A Travellerspoint blog

August 2021

More Chicago-area birding

all seasons in one day 89 °F

This friday I led another walk at Thatcher Woods for a number of Oak Park Bird Walk folks and we saw a really nice number of birds. This RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER started the day off right by the parking lot:
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As well as CEDAR WAXWINGS:
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A brilliant BALTIMORE ORIOLE was wonderful to see:
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As was this male SCARLET TANAGER, mainly molted out of his scarlet plumage but with a few lingering remnants of spring colors:
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YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER:
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On saturday I did a little birding with Tian and Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in DuPage County where I had BELTED KINGFISHER:
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CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER:
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GREAT BLUE HERON:
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There was a second heron perched just on the other side of the creek that allowed for an incredible, long photoshoot. I think this is a young one based on the rusty streaking on the neck.
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On Sunday I led a bird walk at Miller Meadow for Riverside’s Olmsted Society which was slow bird-wise but awesome to bird with mainly a new group of folks. We started off with this male EASTERN BLUEBIRD in harsh lighting conditions:
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RED-TAILED HAWK:
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Bird-of-the-day was this DICKCISSEL which perched high on an exposed branch giving prolonged views. Awesome.
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And today I was just out in the backyard and I heard the screaming of a RED-SHOULDERED HAWK overhead:
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And it turned out to be a pair of Red-shouldered AND a pair of RED-TAILED HAWKS, one of which is pictured here:
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They seemed to even be interacting in the sky. I wonder if these are the birds that nest over in Columbus Park…both species, along with Cooper’s, nest there and frequently roam over here to northeast Oak Park. I suspect it’s a little too early to confidently call these individuals migrants. Here is a Red-shouldered (left) with a Red-tailed (right). Mixed-species raptor interactions are truly fascinating to me.
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Well, I have one last Oak Park Bird Walk tomorrow morning, then I may do a little bit of birding and herping down in the Palos area afterwards, and then wednesday I am off to my junior year in NYC! With the pandemic raging on and a recital coming up, I will probably be doing little birding for the time being — at this point I’m very hesitant to use public transport until the Covid rates go down. So if I do any upcoming birding once I get to the city, expect reports from Riverside Park and maybe Central Park North!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1125 Species

Posted by skwclar 03:41 Archived in USA Comments (2)

A week of Chicago birding

Cook County, IL

all seasons in one day 97 °F

This has been a crazy yet memorable week of birding and preparing for the school year as I am briefly back in Chicago before flying out to NYC this coming wednesday. I have been leading bird walks every other day while here, starting with a monday walk at Thatcher Woods where we began the day right with this roosting TURKEY VULTURE:
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CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER:
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Immature EASTERN BLUEBIRD:
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Female/imm. male AMERICAN REDSTART:
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Tuesday, despite scorching temps in the upper 90’s, I made it to Montrose point while Tian met with a friend she made over the summer. There were goals loafing on the beach including two massive HERRING among the many RING-BILLED GULLS:
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A tiny little SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER was also running between the gull flock:
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A group of four GREAT EGRETS flew over at one point, noteworthy for Montrose:
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I also spotted a COOPER’S HAWK on the prowl:
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WILSON’S WARBLER back in the hedge:
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Wednesday I led a walk at Columbus Park where I started the day off by teaching the group about eclipse-plumage ducks, such as these MALLARDS where for this brief time of year they look much less sexually-dimorphic than usual:
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And this WOOD DUCK:
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On thursday, I guided Kim H to McCormick Bird Sanctuary downtown in search of a Barn Owl. Right after stepping out of the car we saw a DICKCISSEL which was noteworthy for the location:
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And soon we found the expected gaggle of birders who were on the roosting BARN OWL. After about ninety seconds of directions, I finally located the bird tucked very far back in a hackberry tree — Illinois lifer! This owl species is very uncommon this far north in Illinois and seldom seen because it is also extremely hard to find roosting. Kudos to whoever originally found this bird. I soon got Kim on the bird too and she enjoyed this species as a full lifer! Super epic!
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An EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE was also in the area:
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And a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD:
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More Barn Owl shots.
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We then continued on to Jackson Park to find more migrant birds. Here is a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT at the lagoon, panting due to the already hot, humid morning temps:
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The absolute surprise of the day was when Kim pointed out a canary-yellow bird in the bush in front of us and it turned out to be a female-type KENTUCKY WARBLER! This bird is almost as rare as a Barn Owl this time of year, as a quick search on eBird showed only 7 prior records of this species in Cook County from August - December of all recorded years. A super awesome find and identifiable because of its classic gray helmet (it would be black in an adult male bird):
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RED-TAILED HAWK:
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YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER:
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BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
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So, it has been a great week of birding! Bird-of-the-week to the Barn Owl with runner-up to the Kentucky Warbler, both superb finds for the location and time of year. Stay tuned: more bird walks are planned before I leave for college on wednesday.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1125 Species

