A Travellerspoint blog

AM neighborhood birding & PM rarity chase!

Illinois & Wisconsin

overcast 45 °F

I woke up early this morning to bird the neighborhood, and after school I had planned to chase a shorebird called a Ruff which had shown up in southern Wisconsin yesterday.

Migrants were evident in the neighborhood including BROWN CREEPER:


Warblers were also present, with YELLOW-RUMPED of course leading the pack. Around mid-may, the most common warbler in the neighborhood will shift over to be American Redstart, a late-season specialty.

My favorite bird while out this morning was a nice ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, my first of the year, and my fifth warbler species here in Illinois this year (my updated warbler list for this spring is attached below). This was one species I was beginning to get a bit concerned about missing since it tends to be a bit of an earlier migrant warbler, so I was more than happy to pick it up within a block of home. As I’ve said in the past, the mature elms and oaks in my neighborhood have a great tendency to attract migrants!

DARK-EYED JUNCOS are still around. Here is a female:

And another highlight from this morning was seeing five woodpecker species, a respectable total for Oak Park! DOWNY, the expected resident species:

A quick glimpse of its look-alike the HAIRY:

A bit of a better, albeit still-obstructed look at the RED-BELLIED:

And this female/first-year YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER afforded me great views:

And the fifth species, and probably the hardest of the five to see in my neighborhood, NORTHERN FLICKER. The only other woodpecker I have observed in the neighborhood is Red-headed which is an exceptionally rare occurrence on a local scale.

COOPER’S HAWKS were evident today with two migranting individuals:

And a nice adult female perching above the 800 block of Fair Oaks Ave. I also found a large nest in the tree in which she was perched and I suspect it is an active Cooper’s nest as, in recent years, they have had a nice population boom in Oak Park. This used to be a state-endangered species, and now I see them everyday!

Taylor Park brought the usual suspects such as this BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD with an AMERICAN ROBIN, which happens to be a victim species of cowbird parasitism. Too bad!

The Fen had the usual bachelor MALLARD — hope a female finds him like most years!

SWAMP SPARROW was also a nice sight there, proving even a tiny wetland can provide necessary stopover habitat for birds. Wetlands are super important!!

This WHITE-THROATED SPARROW gave great views:

Closer to home I spied this stunning male PINE WARBLER. So, I didn’t have to make a separate trip for this species after all! Well, it’s fine with me — this is not a bird I get in the neighborhood every year.

And when I got back to the backyard, a beautiful male HOUSE FINCH was there to greet me. Nice way to wrap up a productive walk!

So, as of this morning, here is the updated spring 2020 warbler list:

1. Ovenbird
2. Louisiana Waterthrush: DuPage County, April 4
3. Northern Waterhthrush
4. Golden-winged Warbler
5. Blue-winged Warbler
6. Black-and-White Warbler
7. Prothonotary Warbler
8. Tennessee Warbler
9. Orange-crowned Warbler: Oak Park alley, April 24
10. Nashville Warbler
11. Connecticut Warbler
12. Mourning Warbler
13. Kentucky Warbler
14. Common Yellowthroat
15. Hooded Warbler
16. American Redstart
17. Cape May Warbler
18. Cerulean Warbler
19. Northern Parula
20. Magnolia Warbler
21. Bay-breasted Warbler
22. Blackburnian Warbler
23. Yellow Warbler
24. Chestnut-sided Warbler
25. Blackpoll Warbler
26. Black-throated Blue Warbler
27. Palm Warbler
28. Pine Warbler: Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, April 18
29. Yellow-rumped Warbler: Thatcher Woods, April 4
30. Yellow-throated Warbler
31. Townsend’s Warbler BONUS RARITY: Deer Grove Forest Preserve, April 17
32. Black-throated Green Warbler
33. Canada Warbler
34. Wilson’s Warbler

So, this afternoon I was off the Walworth, Wisconsin (just across the border from Harvard, IL) in search of a Ruff which had been seen there yesterday and this morning. The Ruff is a Eurasian vagrant species that is one of the more “regular” Eurasian vagrants and definitely one of the “fanciest” shorebirds — male birds such as the one I chased today sport brilliantly red legs and a striking black plumage, rather atypical for usually drab-colored shorebirds. So, after online classes (the new reality) ended today, I arrived to the appointed flooded farmer’s field around 4pm and started searching.

Well, it didn’t take much “searching” before I spotted by life bird RUFF! Hooray! It was in a flooded farmer’s field right next to the side of a Wisconsin state road in the middle of nowhere (southwest of Lake Geneva). Plenty of (socially-distant) birders were also there, photographing this beast of a shorebird, of which nothing of its likes I have ever seen before. These European vagrants also come in many different colors, with male’s plumages ranging from a brilliant white to the beautiful black and red shades seen on this bird. Absolutely incredible, and at times I was photographing it from just twelve feet away. Wow!

Of course, other birds were present too, most comically in the form of these domestic barnyard geese which had wondered over from the farm across the street. Too funny!

Passerine migration was even notable in the relatively barre habitat out there. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:

This is what the shorebird “fluddle” looked like (flooded puddle). Birder’s Heaven!

I counted at least 88 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS at the fluddle.

Both yellowlegs were present; here is a LESSER:


As were WILSON’S SNIPE. What a bill!




One nice treat was another Eurasian speciality, but this time an introduced species, the EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE! I had seen these come up in the area on the Walsworth Rare Bird Alert so I was also hoping to see one on this twitch and was not disappointed.

And boy, was it farmland up there!

One last look at the amazing fluddle before I had to make the long trip back home.

WHAT a day! AMAZING! Bird-of-the-day to the life bird Ruff, with runner-up to the Eurasian Collared-Dove. That Ruff was one of the most memorable avian encounters I have ever had.

Good birding,
World Life List: 1114 species (1 life bird today: Ruff)

Posted by skwclar 10:29 Archived in USA

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I think these photos of the Ruff are really outstanding, you captured so many postures and so sharply! Congrats!

by Susan Subak

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