Rosyfinch Ramblings
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November 2010
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Land of Lincoln Sparrow
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Illinois, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 5:42 am

New “yard birds” for our summer home in northeastern Illinois, this family group of three Sandhill Cranes showed up at a flooddle in our front yard, which is actually a vacant lot. They looked so white that I thought for a moment they were Whooping Cranes. I took this photo through the upstairs window of our condo, hence the poor quality:

Sandhill Cranes in yard 20101009

During a fun-filled but rainy weekend at Starved Rock, in Utica Illinois, we got in a little birding between the raindrops while our granddaughters played all day in the huge indoor water park at Grizzly Jack’s resort.

There were several flocks of Eastern Bluebirds in old trees on the south bank of the Illinois River:

Eastern Bluebird 3-20101024

We welcomed the sight of bluebirds, which have already abandoned our area of the state, only about 50 miles to the north:

Eastern Bluebird 2-20101024

Visible from the north side of the river, a flock of American White Pelicans fished cooperatively. They moved in a tight formation:

American White Pelicans 20101024

Then they flew a short distance to a spot where bait fish were jumping:

American White Pelicans 2-20101024

Finally, together, they herded a school of fish and feasted:

American White Pelicans fishing 20101024

We have enjoyed beautiful weather this fall, but the past week our birding was curtailed by one of the worst wind storms ever to hit the Midwest. While we were holed up by the wind and cold I spent time observing the bird feeder in our daughter’s back yard, in Batavia. Dark-eyed Juncos have arrived in large numbers.

This junco has a very dark, almost black hood, a color variation more common in the Canadian Rockies:

Dark-eyed Junco 4-20101025

Here is a male “Slate-colored” Junco with more typical plumage. Note its pale pink bill:

Dark-eyed Junco 2-20101025

The adult female “Slate-colored” shows more brown on her back and sides:

Dark-eyed Junco 3-20101025

A Black-capped Chickadee brightens a dreary day:

Black-capped Chickadee 20101025

Of course, there were House Sparrows, a species that we do not have in our South Florida neighborhood:

House Sparrow male 20101029

We had time to notice the blue eyelids of a Mourning Dove, framed by the wrought iron fence…

Mourning Dove 20101025

…and enjoy the sight of a soaring Red-tailed Hawk:

Red-tailed Hawk 20101029

As soon as the weather broke, we headed over to Nelson Lake/Dick Young Forest Preserve to see whether the cold front had brought in any unusual birds.

A Northern Cardinal is anything but unusual, but who can resist its charm?

Northern Cardinal 20101029

The morning sun reflects off the white breast of the (what else?) White-breasted Nuthatch:

White-breasted Nuthatch 20101029

A lucky shot catches this Fox Sparrow in a Kamikaze dive:

Free-falling Fox Sparrow 2-20101029

We then took our grandchildren to the playground at nearby Jones Meadow Park in North Aurora. After I had checked out the retention pond, our 6 year old granddaughter called my attention to a “Greed” diving among the Canada Geese.

Sure enough, she had spotted a Pied-billed Grebe that I had overlooked:

Pied-billed Grebe 20101029

While Mary Lou supervised the girls, I stole off a short way down the path. As I was looking at a Hermit Thrush, a Lincoln’s Sparrow popped up in a small willow not more than 15 feet away. This species breeds to the north, and passes through Illinois to winter in the southern states.

The Lincoln’s Sparrow was in perfect light, and it posed for nearly a minute (click on photo for additional views):

Lincolns Sparrow 3-20101029