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.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eastern Towhee

Spring Migration Season has barely started and I feel like I am way behind in posting. I will really try to catch up during the rest of this week.

I don't usually see the Eastern Towhee up in a tree. I usually see them scratching around on the ground. I realized, today, that I had not heard their song. Until this afternoon. It was the song that made me go looking for the bird. They have a loud song - I heard it across the park - that is more a chirp with a nice tone. I guess this one was alerting all the other birds to the pretty setting that is Grant Park. Either that, or he was intentionally distracting me from trying to find that Eastern Meadowlark I had seen earlier. ;)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Winter's Ending Water Fowl

As winter comes to a close (maybe?), the water fowl move back north. Of course, they stop in Chicago for a little while to enjoy our harbors and marinas before the boaters come back.

This interesting looking bird is a White Winged Scoter. I love the swooshy eye marking and the way the water beads up on its back.

This is a Northern Shoveler, named, I presume, because of that beak that looks like it could plow some streets in the winter, too.

A pair of Northern Shovelers doing what they do best: shoveling the water for lunch.