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 1
House Wren 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 10
Eastern Bluebird 8
Wood Thrush 1
American Robin 20
European Starling 2
Cedar Waxwing 2
Mourning Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Yellow Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 1
Scarlet Tanager 2
Northern Cardinal 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1
Blue Grosbeak 2 Pair of adult birds in grassland area just west of Big Rock. Male singing and chasing around female. Photos obtained of male.
Indigo Bunting 5
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 8
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Baltimore Oriole 1
Orchard Oriole 1
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 1
House Sparrow 5

Posted by skwclar 10:45 Archived in USA

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Nice pictures! Mourning Warblers do nest in IL. Not commonly so but they do.

Eric Lundquist/Mundelein, IL

by Eric Lundquist

Next time I go to Morton Arboretum I'm gonna keep my eyes open for an owl! Thanks for all the great pictures.

by Mary Stevens

Beautiful pictures! Cool to see an owl too. Thank you.

by Grace Skoskiewicz

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