A Travellerspoint blog

Fallout: 90 species, 20 warblers, & a life bird!

Cook County, IL

rain 47 °F

Today, the floodgates finally opened.

Last night, for the first time in a great while, southwesterly winds dominated, which in mid May means only one thing: MIGRATION!!! So, I headed to Jackson Park on the south side to hopefully add a few new species to my year list! BALTIMORE ORIOLES proliferated with at least 25 in the park! It was evident that birds were in an absolutely stunning abundance this morning and I! Was! There! For! It!

First ORCHARD ORIOLE of the year too:



And of course, the warblers. I had twenty warbler species today with the bulk of them first picked up at Jackson Park. Here is a male MAGNOLIA:



BLACKPOLL, my first of the year!

Then, I walked over from Wooded Island (where the bulk of the migrant passerines tend to gather) to Lake Shore Drive where I scoped out the beach and unfortunately came up empty in the shorebird department. There was, though, a great gathering of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS offshore with a few RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS:

And many swallows, including CLIFF:


WARBLING VIREO. Nearly forty of these guys all over the park today.



Female/juvenile type ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK:



Another highlight of the birding today was getting a “thrush slam:” I saw every expected Illinois thrush species! This is a rare occurrence as usually the Hermits are gone by the time to Veeries and Gray-cheeked show up. Here is a VEERY:

WOOD THRUSH, note the heavier breast spotting:

GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH, note the lack of an eye ring:

SWAINSON’S THRUSH, note the presence of the eye ring:

And the final thrush to complete the slam, a female EASTERN BLUEBIRD!

And the warblers just kept flowing in. I was stoked to see my first CAPE MAY of the year:


YELLOW. Probably fifty of these guys seen today.

The always-stunning BLACKBURNIAN:



More mergansers in the harbor.

And one of the highlights of Jackson Park was first hearing, and then tracking down this CLAY-COLORED SPARROW — a bird I have only seen a handful of times before. Amazing!!!

And its relative the LINCON’S:

Upon hearing of another LeConte’s Sparrow seen at Gillson Park in Wilmette, I had to rush up north to try to track down this would-be life bird on which I have so far struck out multiple times this spring. As the other birders told me, there were many MARSH WRENS in the area I ended up searching for the sparrow.

Then, I saw a small, orangey, spiny-tailed sparrow flop up and then almost immediately down in the dune grass ahead of me. What?!?! Could it be...

After a bit of persistence, it teed up on a nearby tree and I had it confirmed — I had tracked down my first-ever LECONTE’S SPARROW!!!!! An incredibly tough bird to find, and I was even more blessed to have the chance to photograph this individual so well. Most don’t sit up this obligingly, constantly simply disappearing into dunes & prairie grasses like this one did at first — as I have said, all it takes is persistence...my new favorite sparrow!

This is my sketch of the life bird.

Next stop: LaBagh Woods on the way home. I had never birded this preserve before, but in recent years it has gained considerable fame for finding migrant warblers and I wanted to see what I could do with the time I had before I got rained out.

And warblers there were...SO MANY! At one point, I was “spishing” and I swear to you, about forty warblers were gathered, checking me out from the oak tree above. INCREDIBLE! The flock included: BLACK-THROATED GREEN

CHESTNUT-SIDED, another first of the year bird for me:

And this anamoly, a rarity called a “Brewster’s Warbler.” This is an oddball bird since it is not technically countable; it is a backcross hybrid between a Blue-winged X Golden-winged Warbler, and this is not an easy bird to find, by any means. SO AWESOME!


And incredibly, yet another FOY species: a stunning male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER! There were even four of them at one point — just wow, I was speechless.

Here is the updated spring 2020 warbler list with all of my new additions from today:

Spring 2020 warbler list: 28/35 so far

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

And the surprise of the day came when an off-yellow, tan-colored warbler with stripes on the head came into view in the canopy, sticking its bill into the budding leaves like it is known to do: WORM-EATING WARBLER! A self-found Cook County rarity!!! So FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!! On top of an already excellent day, to find something like this?! Jeez. Unfortunately it was moving fast very high in the thick canopy so it only allowed for this crappy shot; however, the stripes on its head are still slightly discernible if you look very closely.

What a DAY! Bird-of-the-day to the life bird LeConte’s Sparrow and runner-up to the Worm-eating Warbler. The full list for the day is included below. Stay tuned: we have officially entered peak migration time here in Chicago and any day could bring some great finds. Tomorrow, I will stick closer to home in the morning to see what I can find, but of course if anything rare shows up, you know I will be out in the field, giving the good chase!

World Life List: 1115 Species (1 life bird today: LeConte’s Sparrow)

1. Canada Goose
2. Wood Duck
3. Blue-winged Teal
4. Mallard
5. Red-breasted Merganser
6. Rock Pigeon
7. Mourning Dove
8. Chimney Swift
9. Killdeer
10. Ring-billed Gull
11. Caspian Tern
12. Forster’s Tern
13. Double-crested Cormorant
14. Great Blue Heron
15. Green Heron
16. Black-crowned Night-Heron
17. Turkey Vulture
18. Cooper’s Hawk
19. Downy Woodpecker
20. Hairy Woodpecker
21. Northern Flicker
22. American Kestrel
23. Least Flycatcher
24. Warbling Vireo
25. Blue Jay
26. American Crow
27. Tree Swallow
28. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
29. Bank Swallow
30. Cliff Swallow
31. Barn Swallow
32. Black-capped Chickadee
33. White-breasted Nuthatch
34. Brown Creeper
35. House Wren
36. Marsh Wren
37. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
38. Golden-crowned Kinglet
39. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
40. Eastern Bluebird
41. Veery
42. Gray-cheeked Thrush
43. Swainson’s Thrush
44. Hermit Thrush
45. Wood Thrush
46. American Robin
47. Gray Catbird
48. European Starling
49. House Sparrow
50. House Finch
51. American Goldfinch
52. Orchard Oriole
53. Baltimore Oriole
54. Red-winged Blackbird
55. Brown-headed Cowbird
56. Grackle
57. Ovenbird
58. Worm-eating Warbler
59. Northern Waterthrush
60. Blue-winged Warbler
61. Black-and-White Warbler
62. Orange-crowned Warbler
63. Nashville Warbler
64. Common Yellowthroat
65. American Redstart
66. Cape May Warbler
67. Northern Parula
68. Magnolia Warbler
69. Blackburnian Warbler
70. Yellow Warbler
71. Chestnut-sided Warbler
72. Blackpoll Warbler
73. Black-throated Blue Warbler
74. Palm Warbler
75. Yellow-rumped Warbler
76. Black-throated Green Warbler
77. Northern Cardinal
78. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
79. Indigo Bunting
80. Eastern Towhee
81. Chipping Sparrow
82. Clay-colored Sparrow
83. Field Sparrow
84. Savanah Sparrow
85. LeConte’s Sparrow
86. Song Sparrow
87. Lincoln’s Sparrow
88. Swamp Sparrow
89. White-throated Sparrow
90. White-crowned Sparrow

Posted by skwclar 20:27 Archived in USA

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How did you enter Jackson Park? I thought the Chicago lakefront parks were closed or is still ok to walk in the park?

by Susan

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