Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

Block Party for the Birds: Warblers and Sparrows in the Streets April 27, 2009

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 8:13 pm
Tags: , , , ,

It happens every year at about this time: Migrating birds take a day or two off in our neighborhood and hang out in the streets, like a Block Party for the Birds:

Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding on South Elmwood, until the next car comes along.

Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding on South Elmwood Street, until the next car comes along. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Instead of peering up into the leafing-out trees to see warblers, we look down in the gutter:

A male Yellow-rumped Warbler searching for food in the gutter on our street.

A male Yellow-rumped Warbler searching for food in our street's gutter.

Instead of beating the bushes to see native sparrows, we wait patiently until they fly out to the pavement:

Chipping Sparrow taking a bath in the gutter on South Elmwood.

Chipping Sparrow taking a bath in the gutter on South Elmwood Street. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

There were lots warblers and sparrows at our block party, and many more birds were in the streets elsewhere in south Oak Park. Why? We’re guessing it’s because ripening American Elm seeds were knocked to the asphalt by wind and rain, along with many of the bugs that feed on new tree flowers and leaves:

A Yellow-rumped Warbler searches for bugs in a gutter filled with Elm seeds.

A Yellow-rumped Warbler searches for bugs in a gutter filled with elm seeds. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The most abundant warbler species was Yellow-rumped Warbler — the boys counted at least 30 individuals on our block. Palm Warblers were also common in the street — we saw at least a half dozen of them. The best street warbler was an Orange-crowned Warbler, a year bird for us (which would not sit still for a photo). We also saw Pine Warblers and a Northern Waterthrush in trees and on the grass, but not in the street.

The most abundant sparrow on the street was, of course, the House Sparrow, which we hardly count because it’s not native. On our block Chipping Sparrow tied with White-throated Sparrow for the most common native sparrow, but on other blocks White-throated Sparrows won out. Our best street sparrow was a Savannah Sparrow, the first we’ve seen on our block:

We spotted on Savannah Sparrow on the street, the first we had ever seen on our block.

We spotted one Savannah Sparrow on the street, the first we had ever seen on our block. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We also saw a White-crowned Sparrow right before the rain. Our Block Party for the Birds was cut short by that rain about an hour before sunset. Check back on Tuesday afternoon — we may have more photos. Until then, drive carefully! (Maybe next year we’ll get permission to close the street.)

—–

Back yard birds have been pretty great, too, the last few days. Counting both front and back yard, we recorded 22 species on Sunday and 29 species on Monday. But, that’s another post.

We’re also planning at least one more post about our Mad Dash to Missouri.

—–

Note added Wednesday, April 29, 6:40 a.m.:  Tuesday was much colder (mostly upper 40s), and there were few birds on our street for most of the day. Then, as we were preparing to leave for a trip to Columbus Park after school, 7 Yellow-rumped Warblers showed up on the street and nearby sidewalks and even a rooftop.

It seems the pavement party had moved to Columbus Park, although most of the revelers were Palm Warblers. There were several groups of 8 to 10 Palm Warblers on the Park’s asphalt and cinder paths, along with a scattering of Chipping Sparrows and a single Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Note added Wednesday, April 29, 5:30 p.m.: The cold continued today, but I saw at least a few small flocks of birds in the street. One group had a half dozen Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Palm warbler, and a Chipping Sparrow (plus the usual House Sparrows and a Starling).

 

4 Responses to “Block Party for the Birds: Warblers and Sparrows in the Streets”

  1. What a wonderful idea and I particularly love the fact that you give to your loved ones your passion. Though my grandsons live in Wi. I also was able to get them interested early on. I told them they lived in a birders’ paradise (town S. of LaCrosse with their home 3 blocks away from the Mighty Mississippi) Anytime they see a bird of interest they post it in “Grandma’s Bird Book” and then the next time we see each other the book is brought out and I get to see all the wonderful birds they have seen and I show them the ones they haven’t seen. (They usually win.)

  2. Amy Says:

    Woah, that’s awesome! I’ve been looking at the birds in my backyard – I should have a look at the street sometimes, too, I guess!

  3. Beth Hunter Says:

    I enjoyed that. Maybe there’s a block party around here. I’ll have to check.

  4. Linda Padera Says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. In the last few days I’ve seen almost as many Yellow-rumped Warblers out in the streets as I’ve seen in the forest preserves.


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