Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

Back to the Beach: Ethan’s Amazing Photos May 3, 2009

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 9:35 pm
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I keep telling the boys that if you want to see great birds, you have to be persistent and patient. It turns out that persistence and patience also lead to great bird photos, especially when you add a little luck and a few relatively fearless birds. That’s how Ethan got his amazing photos of a Tricolored Heron when we returned to Waukegan Beach on Sunday. We were hoping to see at least one of the 88 Willets that we missed yesterday, and maybe see one of the two Piping Plovers that showed up there this morning.

But first, here are the Tricolored Heron photos. Ethan merely stood at the edge of the interdunal pond with another photographer and waited, and the heron eventually came to them:

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricolored Heron fishing. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Tricolored Heron finally caught a fish! Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Tricolored Heron finally caught a fish! Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

That was a lot of work for a very small fish. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

That was a lot of work for a very small fish. Fortunately, it caught a lot of them. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

To see how all this posturing fits together into an effective fishing strategy, go here to see a high definition YouTube video made shortly after Ethan took his photos. Also, go here to see photos taken by the other photographer who was with Ethan. (He’s a professional with better equipment and much more experience.)

The Piping Plover was not quite as dramatic, but it was very cute. Again, Ethan waited patiently by the edge of a mudflat, and the bird came to him:

The Piping Plover seemed to be picking bugs out of the mud. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Piping Plover seemed to be picking bugs out of the mud. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Look at the legs. We saw no leg bands on any of our photos. This individual was not banded as part of the continuing research conducted on this endangered species. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Look at its bare legs -- we saw no leg bands in any of our photos of the Piping Plover. Apparently this individual was not banded as part of the continuing research conducted on this endangered species. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

To read more about efforts to save the Piping Plover, please go here or here (especially near the bottom of the page). Recreational use of beaches and dogs off leash can prevent Piping Plovers from nesting.

As Ethan was photographing the plover, some Forster’s Terns started fishing in the river behind it. They hovered overhead, then dove into the water to catch fish:

Forster's Tern hovering while looking for a fish. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Forster's Tern hovering while looking for a fish. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Note the white on the tip of the outer wing -- a clue that this is a Forster's Tern (and not a Common Tern). Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Note the white on the tip of the upper right wing -- a clue that this is a Forster's Tern (and not a Common Tern). Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

And finally, we did see a Willet — in fact, we saw seven of them at the far north end of the beach. Four Willets worked their way south along the beach until they got close enough for a photo.

Note the Willet's stout bill, short neck, and relatively plain coloration. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Note the Willet's long but stout bill, gray legs, short neck, and the small dark spots and bars that cover its body and upper wings. If it had flown we would have seen a bold white and black pattern on its wings, but these Willets just walked away. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Aaron lay down in their path, hoping they wouldn’t consider him a threat and would keep foraging right past him. No such luck. They turned back and foraged northwards to join the other three Willets.

But still, it was a great day!

 

American Avocet and More Year Birds in Lake County, Illinois May 2, 2009

Filed under: Animals,Birds,Seasons,Spring — saltthesandbox @ 8:39 pm
Tags: , , , ,

We’ve been having a great time birding in our neighborhood this week, but the boys were begging to go farther afield to search for year birds unlikely close to home. So, after making Ethan sleep in so he’d recover from his cold, we headed north to Lake County, Illinois. Our first stop was Waukegan Beach, where we saw the Tricolored Heron that’s been hanging there for several days. We also met some other birders, who told us they’d seen an American Avocet and nine Willets at the farthest north beach in Illinois. After seeing first-of-year Bank Swallows and Purple Martins flying over the Waukegan beaches — but not seeing Willets — we decided to head to Stateline Beach.

When we got there at 12:15 p.m., all the Willets were gone, but the Avocet was swimming just offshore. Unfortunately it was scared off by beachwalking humans before Ethan could get photos. We watched it fly eastward and then land about 150 meters out. It swam for 10 minutes or so until the coast was clear, and then flew back to the beach:

After beign scared off by beachwalkers, the American Avocet waited off shore, then returned once the coast was clear. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

After getting scared off by beachwalkers, the American Avocet waited off shore. It flew back to the beach once the coast was clear. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The boys slowly crept close enough to get some semi-decent, identifiable photos. After ten more minutes of Avocet watching, we left in search of other year birds.

