Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ornaments are Alive

This little white-throated sparrow and several of his friends were enjoying Chicago's Official Christmas Tree in Daley Plaza. They have a steady stream of food from the Christkindlmarket that is also underway (brat bun scraps, pretzel pieces, etc.). I hope they stay out of the gluhwein, else they'll be flying a bit crooked.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ruby Crested Kinglet

I've posted a few pictures of the Ruby Crested Kinglet in the Spring. Now the little guy is heading back south, but not before he stopped at Grant Park for some road trip snacks.

In the Spring, we saw the Kinglets in trees. This little one was foraging in the leaves on the ground. Good thing he flits around a lot because he could risk being stepped on.

He is so tiny, he could hide behind a leaf.

He moves faster than the shutter - maybe trying to get a better look at my camera?

I almost deleted this photo - thinking he had flitted away and I missed him - until I saw him, close to the left edge of the photo - looking right into the camera.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wood Duck

The male Wood Ducks at North Pond recently molted to their "colors" just in time for Halloween. The males have interesting and beautiful markings to begin with, but when all their feathers are new, they are just so much more intriguing.

A pair of Wood Ducks at North Pond

This one is sitting so quietly that it
seems like a decoy instead of a real bird.

The females don't get the colors and patterns that the males do,
but they do get some eye make-up to give that "come hither" look.

I guess the new feathers are still itchy!

P.S. My Apologies -- I've been watching and photographing the birds more than posting. I have lots of bird photos from the Autumn Migration that I will be getting to this site.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Swainson's Thrush

This little guy took a break during his long migration to take a quick bath in a Grant Park puddle.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nashville Warbler

Fall Migration seems to be picking up based on the variety of birds that are hanging out in Grant Park. Here is the Nashville Warbler. I think he might have arrived a little too early -- next week is the Country Music Fest in Grant Park.

(Click to Enlarge)
But he's still on time for the morning yoga sessions. Here he is doing a side triangle pose.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cardinal Phases

I don't mean to be mean but young cardinals did not fair well in the plumage department. It's one thing to be drab, as many juvenile and/or non-breeding versions of birds are. It's another to be mottled and splotchy.

Perhaps it is like the gawky teenager who becomes a model - it's just a phase they have to go through. And they seem to sense it, too. The ones in Grant Park were squawking up a storm earlier this month. It was almost as if they were all commiserating about how pitiful they looked in comparison to the adult birds.

But then they finish changing colors and they are the most brilliant, sleek red.

You better not post this picture.
I'm not in my good outfit yet.

Can't you wait until I've completely
changed colors to take my picture?

Don't look at me!
Almost there ...
Who? Me?
Mottled red and gray?
That was some OTHER bird.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Down by the Shore

A trio of shore birds spent Labor Day at Montrose Beach (along with the seagulls, volleyball players, and sunbathers)

This Sanderling looks big ...

... until you see it in perspective to a plastic cup. He's a small guy but large for sandpipers.

When it is sitting, the Least Sandpiper looks a lot like a Semipalmated Sandpiper ...
... but when it is up and about you can see the distinguishing greenish legs.
So happy to be back in Chicago, this little Semipalmated Plover ...
... broke into a high-kicking chorus line routine.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cooper's Hawk

Totally surprised by a Cooper's Hawk just sitting quietly in a shrub in the Magic Hedge by Montrose today. We knew one was in the area as we saw it last week in a "flyby". But it is so much more satisfying to be able to watch one, close up, for awhile.

It eventually flew over to a taller tree and kept an eye out - in all directions - for brunch. There was also a kestrel in the area (we only saw it as a "swoopby", though). Two raptors in the area sure kept the warblers, flycatchers, and sparrows on their toes. They were all fairly quiet and kept somewhat still and hidden behind leaves. The notable exception were the goldfinch. They never are quiet -- I think they are singing out "We taste like lemons - you don't want to eat us." ;)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Eastern Kingbird

I really like the Eastern Kingbird. They have lovely markings and are enjoyable (and easy) to watch because they remain in the same general area for awhile. They perch and watch. Fly off for a bug and then return to the same (or nearly the same) perch.

While they usually strike a rather stately pose, as the last photo shows, they are quite capable of an occasional goofy look.

Friday, August 21, 2009


This happy little bird, a Dickcissel, was singing away on Northerly Island in downtown Chicago. He's got great coloring - I think it looks like he's wearing a snazzy suit with a black ascot. It's actually not hard to catch him in mid-song since he opens his beak so widely to sing out (which he does often).

Friday, July 31, 2009

Caspian Tern

The Caspian Tern has a real "Joe Cool" Surfer look. There have been a few lingering by Montrose Beach throughout the summer. (There were more in the Spring but, I believe, they've moved further north now.)

These next four shots were of one of the terns looking for lunch. They hover, a little, while looking down into the water.

This one took offense, I think, when I suggested that it looked more like Moe of the Three Stooges than a Joe Cool Surfer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mallard Duck

This Mallard and her duckling were swimming around Burnham Harbor. The mercury-like appearance of the water is due to a boat's reflection. The little duckling stayed very close to its mother. I have a feeling that's because there were a lot of seagulls around looking for wayward ducklings.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Savannah Sparrow

This Savannah Sparrow, at Northerly Island, seemed only too happy to mug for the camera.

"Hey! You with the camera! Take my picture!"

"This is my dramatic look!"

"Uh-Oh! That feather is out of place. Every one has to be just right!"

"I'm ready for my close-up"

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"

Friday, July 10, 2009


We've seen some Killdeer at two locations in Chicago: Montrose Beach (near the Magic Hedge) and Northerly Island. I like their very clean clear markings. They're fun to watch as well. They tend to run and then suddenly stop and sit. Apparently they stop to see if they've scared up any bugs to eat.

At Montrose Beach

Taking in the view at Northerly Island

AAACK! A Photographer!