This is my photo submission to the weekly Bird D’pot (Bird Digital Photography) meme hosted by Anni at I’D-Rather-B-Birdin’.
It is relatively easy to identify birds in their normal habitat. It’s a bit like going to a cafeteria where there may be little variety in the food selections. You just don’t expect to see an exotic dish.
Dickcissels are birds of the grasslands, where I can pick them out at first glance. When this one showed up in a woodland, the game changed. Suddenly it was just a strange sparrow-sized yellowish bird. I struggled to see the shape of its bill as it moved furtively among the leaves of a tall oak tree.
Some kind of vireo came immediately to mind, but this bird jumped from one branch to another as it actively gleaned insects, unlike the methodical movement of vireos. Was its bill long and sharp as that of an immature or female oriole? Thick as would be expected in a tanager, or conical in a finch? Did it have wing bars or tail markings? It seemed to have a faint yellow line over its eye. I kept switching between binoculars and camera, hoping to document it and possibly capture its field marks.
Frankly, I was not sure of this bird’s identity until, in between brief sightings, I enlarged the camera view. Luckily, I caught a partial image as it moved between the leaves. A finch-like bill, sparrow-like back, and chestnut shoulder patches were its distinctive features. This female Dickcissel was roosting in a wooded area in Hawk’s Bluff Park, Batavia, Illinois. There is a small area of grassland adjacent to this section of the woods. I had never before seen a Dickcissel at the park.
Only after being properly identified, it settled on a leafless twig and gave me a dozen nice open views.