We found three year birds at the south unit of Illinois Beach State Park — Yellow-throated Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Veery — but no Willets. So, we returned to Stateline Beach at 4:30 p.m., hoping that morning’s Willets had returned. No such luck. The Avocet, however, was still there, in the same place we’d left it. After a couple with a small dog approached within 50 meters of the Avocet without scaring it away, the boys crept a bit closer than they’d been before, and got somewhat better photos. (Ethan’s Sony DSC-H50 kept focusing on seawalls and sand rather than on the bird.)

The American Avocet mostly sttod or swam in sahllow water. It did not feed while we were watching. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The American Avocet mostly stood or swam in shallow water. It did not feed while we were watching. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We also saw a Cliff Swallow on our second visit the Stateline Beach. That was the boys’ eighth year bird for the day. With any luck our trusting Avocet won’t get eaten overnight and will still be there Sunday morning.

On the way home we looked once again for Willets at Waukegan Beach. We later read on IBET that we’d just missed a flock of more than 80 Willets. Willets may become our nemesis bird of 2009.

Here are some photos of two other year birds for May 2, 2009. To start, here’s our best shot of the Tricolored Heron:

We couldn't get close enough to the Tricolored Heron to get a good photo with Ethan's camera. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We couldn't get close enough to get a good photo with Ethan's camera. However, this shot shows that the Tricolored Heron looks like a smaller, darker version of a Great Blue Heron. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Here are a couple of photos of a Veery we saw along the Dead River Trail at the south unit of Illinois Beach State Park. There were two Veerys along the east section of the trail — the part that goes through the woods — in a pool behind the first bench.

This view shows the Veery's reddish-brown upper parts. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Veery is a kind of thrush. This view shows the Veery's reddish-brown upper parts. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

This view shows the faint spots on the Veery's breast.

This view shows the faint spots on the Veery's breast. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Finally, the boys saw their first baby Canada Geese of the spring. (I saw my first ones yesterday at Columbus Park.)

These hatchling Canada Geese were with their parents at North Point Marina. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

These hatchling Canada Geese were with their parents at North Point Marina. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

 

On the Road: Gulls with Black Heads, and More April 19, 2009

After two nights with the weather radar showing birds migrating our way, we had to hit the road on Saturday for some Big Footprint birding.

First stop: Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Chicago. Driving into the park we met our friend Paul, who told us he’d seen a Laughing Gull flying towards the harbor. After searching the harbor, harbor mouth, pier, beach, and open lake for more than an hour, we finally found the Laughing Gull sitting on a dock in the middle of the harbor. Here’s the dock, looking west from the entrance of the sanctuary:

The docks at Montrose Harbor, The red arrow shows where we finally found the Laughing Gull.

The docks at Montrose Harbor. The red arrow shows where we finally found the Laughing Gull.

And here’s the bird, resting with some Ring-billed Gulls that sometimes moved and blocked our view:

The Laughing Gull (with black head) is resting in the center of the photo. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The Laughing Gull (with black head) is resting in the center of the photo. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The bird was too far out for Ethan to get good photos with his Sony DSC-H50 camera. For the record, here’s a digiscoped image, that shows its black head and dark gray mantle (back and folded wings). If you look closely you can also see its heavy, dark red bill and the broken white ring that surrounds most of the eye:

The Laughing Gull is resting in front of a somewhat larger Ring-billed Gull.

The Laughing Gull is resting in front of a somewhat larger Ring-billed Gull.

The time spent searching for the Laughing Gull was not wasted, because we found lots of other great birds. Ethan got a photo of a Common Loon near the entrance to the harbor:

The Coomon Loon sawm close, attracting the attention of both birders and fisher folk along the shore.

The Common Loon swam close, attracting the attention of both birders and fisher folk along the shore. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Also during our search at Montrose, I saw my first Barn Swallow of the year. Aaron and I watched a Wilson’s Snipe take flight from the dunes. As we followed it through our binoculars, we saw a Peregrine Falcon chasing it, then giving up half way down the beach. And, as the radar predicted, we saw many recent migrants to our area. Most of these birds we had seen earlier this spring at Columbus Park (like Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Swamp Sparrow, and both kinglets) or on birding trips to central Illinois (like a Vesper Sparrow near the beach). We couldn’t find the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher that Paul and others had seen earlier that morning.

