Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

More Migration on Radar, Plus Photos of a New Arrival March 16, 2009

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 7:00 am
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Last night’s Chicago Tribune weather radar showed more birds on the move. (See yesterday’s post for more information on birding with weather radar.)

The patches of color appearing on the screen are birds taking off and heading north.  The patches of color appearing on the screen are birds taking off and heading north. (The area around Green Bay is purplish because the radar computer interprets the birds as freezing rain.)

The patches of color appearing on the screen are birds taking off and heading north. (The area near Green Bay is purplish because the radar computer interprets the birds as freezing rain.)

Given that, we weren’t surprised to find a new arrival at our feeder this morning:

Male Purple Finch seen at our feeder in Oak Park, Illinois, March 16, 2009. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Male Purple Finch seen at our feeder in Oak Park, Illinois, on March 16, 2009. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Here's one way to tell it's a Purple Finch and not a House Finch: The top of the head is raspberry colored, not brown. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Here's one way to tell it's a Purple Finch and not a House Finch: The top of the head is raspberry colored, not brown. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

It’s a male Purple Finch, an uncommon visitor to our neighborhood — a year bird for Ethan and Dad. The last time we saw one in our yard was early November, 2008. We even heard it sing.

The Purple Finch is one of my favorite birds, in part because it’s one of the few birds I remember from my childhood in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. I remember my Grandma Davis pointing one out to me at her feeder when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. I recall thinking that “Purple Finch” was a pretty crazy name for a bird. It was not a spark bird for me, though — I didn’t get interested in birds until I was in college. Back then I was much more interested in Box Turtles and Garter Snakes — and World War II.

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Update added Monday later the same day, March 16:

I just got back from a walk to Columbus Park, about a mile from our home. I hear and then saw an Eastern Phoebe — a new arrival for this year. It moved through the Austin woods pretty quickly — if it finds the Columbus Park lagoon, it may settle in for a longer stay.

On my late morning walk, I also recorded my highest daily count for the Park so far this year: 23 species. Then the boys and I visited the Park again that evening. We saw two additional species — including Northern Flicker, another recent arrival in the Park — for a total of 25 species for the day. Go here to read more about our birding in Columbus Park.

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