As soon as we arrived home after yesterday’s trip, the Ethan and Aaron checked IBET and went to work on me. They pleaded that they hadn’t added a single bird to their life lists since January, so I really, really had to take them to see the Golden-crowned Sparrow that birders have been seeing in a small town west of Rockford, Illinois. After blackmailing them to do extra chores and to shower without complaint, I relented — after Sunday School we headed west in the rain. It rained all during the two-and-a-quarter hour drive there, it rained for the whole two hours we looked for the bird, and it rained for the whole trip back.
But we did find our lifer Golden-crowned Sparrow! Unfortunately, all I have to show for it is this photo of the boys and Dave Johnson looking at the bird. (Thanks for finding it, Dave!):
We also found one other year bird near Freeport: A medium-sized tern, initially seen flying over a flooded area on both sides of U.S. 20, about three-quarters of a mile west of Springfield Road:
When we first drove past this bird at 65 miles per hour, we got the impression that its wings were solid gray, and thus thought it was a Common Tern. On the way back we were prepared and stopped briefly along the road. We could then see the tern’s white outer wing features, long tail, and orange-red bill with a black tip. That clinched the identification as Forster’s Tern:
We were soaked, but we agreed it was a great day! We also agreed that we had learned two important life lessons:
- Persistence will be rewarded, at least some of the time. (Despite lots of looking we still haven’t found a Surf Scoter this year.)
- Don’t try to identify terns at 65 miles per hour in the rain. (One good tern does not deserve to be identified as another.)