Thursday, April 30, 2009

Eastern Towhee

We saw a pair of Eastern Towhees at both Northerly Island and The Magic Hedge last weekend. They create quite a fuss on the ground - leaves shuffling and flying up as they scratched and foraged for food.

Male Eastern Towhee

Female Eastern Towhee

Birdwatchers Tip
When first trying to identify birds, make sure you get pictures/views of all sides of the bird you are trying to identify. This helps when comparing what you've seen to books or the Internet.
It would help more if "Bird Books" included pictures of the side of the bird that I usually get.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oven Bird

Saw this little Oven Bird at The Magic Hedge. Took several pictures so we'd be able to identify it. That orange crown seems to be the identifying feature.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

American Coot

I was experimenting with the new camera. I wasn't LOOKING for birds. But there were several American Coots in DuSable Harbor and this one was putting on a little diving show. It really was just dumb luck that I ended up with this series.

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.