Posted by skwclar 03:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Idaho Day 11: Hike down Baldy!

Ketchum, ID

semi-overcast 70 °F

FRIDAY, AUGUST 20:

Today, our last day in Idaho, Tian, mom, and I took the gondola up Mt. Baldy and hiked down! Tian was overjoyed as this was her first time on a gondola since years ago in Switzerland! We really lucked out as the smoke cleared today, allowing for great photo ops in front of three mountain ranges: the Smokies, the Boulders, and the Pioneers (with the Boise, Sawtooth, & White Cloud Peaks barely hazily visible in the distance).
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MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS abounded near the summit:
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This WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH was a surprise up here at such a high elevation — they are relatively uncommon in the valley:
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The three of us were absolutely stunned when a family of four DUSKY GROUSE strutted out across the trail right in front of us, clucking all the way. Incredible to get such a close look at this shy species!!
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A quarter of the way down for me, I parted ways with the girls who took the lower gondola back down to the base while I hiked and birded the rest of the way. I was afforded with incredible views of a male TOWNSEND’S WARBLER, an expected treat on my annual hikes down Baldy:
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As well as a WILSON’S:
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CLARK’S NUTCRACKER, very common throughout the hike:
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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Male CASSIN’S FINCH:
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Also surprisingly common throughout were OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS which were super fun to see as they are a declining species:
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I even found a recently-fledged young of this species which was actively begging from its parents:
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NORTHERN FLICKER:
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WESTERN TANAGER:
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Mule Deer:
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Immature CHIPPING SPARROW:
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NASHVILLE WARBLER was really nice to see:
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As was my year-bird DUSKY FLYCATCHER:
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It was a great final hike to yet another absolutely fun-filled trip to Idaho. This was my eleventh August spent in Sun Valley (my parents play in the Summer Symphony out here) and my ninth summer here as a birder. Feel free to browse my previous Idaho trips which can be found easily by clicking on my August 2014-2019 posts here. It sure has been a fun few years and I am looking forward to many more. Of course I can’t end this post without thanking my wonderful friends Kathleen C, Poo W-P, Nubs F, Brian S, and Larry B for helping me find some great wildlife this year and for being just all-around incredible friends. I am lucky to have you all in my life.

Bird-of-the-day goes to the Dusky Grouse family with runners-up to the Townsend’s Warblers and the Dusky Flycatcher which I was beginning to worry about missing this year. Bird-of-the-trip goes to the Burrowing Owl family found with Kathleen, Poo, and Nubs, with runner-up to the Blue Grosbeak family found with Kathleen and Poo. I attached my Idaho 2021 list of birds below, with two asterisks next to Idaho lifers (never seen in the state before this year). I am pretty proud of 140 species and 9 Idaho lifers (including Wood Duck believe it or not!) in just 12 days, considering I didn’t have a car at my disposal!

