Monday, April 27, 2009


It starts out innocently. You're at a book store and you pick up a book called "A Supremely Bad Idea". It's about how a guy got wrapped up in his bird watching hobby with a couple of his friends. Sounds like a perfect summer read.

So you read the book. Laugh at the guy as he tumbles into the world of life birds, lists, nemesis birds, birding vacations, studying bird songs, debating the subtle variations of warblers. Nice, but you live in Chicago. All that's around here are pigeons, robins, sparrows, ducks and a heck of a lot of Canadian Geese. Right?

But, then it's a lazy summer afternoon and you happen to notice a bunch of birds in a park. You look closer and you realize some of those sparrows are more gray than the other ones. Some have yellow markings. Others have white striped heads. Why do they all look different? Aren't sparrows just sparrows?

Hmmmm. Better look that up on the internet. Wow. There are over 50 different types of sparrows? There really is a difference between gulls and terns? Who knew? Can you see these in a major urban city?

What's this "Magic Hedge" thing that gets mentioned a lot. Maybe that's worth a visit? There are a lot of trees by the Chicago River. Think there are any birds over there? There's a lot of chirping in Grant Park. Could there be birds hanging out there? Is anything still landing at Northerly Island since Miegs Field got closed down? Maybe it's not just Mallards, seagulls, and Canadian Geese that swim around the harbor?

Let's just take the binoculars. Wait, better bring the Sibley's book. Oh, and just in case there's something there, I'll take my camera, too.

1 comment:

  1. About a year and a half ago, we moved to the Sauganash neighborhood, from a 5th floor condo at Lincoln and Belmont. I innocently hung a bird feeder from the old clothesline post in our yard, in the early spring of 2008. Since then, I've discovered there is way more to Chicago than robins, pigeons, sparrows and seagulls. Blue jays, indigo buntings, chipping sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, goldfinches, house finches, chickadees, not to mention the raccoons, rabbits, opossum, chipmunks, black squirrels and deer that mosey down my block and hang out in my yard...well, the deer don't hang, but everyone else does. I've spent many a summer afternoon listening to bird songs in my yard, thrilled when I finally i.d. a bird and put a song to it's face. I'm such a nerd...