A Travellerspoint blog

Kids’ Thatcher Woods Bird Walk

Thatcher Woods, IL

sunny 78 °F

Today, I led a kids’ bird walk for Dominican University’s summer program through Thatcher Woods! I have been leading this for a number of years and it is always a delight to teach kids about birds.

This CHIMNEY SWIFT flew over:
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Female RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER:
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At one point we spotted a House Sparrow nest:
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BLUE JAY with brilliant colors. Oddly enough, I have seldom obtained good photos of this bird in the past.
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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CHIPPING SPARROW:
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Female BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD:
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At some points, we had some raptors fly over such as a COOPER’S and this RED-TAILED HAWK:
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As well as a few TURKEY VULTURES:
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The highlight of the walk was seeing some nesting BARN SWALLOWS at a very close range around the picnic pavilion at the Thatcher Woods play meadow. This will be my bird-of-the-day. The sheer diversity of birds in nature, even during a “slow” season for birders such as June, was inspiring to the kids.
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Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 16:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Morton Arboretum

Lisle, IL

overcast 65 °F

Today, my Dad and I birded the Morton Arboretum in search of four target birds which have all been seen there recently: Yellow-throated & Cerulean Warblers, Summer Tanager, & Blue Grosbeak. I have seen all of these birds in the past at the Arboretum, except for the Cerulean.

As you can see, we quickly found the male YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER who appears to be on territory around Parking Lot 2. Super cool!
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Male EASTERN BLUEBIRD from alongside the road:
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Flyover GREAT EGRET:
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Then, it was off to the Big Rock parking lot where the Summer Tanager has been seen recently. I immediately found this singing YELLOW-THROATED VIREO upon arriving in the lot:
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His colors are more vibrant in this pic:
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Then, I heard a warbling, robin-like song from about one-hundred feet down the road, and sure enough, soon a beautiful, cotton-candy pink-red male SUMMER TANAGER popped into view. Super cool! We are at the northernmost extend of their breeding range here.
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Then, all the way to the other end of the color spectrum with this vibrant male INDIGO BUNTING:
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A male RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD took nectar from some some flowers nearby:
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My camera even caught his gorgeous namesake gorget at one point!
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Then, we hiked down the trail where the Cerulean has been seen and found this female AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
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And sure enough, at the exact spot where it has been reported, this lovely sky-blue male CERULEAN WARBLER was piping away! A rare, rare bird for summer in the Chicagoland area and a GREAT find! This has got to be one of my luckiest years in terms of seeing this species — so cool!
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Three target birds down, one to go! It was off to the Blue Grosbeak spot on the west side of the Arboretum...

We found a first-year male ORCHARD ORIOLE here:
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The wildflower show in Schulenberg Prairie was absolutely spectacular.
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We missed the Grosbeak, but three out of four target birds is pretty darn good, particularly for June! Bird-of-the-day to the Cerulean Warbler with runners-up to the Summer Tanager & Yellow-throated Warbler. GREAT birds! Thanks Dad for birding with me.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 20:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Chicago’s Resident Piping Plovers

Montrose Point, IL

semi-overcast 83 °F

Today, prior to attending my sister’s Chicago Children’s Choir concert at the Copernicus Center, I visited Montrose Point to see the pair of rare Piping Plovers that have decided to nest at the beach there, despite it being one of the busiest beaches in Chicago!

Thankfully, their nest site is well-protected. A perimeter rope with appropriate signage keeps beachgoers out.
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And an enclosure which allows birds to move to and fro, but keeps out predators such as the many Ring-billed Gulls in the area. The male, as I learned from the plover monitors on duty there, was dutifully incubating his eggs:
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I was hoping he would come out from the enclosure for better photos. Meanwhile, some CASPIAN TERNS entertained me:
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As well as a SPOTTED SANDPIPER, one of the nesting pairs in the dunes:
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BARN SWALLOWS:
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Finally, I spotted one of the resident PIPING PLOVER foraging along “Lake Montrose” which is a large puddle that has formed on the beach due to the incredibly wet season so far:
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You can separate the Piping from this common KILLDEER because the Killdeer has two breast bands as opposed to one:
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A storm appeared to be rolling in, so I was soon on the move.
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TREE SWALLOW adult and young:
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Some BANK SWALLOWS flew by:
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Their nest holes were conspicuous on the edge of the sanctuary butting up against the volleyball beach area. Too cool!
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PURPLE MARTIN, the largest swallow species at Montrose:
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CHIMNEY SWIFT — easily confused to be a swallow, but can be separated by even more of a “twittery” (if that’s a word) flight than swallows and relatively long, thin wings hence their name “flying cigar.”
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A great day! So cool that Piping Plovers are nesting within Chicago city limits, therefore, they will of course be my bird-of-the-day.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 21:29 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Last bird walk: Miller Meadow!

Maywood, IL

sunny 69 °F

Today, I led my final bird walk of the season at Miller Meadow Forest Preserve in Maywood, IL. A group of about ten showed up and we had a lovely time.

This SONG SPARROW posed wonderfully for us:
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One of our keen observers, Christine, found this Eastern Garter Snake, nice to spot one of these!
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The group was overjoyed at the sighting of this male EASTERN MEADOWLARK perched in the top of a faraway tree:
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Oxeye Daisies:
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Another decent sighting was this WILLOW FLYCATCHER:
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We also had a few flyover birds, including DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT:
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BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, a great surprise:
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RING-BILLED GULL:
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Some sort of beetle on the trail:
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Male AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
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We ended the walk by sighting a fledgling SONG SPARROW — one of its parents was also sighted nearby, one of many in the preserve this morning.
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It was an enjoyable walk! Bird-of-the-day to the Eastern Meadowlark with runner-up to the Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Oak Park Bird Walks will resume in late summer, starting in August.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 11:43 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Palos Preserves

Cook County, IL

semi-overcast 80 °F

Today, I visited Swallow Cliff Woods with Kim Habel in order to try and re-find the Pine & Kentucky Warblers, as well as other species, which I recently found on my Cook County Big Day.

In the parking lot, we were immediately greeted by vociferous bird song, led by the wheezing sounds of CEDAR WAXWINGS like this one:
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NORTHERN FLICKER:
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HOUSE WREN — a largely under-appreciated bird in my opinion. They have amazing vocal ability!
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WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
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RED-EYED VIREO:
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Male EASTERN TOWHEE:
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My find of the morning was the ACADIAN FLYCATCHER — a very scarce breeder in Cook County; an inhabitant of moist deciduous woodland:
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Alas, despite thorough searching we failed to find either Pine or Kentucky Warblers, but heard-only highlights were VEERY & BROWN CREEPER. So, we continued onto Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center where there was a pair of GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHERS — here is one:
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Male RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD:
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Female YELLOW WARBLER:
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Eastern Painted Turtle:
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GREAT BLUE HERON:
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Bird-of-the-day to the Acadian Flycatcher, with runner-up to the heard-only Veery. Thanks SO MUCH to Kim for driving and birding with me!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:22 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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