A Travellerspoint blog

Indiana Day 3: Cowles Bog!

Indiana Dunes, IN

rain 51 °F

Today was my third day touring the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival with Kim Habel and Susie Nies, and it was simply exhilarating!

This morning, we walked through Cowles Bog which is one of the region’s premier birding hotspots for songbird migrants & wetland breeding birds. The day started off with a flyover GREEN HERON, our first of the trip:
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Warblers were DRIPPING off of the trees this morning, and we all agreed there had been a mini-fallout due to the southwest wind last night which were interrupted by a line of thunderstorms and stalled out the migrating passerines. We knew it would be good when the first warbler over the parking lot was a male BLACKBURNIAN:
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And then a female PROTHONOTARY WARBLER?! Crazy!
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Male YELLOW WARBLER:
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Male BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLERS:
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Male BAY-BREASTED WARBLER, an absolute stunner and one of my favorites:
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PHILADELPHIA VIREO, a really nice migrant species!
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Male MAGNOLIA WARBLER. There were probably over three dozen of these this morning:
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Male GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER — we found three of this uncommon bird today!
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Male CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, a common one this morning:
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OVENBIRD:
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RED-EYED VIREO:
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Male SCARLET TANAGER, another species with multiple representatives this morning:
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Male BLACKPOLL WARBLER:
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PALM WARBLER:
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We all ran up the side of a shrubby hill when our guide called us over for a CONNECTICUT WARBLER! Unfortunately, I never saw the bird, but I did hear it sing once — counts as positive identification, and for a shy and uncommon bird!

Male NASHVILLE WARBLER, the Connecticut’s tree-top lookalike:
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TENNESSEE WARBLER, another one of the most common species this morning. Almost every other bird fluttering in the treetops was a Tennessee.
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Male NORTHERN PARULA:
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Male CANADA WARBLER, a real crowd pleaser which we saw a couple times throughout the morning:
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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Getting-late RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
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Horrible look at a male BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER that our guide noticed to be possibly mobbing something in a far-off tree.
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We then followed the guide in case the bird the warbler was mobbing was interesting, and interesting it was — a roosting EASTERN SCREECH-OWL!! Too cool!!!
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It was a great bird walk, and our guide generously offered to take us birding along the road paralleling the marshy part of Cowles Bog. There were many singing SWAMP SPARROWS including this uncooperative individual:
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Two SORAS, including this individual, quickly darted in front of us and out of view into the reeds:
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Then, we heard the grunting of a male VIRGINIA RAIL and were soon afforded an incredible (albeit short) view of this beautiful bird.
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What a great morning of birding! Later in the afternoon, a male RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD graced us with his presence at Kim’s hummingbird feeders:
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Some birding outside the visitor center at the state park yielded common species such as GRAY CATBIRD:
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Male AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
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Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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Then, we headed into the State Park to search for the nesting Prothonotary Warblers along Trail 8. A male RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER greeted us:

Our second PHILADELPHIA VIREO of the day was a great find!
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And after a bit of waiting, out patience paid off as the male PROTHONOTARY WARBLER sat up and preened for us — fabulous!
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Bird-of-the-day to the Eastern Screech Owl, runners-up to the Philadelphia Vireo & Golden-winged Warbler for showing nicely multiple times together, and honorable mention to the Connecticut & Prothonotary Warblers as well as the Virginia Rail. Much to choose from today! The full list, 80 species including 22 (!) warblers, from the day is included below. Stay tuned — the “Dunes Big Morning” is tomorrow and should be amazing!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

1. Canada Goose
2. Wood Duck
3. Rock Pigeon
4. Mourning Dove
5. Chimney Swift
6. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
7. Virginia Rail
8. Sora
9. Sandhill Crane
10. Ring-billed Gull
11. Great Blue Heron
12. Great Egret
13. Green Heron
14. Cooper’s Hawk
15. Red-tailed Hawk
16. Eastern Screech-Owl
17. Red-bellied Woodpecker
18. Downy Woodpecker
19. Hairy Woodpecker
20. Northern Flicker
21. Great Crested Flycatcher
22. Eastern Wood-Pewee
23. Eastern Kingbird
24. Acadian Flycatcher
25. Willow Flycatcher
26. Least Flycatcher
27. Yellow-throated Vireo
28. Philadelphia Vireo
29. Red-eyed Vireo
30. Blue Jay
31. American Crow
32. Tree Swallow
33. Black-capped Chickadee
34. Red-breasted Nuthatch
35. White-breasted Nuthatch
36. House Wren
37. Marsh Wren
38. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
39. Veery
40. Swainson’s Thrush
41. American Robin
42. Gray Catbird
43. European Starling
44. House Sparrow
45. House Finch
46. American Goldfinch
47. Eastern Towhee
48. Field Sparrow
49. Song Sparrow
50. Swamp Sparrow
51. White-throated Sparrow
52. Red-winged Blackbird
53. Brown-headed Cowbird
54. Common Grackle
55. Ovenbird — 1
56. Northern Waterthrush — 2
57. Golden-winged Warbler — 3
58. Black-and-White Warbler — 4
59. Prothonotary Warbler — 5
60. Tennessee Warbler — 6
61. Nashville Warbler — 7
62. Connecticut Warbler — 8
63. Common Yellowthroat — 9
64. Hooded Warbler — 10
65. American Redstart — 11
66. Northern Parula — 12
67. Magnolia Warbler — 13
68. Bay-breasted Warbler — 14
69. Yellow Warbler — 15
70. Chestnut-sided Warbler — 16
71. Blackpoll Warbler — 17
72. Black-throated Blue Warbler — 18
73. Palm Warbler — 19
74. Yellow Warbler — 20
75. Black-throated Green Warbler — 21
76. Canada Warbler — 22
77. Scarlet Tanager
78. Northern Cardinal
79. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
80. Indigo Bunting

