A Travellerspoint blog

Columbus Park & GAR Woods

Cook County, IL

semi-overcast 55 °F

Today I wanted to cover places other than Thatcher Woods or Miller Meadow so I first headed to Columbus Park to see if I could catch up with the adult Red-shouldered Hawk this time (I saw the first-year bird last time).

There was an abundance of birds. A good number of gorgeous GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS were busy feeding and emitting their high-pitched “see, see, see” calls. Look at that crown!


Many sparrows were around, dominated by SONG:

One BROWN CREEPER gave me great views:

Then, I saw a hawk glide in from the west and although I was hoping for it to be my target Red-shouldered, it turned out to be an adult COOPER’S. I should have known — all the songbirds scattered. (Cooper’s mainly prey on birds while Red-shouldered prey on rodents)

GREAT BLUE HERON showing off its beautiful feathers at the Lagoon:

As well as several brilliantly-clad WOOD DUCKS:

This dumpy-looking SWAMP SPARROW in the small grassy “bird sanctuary” was a nice addition, my first of the year I believe:

Then, I heard it — “kreeah kreeah kreeah!” and in came the adult RED-SHOULDERED HAWK across the Lagoon from where I was. Awesome! They have a nest in the Center Woods in the park and it is the only place in Chicago proper where they nest.

After a successful visit to Columbus Park, I decided to head over to GAR Woods which is across the Metra train tracks from Thatcher Woods and also along the (mightily flooded) Des Plaines River. Maybe I would catch up with a Carolina Wren, Rusty Blackbird, or other early migrants in the area. There were migrants around, including several obliging EASTERN PHOEBES:

FOX SPARROW has to be the bird-of-the-week for me. These are not particularly common but they are somewhat uncommon and beautiful enough to make you say “wow!” every time you see one. Definitely not a trash bird by any means.

Like last week at Thatcher, I heard but failed to see the CAROLINA WREN just south of the train bridge over the river. Dang!

I had four woodpecker species there including HAIRY and its smaller, suburban cousin the DOWNY:

DARK-EYED JUNCOS are moving through. I am noticing an uptick in female juncos (like this one), which means that within a few weeks they will have left altogether and be replaced by Chipping Sparrows. Competition is a no-go; every single bird has a specific niche to fill!

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH in classic “nuthatch pose”

Stunning Yellow-shafted NORTHERN FLICKER:

Then, as I was traipsing through the woods and back to the car, I scared up a blackbird which turned out to be an absolutely stunning RUSTY BLACKBIRD. The bird even sang for me long enough to get a voice memo of its song. Too cool!!! I’ve been hoping to come across one of these birds before they leave for more northerly points, so I was overjoyed to find this beautiful specimen.

White-tailed Deer are always nice...

...but a buck with a beautiful rack is an even nicer sight in my opinion!

Bird-of-the-day to the Rusty Blackbird with runner-up to the Red-shouldered Hawk. Good stuff today!

Good birding,
World Life List: 1111 Species

Posted by skwclar 15:52 Archived in USA

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


What a nice day Henry! Song sparrows out there sure look different than our dark ones!
Had a rough-winged swallow yesterday, cranes are back. And had a 6.5 earthquake 2 days ago, wild to watch our log walls moving! Centered NW of Stanley.
Be well!

by Poo

Comment with:

Comments left using a name and email address are moderated by the blog owner before showing.

Not published. Required
Leave this field empty

Characters remaining: