Sunday, December 12, 2010

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Found this Red-bellied Woodpecker on a recent trip to Ryerson Woods. His colors - the red "hood" and the beautiful black and white striping - are so striking. And, upon closer inspection of the photos, the holes in the tree seem to indicate it is a favorite of the local woodpeckers. The very last picture in this series shows a little view of why he is called a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Harelequin Ducks

Chicago has some interesting visitors. Some Harlequin Ducks are visiting the lakefront. Now, last year there was a single Harlequin Duck sighted at various lakefront locations. He must have enjoyed himself because this year he brought along two friends. I think these are immature ones, based on the description on the Cornell website so they don't have the interesting breeding colors but if they stay around long enough, perhaps we'll be treated to their winter costume.

What are you looking at?

Hey! I can see the Hancock Building if I stand up like this.

Getting your ducks lined up

Splash Fest!

Splish! Splash! He was taking a bath

Splash Fest! The Sequel!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Grant Park seems to have been overtaken by the pecking birds: Sapsuckers, Flickers, Creepers, and Nuthatches. This particular one indulged my camera and I for quite awhile.

This sun feels good on
my tired old migrating bones

I wonder if the bugs on that tree
over there are more tasty?

Me and My Shadow

Defying Gravity

This looked easier when that Sapsucker
was doing it

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Welcome Back Little Warblers

I shouldn't be surprised. The human bird watchers figured out a while ago that Grant Park was a great spot for bird watching during the Spring and Fall Migrations. It was only a matter of time that the birds of prey figured out that Grant Park would be a good spot for watching for little birds as well.

This guy swooped by me on Tuesday morning. Sparrows, warblers, thrushes, and finches all headed for cover. He landed in a tree and, as his expression shows, caught sight of a potential mid-morning snack. He swooped away a few seconds later -- I didn't see if he caught his target or not. I do know that it was pretty quiet, bird-wise, in Grant Park after that.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Warblers on the Move, Part II

A few more of this week's warbler convention

Prothonotary Warbler
(Not to be confused with a Yellow Warbler -- unless you just see the head)

Wilson's Warbler
(Not to be confused with Mr. T -- though the hairstyle is similar)

Common Yellowthroat
(Not to be confused with The Hamburglar - though they both have that mask)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Warblers on the Move, Part I

Lots of migrating warblers coming through Chicago. These were posing for me. (A few others - such as the elusive Canada Warbler and the Black Throated Blue - refused to sit still enough in a well lit area for me to get a decent photo.)

Palm Warbler

Magnolia Warbler
(Singing to greet the sun on a beautiful May morning)

Black Throated Green Warbler
(who doesn't quite blend in with the green leaves)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Rush of Thrushes

These three thrushes,
flushed from a rushed migration,
were in the brush,
crushing mushy bugs and making quite a hushed fuss,
not wanting to gush about their lush location.

OK. That's enough. I'll stop. ;)

Wood Thrush


Hermit Thrush

(Although it LOOKS thrush-like, the ovenbird is actually in the Warbler family)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rose Breasted Grosbeak

The Rose Breasted Grosbeak is a pretty cool looking bird. I first saw one last year, around this time, high up in a tree. This one was nice enough to perch on a lower limb and sit still for its portrait. Truth be told, the "sitting still" part doesn't seem too out-of-the-ordinary for the Grosbeak. They seem to be a rather "laid-back" bird - nibbling on leaves and seeds - compared to the crazed flitting and jumping of the warblers and flycatchers.

Male Rose Breasted Grosbeak

Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak*

* I REALLY wanted to believe this bird was a new "life list" sparrow or longspur that I hadn't seen before. The more I took pictures, though, the more the beak looked familiar - even though the rest of the bird looked very sparrow-like. Then I saw the male grosbeak with that very telltale beak and realized my "cool new sparrow" was a female Rose Breasted Grosbeak.

Nature plays a joke on me ;)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tale of Two Cities

A visit to Seattle gave us the opportunity to see the western versions of some of our Chicago birds. Both versions are shown below.

Western Difference: Darker head, Back and Sides are brown

Western Difference: Wings have white spots instead of white bars

Western Difference: Yellow throat instead of White throat

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sparrows of the Week

These sparrows were having a convention in Chicago this week.

Clockwise from top left
Chipping Sparrow, White Crowned Sparrow,
Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Tree Sparrow

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Look! A Blue Gray Gnatcatcher! Well, wait look over there. No, over there. No, over there. This is one of the early "flitty" birds. It flits quicker than the little gnats it goes after.

I'll spare you ALL the photos of empty branches, leaves, and blue-gray blurs that I had to take in order to get these three. (I am surprised to have gotten two of this little bird sitting still!) But at least it gets us in practice for the flitty warblers soon to return.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

House Sparrow

Couldn't resist snapping a photo of this House Sparrow. He seemed to be so proud of the fancy little pink feather he found. Many of the resident birds around here are in the process of building nests, so, presumably, he's going to "feather his nest" with this bright little doo-dad.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hermit Thrush

Well, never let it be said that a bird can't get a good meal in Chicago. This Hermit Thrush must have started hitting all the good restaurants and bakeries as soon as he landed.

I guess migration is similar to a marathon: before a long flight, you gotta bulk up on the carbs and calories.

Do you think he'll even be able to take off?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Caspian Terns

Another early bird: the Caspian Tern. These two were having a debate on Montrose Beach this past weekend.

"Tastes Great"

"Less Filling"


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Brown Creeper

Oh this poor little Brown Creeper. So close and yet so far. Apparently the poor little guy was so delirious from his migration trip that he confused almost every vertical item for a tree. He scaled almost every stair railing and decorative metal bar in the Bloch Cancer Survivor Park before he found a tree.

In reality, I didn't need to worry about him too much as those railings and metal gates probably house a good number of small insects and spiders which, for the Creeper, are a tasty treat.

A tree? No a stair railing!

A tree? No a fence post!

A tree? No a gazebo!
(But at least there is a flower)

A tree? No a cement barrier!

SUCCESS! A Tree! Hurray!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Brown Thrasher

The Brown Thrashers are coming through Chicago. They haven't been around since last fall. This one was over by Burnham Harbor last weekend, enjoying some very mild temperatures. It was great to be able to observe him for awhile; they swing their head from side to side using their long curved beak to stir up leaves while looking for food (probably why they are called Thrashers?).

He then treated us to a song - which I hadn't heard before. I guess I expected it to be more of a gravelly "AACK" type sound but it is a very pretty and melodic song.

WHAT are you looking at?!?

What's back there that you are taking a picture of?

Are you still here?

Oh forget it! I'm going back to eating!

I'm ready for my close-up.