Yesterday (Friday, June 18) I birded with Jill Anderson in the morning in the southeast side of Chicgo to find a rarity Western Kingbird and then I met Nick Minor, a rising freshman in college who showed me around the Field Museum's absolutely breathtaking avian collection.
Jill and I drove to a place called Steelworkers Park on the southeast side of Chicago to find a Western Kingbird that has been recently seen in the area as well as a few other interesting birds that have been there as well. The Western Kingbird is a robin-sized bird in the flycatcher family that has a beautiful yellow belly and is native to the western regions of North America and Central America (in the winter), and therefore qualifies as a vagrant here in Illinois.
We arrived around 9:30am and quickly found these NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS:
We also heard but did not see a GRASSHOPPER SPARROW, another one of our targets for the day, in approxiamately the same location as the above Field Sparrow. This NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was yet another target bird we nailed down:
Another secondary target bird, a BELL'S VIREO, was a heard-only species (but countable nevertheless), but after 2.5 hours of searching, we struck out on the elusive kingbird. We then drove up Lakeshore Drive to 63rd Street Beach where we admired a colony of nesting CLIFF SWALLOWS, and then the wooded island of Jackson Park where I found this BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON in a tree but failed to find any of the desired Monk Parakeets that have established a feral (but countable) population there.
Shortly before 1:00pm, Jill dropped me off at the Field Museum. Thanks for driving, it was a great morning of birding with you, Jill!
I then met a very friendly and extremely knowledgable guy, Nick Minor, who showed me around the Field Museum's awe-inspiring bird collection. Here is Nick's fantastic blog, the Science of Birds: http://scienceofbirds.blogspot.com
Also, this fall when he starts college I will actually be taking over his blog devoted to forecasting Illinois nocturnal bird migration, "Arrivals and Influxes,"
Anyway, the bird collection, as I already stated, was FANTASTIC! 9/10ths of the world's bird species (that's right, over 9,000 species!) are housed in the Field Museum. I could spend days in that place, but considering we only had an hour and a half or so, he showed me the "best of" plus a few of my requests.
This is a Blue Cotinga, a bird I saw from afar in Panama in the fall of 2013!
Here is a link to the blog post where I photographed this species (3rd photo down): http://worldbirding.travellerspoint.com/13/
This is a comparison of a Pileated Woodpeker (top) and its EXTINCT (!!!), larger cousin the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (bottom):
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker once lived in wooded swamps of the southeastern USA and Cuba:
Another EXTINCT species, a Carolina Parakeet, the most northerly naturally ranging parakeet known, which was found as far north as Illinois & Wisconsin:
This parakeet lived in mature riparian forests throughout the majority of the eastern USA.
A pair of a beautiful birds with an even better name: Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, found in the Andes of South America:
Then, Nick showed me the birds of paradise, possibly the most beautiful birds in the world, native to New Guinea and select parts of Australia:
This is a Kori Bustard, the largest surviving flying bird, native to parts of Africa. My foot is next to it for comparison. WOW!
Bottom: Andean Condor, one of the largest raptors in the world, and native to the Andes of South America. Top: Wandering Albatross, the bird with the largest wingspan in the world. I got 4 feet away from these majestic albatross on a pelagic trip off of the coast of New Zealand in 2014.
You can see the post here (you have to scroll down in the post): http://worldbirding.travellerspoint.com/68/
There were just shelves upon shelves of beautiful birds taking up nearly an entire upper floor of the museum. This is an especially stunning shelf of different kinds of tanagers from Central and South America:
This is a Resplendent Quetzal, an astoundingly beautiful bird that I missed in Panama in 2013 but hope to find this summer in Costa Rica. Note the amazing iridescent green and the extremely long secondary (not tail!) feathers:
Next, Nick showed me an entire shelf full of my other "nemesis bird," the Great Gray Owl, a species I have looked for too many times to count. Despite being the largest owl in North America, these looked tiny after seeing the bustards and albatross earlier:
Then, he showed me a shelf full of my second favorite bird species, the Cerulean Warbler. All of the songbirds in the collections are turned on their backs to preserve them better, so you see the underside of these birds. Males have white undersides with a blue breast band while females are yellowish underneath.
Then, he showed me a shelf full of my FAVORITE bird species, the Hooded Warbler! The males have the dark markings on their throat while the females lack them.
Here is my blog post from earlier this year featuring photographs I took of both of my favorite bird species from the same day (again, you will have to scroll down in the post): http://worldbirding.travellerspoint.com/275/
This picture of the main corridor through the bird collection does not even do it justice to how expansive it really is:
Nick informed me that some of these birds are shot specimens from times before the non-game bird laws came into place, while others are mainly victims of window crashes. It was extremely interesting to see the collection of my favorite and nemesis birds as well as extinct and downright breathtaking birds, as well. Thanks, Nick!
Tomorrow I will be leading two kids bird walks in the morning which I will probably post about, and then in the afternoon I will be flying with my choir to New York City for our 9-day-long tour to the East Coast! I will make a rare non-birding post about the tour after I get back from it, as well.
Bird-of-the-day yesterday to the NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and runners-up to the BELL'S VIREO & GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. Honorable mention to Resplendent Quetzal, Great Gray Owl, Cerulean & Hooded Warblers, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Carolina Parakeet, Kori Bustard, Andean Condor, and Wandering Albatross! Whew!
World Life List: 754 Species (no life birds recently)