We were also pleased to meet many of our birder friends exploring Montrose, plus a few followers of this blog. It was great to see lots of beginning birders, including some on a bird walk sponsored by Science Chicago. (Like many new birders, we still carry our field guide almost all the time, but it’s really worn, and we open it less often).

After a quick stop at North Park Village Nature Center to buy me some new binoculars at the Eagle Optics special sale, we headed south, then east to Indiana. This part of our trip was inspired by posts by Jeff McCoy on the Indiana birders e-mail list. Our first stop, south of I-80 in Gary, Indiana, produced an Eared Grebe, plus many ducks. The Grebe was a year bird for us, but it was way too far out to get a photo. Our next stop was on U.S. 30, a mile or so east of its intersection with Indiana 39. We looked at a series of flooded farm fields along the highway and nearby gravel roads:

Ethan and Aaron scanned the field for shorebirds -- finding hundreds of them!

Ethan and Aaron scanned the field for shorebirds -- and found hundreds of them!

We finally had the mass shorebird experience we’ve been searching for all spring — hundreds of Pectoral Sandpipers foraged at the margins of the “fluddles” (as birders tend to call them):

Can you find all seven Pectoral Sandpipers? We found several hundred of them. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Can you find all seven Pectoral Sandpipers? We found several hundred of them. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Here’s a closer view, showing the distinctive pattern on the chest:

Birders use size, bill shape and color, leg color, steaking on the chest, and several other features to distinguish Pectoral Sandpipers from similar, related species. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Birders use size, bill shape and color, leg color, steaking on the chest, and several other features to distinguish Pectoral Sandpipers from similar, related species. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

There were four other species of shorebirds nearby: Least Sandpiper (another year bird for us), Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, and (of course) Killdeer. We also found our second species of gull-with-a-black-head swimming in the fuddles near the sandpipers — Bonaparte’s Gull:

The smaller overall size, paler mantle, and smaller black bill help distinguish this resting Bonaparte's Gull from the Laughing Gull we saw earlier today. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The smaller overall size, paler mantle, and smaller black bill help distinguish this resting Bonaparte's Gull from the Laughing Gull we saw earlier today. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We still had several hours until sunset, so we headed south and then west through Indiana. We didn’t find any new birds at first, but we did see some really beautiful pigs grazing along the road. We also got our first bug spatters on the windshield, and Ethan got his first mosquito bite of spring.

We ended up at Willow Slough, near Morocco, Indiana, just before sunset, where we heard our first Bobwhite of the year. After sunset we drove near a marsh, just sat in the car, and listened. We heard Spring Peeper peeping, American Toad trilling, and American Woodcock mating calls. Then, finally, the boys heard what we had been listening for — the grunt of a Virginia Rail in the distance. (I, unfortunately, was on the wrong side of the car.)

We finally reached home at about 10:30 p.m. And when Aaron gets home from Sunday School, we’ll probably hit the road again, despite the threat of rain.

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So, tomorrow the kids go back to school, and I’ll have a week of Big Green birding to catch up with new birds near our home and at Columbus Park. This morning I heard White-throated Sparrows singing from the neighbors’ backyards. I wonder what the warm winds later this week will send our way?

 

Yesterday’s Birds, This Morning’s Weather Radar April 12, 2009

Yesterday the boys and I went on a birding field trip to eastern Lake County, Illinois, with the Evanston North Shore Birding Club. We visited sites along Lake Michigan and a few miles inland, and we saw some cool birds. We saw some species that have been found in our area all winter, like this first-year Glaucous Gull:

First-year Glaucous Gull on the docks at North Point Marina. (Another gull is right behind it.)

First-year Glaucous Gull on the docks at North Point Marina. (Another gull is right behind it.) Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We also found some relatively recent spring migrants, like this Ruby-crowned Kinglet:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet flicking its wings in a tangle of branches.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet flicking its wings in a tangle of branches. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We even saw a Garter Snake basking in the sun:

This Garter Snake was soaking up the sun beside the lake.

This Garter Snake was soaking up the sun beside the lake. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

However, I was disappointed that we did not see more recent arrivals to our area. In fact, most of the spring migrants were the same species we have been seeing for more than a week. We only added one year bird to our lists — Cedar Waxwing — and this bird may have been eating fruit around here all winter:

This Ceadr Waxwing was eating fruits in a tall bush beside a lake.