Now I am back to Chicago until Sept 1 when I will fly to NYC to resume my undergrad studies at the Manhattan School of Music with my junior year! Before that though, I am leading five bird walks here in the Chicago area so stay tuned.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1125 Species

IDAHO 2021 LIST
1. Canada Goose
2. Wood Duck**
3. Blue-winged Teal
4. Cinnamon Teal
5. American Wigeon
6. Mallard
7. Green-winged Teal
8. Redhead
9. Ruddy Duck
10. Dusky Grouse
11. Pied-billed Grebe
12. Western Grebe
13. Feral Pigeon
14. Eurasian Collared-Dove
15. Mourning Dove
16. Common Nighthawk
17. White-throated Swift
18. Black-chinned Hummingbird
19. Calliope Hummingbird
20. Rufous Hummingbird
21. Virginia Rail
22. American Coot
23. Sandhill Crane
24. Killdeer
25. Baird’s Sandpiper
26. Pectoral Sandpiper**
27. Western Sandpiper
28. Wilson’s Snipe
29. Spotted Sandpiper
30. Wilson’s Phalarope
31. Ring-billed Gull
32. California Gull
33. Caspian Tern
34. Common Tern**
35. Forster’s Tern**
36. Double-crested Cormorant
37. American White Pelican
38. Great Blue Heron
39. Snowy Egret**
40. White-faced Ibis
41. Turkey Vulture
42. Osprey
43. Golden Eagle
44. Northern Harrier
45. Cooper’s Hawk
46. Northern Goshawk
47. Bald Eagle
48. Swainson’s Hawk
49. Red-tailed Hawk
50. Ferruginous Hawk
51. Burrowing Owl**
52. Belted Kingfisher
53. Lewis’ Woodpecker
54. Red-naped Sapsucker
55. Downy Woodpecker
56. Hairy Woodpecker
57. Northern Flicker
58. American Kestrel
59. Prairie Falcon
60. Western Kingbird
61. Eastern Kingbird
62. Olive-sided Flycatcher
63. Western Wood-Pewee
64. Willow Flycatcher
65. Hammond’s Flycatcher
66. Gray Flycatcher
67. Dusky Flycatcher
68. Loggerhead Shrike
69. Cassin’s Vireo
70. Warbling Vireo
71. Gray Jay
72. Steller’s Jay
73. Clark’s Nutcracker
74. Black-billed Magpie
75. American Crow
76. Common Raven
77. Horned Lark
78. Bank Swallow
79. Tree Swallow
80. Violet-green Swallow
81. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
82. Barn Swallow
83. Cliff Swallow
84. Black-capped Chickadee
85. Mountain Chickadee
86. Bushtit
87. Red-breasted Nuthatch
88. White-breasted Nuthatch
89. Brown Creeper
90. Rock Wren
91. Canyon Wren
92. House Wren
93. Marsh Wren
94. Bewick’s Wren**
95. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
96. American Dipper
97. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
98. Mountain Bluebird
99. Swainson’s Thrush
100. Hermit Thrush
101. American Robin
102. Gray Catbird
103. Sage Thrasher
104. European Starling
105. Cedar Waxwing
106. House Sparrow
107. Evening Grosbeak**
108. House Finch
109. Cassin’s Finch
110. Red Crossbill
111. Pine Siskin
112. Lesser Goldfinch
113. American Goldfinch
114. Yellow-breasted Chat
115. Yellow-headed Blackbird
116. Western Meadowlark
117. Bullock’s Oriole
118. Red-winged Blackbird
119. Brown-headed Cowbird
120. Brewer’s Blackbird
121. Nashville Warbler
122. MacGillivray’s Warbler
123. Common Yellowthroat
124. Yellow Warbler
125. Yellow-rumped Warbler
126. Townsend’s Warbler
127. Wilson’s Warbler
128. Western Tanager
129. Black-headed Grosbeak
130. Blue Grosbeak**
131. Lazuli Bunting
132. Lark Sparrow
133. Chipping Sparrow
134. Brewer’s Sparrow
135. Dark-eyed Junco
136. White-crowned Sparrow
137. Vesper Sparrow
138. Song Sparrow
139. Green-tailed Towhee
140. Spotted Towhee

Posted by skwclar 01:20 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Idaho Day 10: Warm Springs Trail Birding

Bald Mountain, ID

overcast 59 °F

THURSDAY, AUGUST 19:

This morning I birded part way up the Warm Springs trail that goes up the north face of Bald Mountain in Ketchum ID. Several birds were present in the riparian area next to Warm Springs Creek at the base of the trail including these LAZULI BUNTINGS:
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WESTERN TANAGER:
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WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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A really nice sighting for the local area was a pair of flyover RED CROSSBILLS calling “chit chit chit!”
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CLARK’S NUTCRACKERS abounded along the trail today:
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And a new sighting for this area for me was this EASTERN KINGBIRD!
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It was nice to get out! Bird-of-the-day to the Red Crossbills with runner-up to the Clark’s Nutcrackers. Depending on the smoke situation tomorrow (it has recently been pretty thick due to the Dixie & other Californian fires), we may get a chance to hike the whole way down Bald Mountain tomorrow. Then, in the evening, we all fly home to Chicago!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1125 Species

Posted by skwclar 06:16 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Idaho Day 9: Herping and birding

Wood River Valley, ID

semi-overcast 70 °F

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18:

Today, I met with fellow birders & herpers (and extremely-knowledgeable all-around biologists) Brian S and Larry B to try to track down some herps in the Sun Valley area in the morning. Then, in the afternoon, after lunch with Tian, she and I would meet up with Kathleen and Poo for an afternoon of birding.

Brian, Larry and I started in a canyon offshoot off the Wood River Valley to look for birds, and for Great Basin Rattlesnakes which inhabit the region. I had never before seen a Rattlesnake so my hopes were high! This was the view for the morning’s scramble up the sides of this drainage:
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At one point, Brian spotted this DUSKY GROUSE a half-mile away!
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Well, we did manage to hear a Rattlesnake rattle for a number of seconds, but unfortunately we could never lay eyes on it. We guessed it was hiding deep in a crack in the rocks since it was a cool morning. Strange since they usually only rattle when you’re extremely close to them, and we searched all around us.

On the way out I got my year-bird LEWIS’ WOODPECKER!
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Then, we continued to a nearby trail where the two of them told me we had a chance for Horned Lizards which would a lifer for me. Sure enough, after a bit of hiking, a spotted tiny yearling scurrying across the trail so I scooped it up for photos!
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Here you can its impressive camouflage against the sandy rock:
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After herping, we tried a spot for Veery alongside the Big Wood River and came up empty but did find a CASSIN’S VIREO:
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Then, after lunch with Tian, she and I bussed to Kathleen’s house where there were a good number of birds moving around. PINE SISKIN:
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Female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD:
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Poo soon arrived so the four of us headed down to Silver Creek Preserve to try for a Northern Waterthrush that had been reported there yesterday. Well, we found this WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW acting like a Waterthrush!
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Male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD:
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BALD EAGLE:
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WILSON’S WARBLER:
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OSPREY:
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This adorable MARSH WREN decided to take a dust bath in the road just in front of us!
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SPOTTED SANDPIPER:
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Immature VESPER SPARROW:
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EASTERN KINGBIRDS:
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CINNAMON TEAL:
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We were quite surprised to find this BAIRD’S SANDPIPER, an uncommon species for Silver Creek, feeding on the mat of algae at Silver Creek!
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WILLOW FLYCATCHER:
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A cute SONG SPARROW missing its tail!
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Unfortunately, we missed the Northern Waterthrush, so we continued on to Croy Creek Wetlands just west of Hailey. As usual, CEDAR WAXWINGS were giving great views at the wetland observation area:
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BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD:
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WARBLING VIREO:
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WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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Then, we headed over to Poo’s neighborhood for one last chance at Evening Grosbeaks which would be an Idaho lifer for me. Here is a RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER:
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And as soon as we opened the car doors at Poo’s house, I heard the harsh trilling calls of EVENING GROSBEAKS in the trees just across the street! Wow! An incredible Idaho life bird as they are quite nomadic but have taken to nesting in the Wood River Valley this summer. Here is a male perched in a tree:
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And a pair:
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Then, we crept around the side of Poo’s house and found a couple of immature birds, proving nesting in the area! Awesome!
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It was so wonderful to bird one last time with Kathleen and Poo before I leave friday. They are some of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met and it is such a blast to bird with them. Till next year!

Bird-of-the-day to the Evening Grosbeaks with runners-up to the Dusky Grouse and the Lewis’ Woodpecker.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1125 Species*

  • I lost one life bird due to the recent revision to the Clement’s checklist which just lumped the Crested Caracara I saw in Florida and the Southern Caracara I saw in Argentina into one species: Crested Caracara.

Posted by skwclar 19:30 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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