Posted by skwclar 18:43 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Indiana Day 2: Dupont

IN, USA

all seasons in one day 72 °F

Today was my second day touring the Indiana Dunes Bird Festival with Kim Habel & Susie Nies. In the morning we took a guided tour to Dupont Natural Area which is unique because this preserve is owned by private property & closed to the public. It contains possibly one of the greatest strongholds of breeding wetland birds in Indiana, and that was stunningly obvious this morning.

As you can see, the morning started off well with a close view of an elusive VIRGINIA RAIL:
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Then, I shouted “LEAST BITTERN!” as one flew across the waterway in front of us, but unfortunately it dropped into the reeds and wasn’t relocated.

The tour group walked through the swale & hemimarsh habitat carpreting the preserve, where we found a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, one of many:
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And then the guide pointed to a far-off AMERICAN BITTERN flying away from us — this is their last breeding stronghold in Indiana, so it was super cool to see not only this individual but three of these!
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First-year male ORCHARD ORIOLE; after their first year, they turn to a beautiful dark crimson color:
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Then this guy found and caught an Eastern Garter Snake, one of two seen this morning:
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I got a chance to hold it, the first time I have held a snake since I caught Northern water snakes as a little boy in Michigan.
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Female SCARLET TANAGER:
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Male EASTERN BLUEBIRD:
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SORA, another fun wetland species to find and photograph:
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GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER:
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BLUE-WINGED TEAL — Dupont is also the only place in Indiana where these guys reliably breed, I believe:
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SANDHILL CRANE adult and juvenile, hopefully without plans to anchor or dredge:
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Our guide pointed out this beautiful wildflower that apparently grows only in undisturbed soils, which is the other cool thing about Dupont. The landscape in the preserved section of the property was never developed, so (apart from frequent controlled burns) it has not been altered from its completely natural state.
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Female BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER:
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Then, somebody pointed out a nightjar roosting in a tree beside the trail and it turned out to be an EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL, awesome to get this good of looks after observing this species in action last night:
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SWAINSON’S THRUSH:
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FIELD SPARROW:
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This male BLACKPOLL WARBLER gave the group pretty nice views!
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GREAT EGRET:
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Indiana Paintbrush, another Indiana-rare flower relegated to the northwest corner of the state:
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GREAT BLUE HERON:
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After the tour of Dupont, Kim, Susie, and I had the option of searching for a Clay-colored Sparrow that had been seen at some location in northern Indiana but it was a bit out of the way for us. We decided to forego the idea and headed to the Great Marsh in the Dunes State Park instead. One of our first birds was this NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, a fairly good bird for this far north:
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Then, I heard the “Grunk! Grunk! Grunk!” call of a VIRGINIA RAIL from the marsh to the left of the trail, and upon playing its song it came running up to us.
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It was incredibly stealthy and fast among the marsh grasses:
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Male YELLOW WARBLER:
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SWAMP SPARROW:
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Male EASTERN TOWHEE:
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WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS entertained us, playing on the trail ahead:
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Seeing yet another SORA was a treat — Great Marsh was certainly living up to its name.
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WHITE-THROATED SPARROW:
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I couldn’t believe my luck when I returned to the parking lot and layed my eyes on this CLAY-COLORED SPARROW! We decided not to chase the other one discovered at the festival this morning, and lo and behold, we find one on our own — what luck!
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I spent a relaxing afternoon back at Kim’s house in Michigan where we spotted this male INDIGO BUNTING:
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This evening we birded the Galien River Walk in nearby New Buffalo, Michigan which was beautiful as there was a boardwalk trail that ended up winding through the tree canopy and overlooking the river.
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A male BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER was the first bird we saw!
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Female HOUSE FINCH:
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Male BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER:
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Overall, it was quieter this evening though seeing a Blackburnian is always a nice treat.

Bird-of-the-day will be an *unprecedented three-way tie* between the sleeping Eastern Whip-poor-will, the athletic Virginia Rail, and the surprise Clay-colored Sparrow. Runner-up to the Least & American Bitterns. Lots of great species to choose from! Stay tuned for more fun adventures in Indiana tomorrow!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Dunes Fest Day 1: Owling and Whips!

Indiana Dunes State Park, IN

semi-overcast 72 °F

Today, as well as leading the aforementioned Oak Park Bird Walk this morning, Susie Nies and her husband Dennis drove me to Kim Habel’s place near Michigan City, IN which will be my “home base” for the next few days while we attend the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival!
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This evening we attended our first event of the festival titled “Whip-poor-will Wander.” Our guide promised us that if we didn’t see one of those birds, we would get our money back!

Sure enough, barely even having stepped out of the car, I heard an EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL calling across the parking lot. Too cool!

One of the first birds we saw on the walk was a nightjar that landed in a nearby tree, but it wasn’t our hoped-for Whip, it was a COMMON NIGHTHAWK!
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Then, the guide played the Whip’s song for a brief moment and sure enough, the bird came zooming in! Unbelievably, I was able to capture a picture of it in flight!
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Because we didn’t want to disturb it further, the guide suggested we try for a Barred Owl known to live down the road. We walked down the road, she played the owl call, and sure enough, somebody had spotted its dark silhouette sitting on a branch above the road!

BARRED OWL!
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Then, it took off — bye!
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Next, we went to Cowles Bog where we would try for the night rails: Sora and Virginia Rail. Unfortunately, we dipped on both of those birds but Susie did collect this Morel Mushroom:
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And an American Toad was another nice non-avian surprise:
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Finally, the guide gave Susie, Kim, and I a tip on where to find an EASTERN SCREECH-OWL and find it, we did: a beautiful male red phase! Too cool to find this on our own!
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Bird-of-the-evening to the Eastern Screech-Owl with runners-up to the Eastern Whip-poor-will & Barred Owl. Great stuff!!!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 20:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

A nice push of birds

Oak Park, IL

semi-overcast 72 °F

Migration continues — it is evident that the numbers of birds are building up as we approach the peak season which should happen pretty soon considering it’s already mid-May.

Today was great but yesterday was a bit slow with the only notable bird being a GRAY CATBIRD visiting our suet feeder:
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Today, I led an Oak Park Bird Walk and we did much more birding than we did walking, as the area immediately around my house was very, very active. Warblers were in relatively low numbers but in high diversity, with a male AMERICAN REDSTART starting off the show:
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Female INDIGO BUNTING:
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HOUSE WREN:
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Male MAGNOLIA WARBLER, beautiful:
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The birders oohed and ahhed when this BALTIMORE ORIOLE flew in:
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Soon joined by a second:
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LEAST FLYCATCHER is always a nice migrant to catch in the neighborhood:
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SWAINSON’S THRUSH, one of our most secretive yet common migrant species in Oak Park:
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This sharp female BLACKPOLL WARBLER was a great find!
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Male TENNESSEE WARBLER:
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And one single blurry shot of a CAPE MAY WARBLER male that gave the group pretty good views:
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A late RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH:
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ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, cool!
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Male NASHVILLE WARBLER:
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The surprise of the day came right at the end of the walk when I spotted a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER fly over my house! We all raced into the backyard and saw our bird-of-the-day perched high in one of the Elms across my alley.
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Runner-up to the Cape May Warbler. Stay tuned, the next four days will be MIGRATION MADNESS at the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival with Kim Habel and Susie Nies — it will be amazing but I am not sure when I will be able to post, it depends on the Internet situation where we stay.

Stay tuned and good migration birding — get outside and enjoy the beautiful birds!

Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 11:16 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Second bird walk of the year!

Oak Park, IL

semi-overcast 55 °F

Yesterday, I led another Oak Park Bird Walk! Although chilly, seven birders showed up and we had a great time.

There where a few WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS throughout the morning:
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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The “best” bird of the morning was probably this ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER which was a nice surprise, especially considering the fact that warblers were few and far between today:
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WARBLING VIREO:
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NASHVILLE WARBLER:
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This immature COOPER’S HAWK flew by, scaring all the passerines:
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NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH across the alley was a cool find:
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Male INDIGO BUNTING:
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A soaring BROAD-WINGED HAWK was great to see, maybe one of the pair that has been in Oak Park for two years now.
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Male BALTIMORE ORIOLE:
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Male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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Later, another yellowthroat entertained my mom and I, hopping through the backyard:
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As well as a young male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK:
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Bird-of-the-day to the Orange-crowned Warbler, one of the few I have ever seen in Oak Park, and runner-up to the Broad-winged Hawk.

Stay tuned!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 07:42 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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