This Cedar Waxwing was eating fruit in a tall bush beside a lake. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Part of the problem has been the weather. It’s not just that the temperatures have been relatively cool, it’s why it’s been relatively cool — because the winds have been blowing from northerly directions. Most birds won’t migrate with the winds against them. Last night, though, the winds started to change. As shown on this map from the Chicago Tribune‘s website, to the west of us the winds were from the southeast. During the night the winds here in Chicago started blowing from the east:

Last night the winds in our area shifted from northeast to east.

Animated winds map from the Chicago Tribune website. Last night the winds to the west of us were from the south. The winds in our area came more from the east.

The birds responded dramatically, as seen on this animated weather radar image from the Chicago Tribune‘s website:

The green and pruple washes are migrating birds in flight. (The purple areas are just above freezing, so the weather radar computers interpret the birds as sleet or freezing rain.)

Animated weather radar from the Chicago Tribune website. The green and purple washes are migrating birds in flight. (Temperatures in the purple areas are just above freezing, so weather radar computers interpret the birds as sleet or freezing rain.)

So, instead of hunting Easter eggs today, we’ll hunt for birds produced from eggs hatched long ago. We’ll look and listen to discover which new birds have arrived in our area. We’ll watch our backyard, make a morning trip to Columbus Park, and explore around my sister’s home in Glenview after we celebrate Easter with our family. (We’ll also wish we were in western Illinois or eastern Iowa, because the radar showed lots more bird migration there.)

We’ll let you know what we find. Why don’t you let us know what you find, too?

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You can study bird migration using radar images from WeatherUnderground (the source of the Tribune’s images) and the National Weather Service radar website.

To learn more about using weather radar to track bird movements: The Badbirdz – Reloaded blog includes a primer on using weather radar to track bird migration. For more explanations of birds and radar, try the New Jersey Audubon website.

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Aaron ended the day with 153 species on his year list, and I wound up with 144. Go here to see my updated year list.

 

Big Break Birding Total Reaches 100! April 2, 2009

It’s spring break, and the race is on to find new first-of-year birds and to see how many kinds of birds we can find during the break. We’re calling it Big Break Birding, and it includes both Big Footprint Birding (long trips from home) and Big Green Birding (birding in the neighborhood).

Two male Purple Finches showed up in our yard at lunchtime to push our Big Break total to 100 species. Here’s what happened when one visited our sunflower feeder:

A pair of House Finches try to chase a male Purple Finch from our sunflower feeder. They did not succeed. (Those are American Goldfinches in the background.)

A pair of House Finches try to chase a male Purple Finch from our sunflower feeder. They did not succeed. (Those are American Goldfinches in the background.)

A close-up view shows the Purple Finch has just husked a sunflower seed. Note that, in male Purple Finches, the raspberry color extends over the top of the head:

The male Purple Finch has just cracked through the seed coat and is holding a sunflower kernel.

The male Purple Finch has just cracked through the seed coat and is holding a sunflower kernel.

In the enlargement below, the female House Finch, with her plain brown face, is in front. The male House Finch, with with a reddish face but brown on the top of his head, is behind her:

The female House Finche's bill is open and ready to attack.

The female House Finch's bill is open and ready to attack.

Within a split second the Purple Finch dropped its seed and struck back — it drove off the House Finches and reclaimed its perch at the feeder.

Other Big Break Birds today included a male Eastern Towhee feeding and singing in our yard at sunrise and three adult Black-crowned Night-Herons sleeping in a tree at Columbus Park, seen on my morning walk.

Yesterday — a Big Footprint day — was only moderately successful. We birded the Lake Michigan shoreline in Indiana, searching for a rare Glaucous-winged Gull that had been reported the day before. We walked the windy, wave-swept shore for hours looking closely at every gull:

We hiked a mile to look closely at the four immature gulls in the center of the photo. The foreground is blurred by wind-blown sand. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We hiked a mile to look closely at the four immature gulls in the center of the photo. The foreground is blurred by wind-blown sand. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We had no luck finding the gull (which may have been misidentified anyway). However, we did add a year bird — Caspian Tern — plus three additional Big Break Birds (Black Scoter, White-winged Scoter, and Merlin).

We also headed south to look for birds in flooded fields along the Kankakee River in Indiana. We saw neither year birds nor Big Break birds, but we did see some pretty spectacular sights. Thousands of birds were feeding in the flooded farm fields, including hundreds of Northern Shovelers (more than we had ever seen before). Every 10 minutes or so something would scare the birds and many would take flight:

Frightened ducks take flight from a flooded field in Jasper County, Indiana. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Frightened ducks take flight from a flooded field in Jasper County, Indiana. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Other birds got nervous as we drove close, but they swam away slowly, so Ethan got some better photos:

Male Canvasback (upper right), pair of Ring-necked Ducks (center right), and three American Coots (in foreground).

Male Canvasback (upper right), pair of Ring-necked Ducks (center right), and three American Coots (in foreground). Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Pair of Redheads (female facing away from the camera).

Pair of Redheads (female facing away from the camera). Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

American Coots head for open water in a flooded field near the Kankakee River.

American Coots head for open water in a flooded field near the Kankakee River. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

On Wednesday, our four Big Break Birds cost us 12 hours of birding and 300 mile of driving. Today’s three Big Break Birds were seen in 6 hours (so far), with 4 miles of walking to see the Night-Herons.

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Note added same day, Thursday, at 6:20 p.m.: Ethan and I just got back from a drive to Columbus Park. I took him there to see the Black-crowned Night-Herons, a year bird for him. We found them roosting in a Weeping Willow tree. Ethan also found a Hermit Thrush in the woods — another year bird for him, and also our Big Break Bird number 101.

 

Big Green and Big Footprint Birding February 17, 2009

It was a long and pretty birdy weekend, with a bit of Big Green and a lot of Big Footprint birding. (That’s Big Carbon Footprint — see below.) The weekend was long because school was half days on Thursday and Friday, and the boys had Monday off for President’s Day. It was pretty birdy because we went on lots of birding trips and saw many of the birds we hoped to see, but not all of them.

The Big Green part was my birding for the Great Backyard Bird Count, which was mostly done around the neighborhood on foot. Big Green Big Year birding, pronounced “Bigby,” is self-propelled, low carbon-footprint birding. My Bigby ambitions for 2009 are to see 150 species while birding on foot around our extended neighborhood. I added White-breasted Nuthatch to my Bigby list on Thursday on a Backyard Bird Count. Go here to read about my Bigby progress.

It was a Big Carbon Footprint weekend because many of our birding trips were to far off destinations, driving hundreds of miles round trip. In our family, most Big Footprint birding adds rare birds for our lists. Aaron and I keep formal year lists of all the birds we see from January 1 to December 31. (Ethan keeps track of year birds in his head.) Both Aaron and Ethan keep formal life lists — all the bird species they’ve ever seen in the wild — but I don’t. (I keep Aaron company with year lists, but large-scale lists just aren’t my thing.)

When Aaron first started a year list in 2008, it helped revitalize his passion for birding. There’s almost always some bird he wants to see in Illinois or surrounding states — something to tear him away from his electronic interests. This Saturday morning we traveled to Lake County, Illinois, to add Black Scoter and Red-throated Loon to our year lists. Then we went to Indiana Dunes State Park for an evening owl walk, but only heard woodpeckers and raccoons. Our Monday trip swept from Kane County, Illinois, south and then east along the Kankakee River, ending the day in Indiana. We missed the Townsend’s Solitaire in Kane County, but found Long-eared Owls, Killdeer, Greater White-fronted Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and Wild Turkeys. Aaron’s 2009 year list almost reached 100 species. Go here for an update on my 2009 list and some details about our trips.

Our regional trips are mostly Medium Footprint expeditions; our Biggest Footprints come on family vacations. For instance, Ethan’s a dedicated life-list person. With more than 400 birds on his life list, he”ll find just a few more life birds in the Midwest. So, Ethan plans our family vacations around birds he wants to see. Last year he planned our summer driving vacation to birding hotspots between Chicago and Frisco, Colorado. The boys found more than 50 life birds on that trip. This year Ethan’s planning a family vacation to California, and he hopes for dozens more lifers.

Can you tell I’m ambivalent about Big Footprint birding? I like that it maintains my boys’ interest in birds, but my own interests are much more local. Aaron and Ethan get interested in local birds early in the year, when the year list is just beginning, or when there’s something rare at our feeders. Local sites also attract attention during spring and fall migration, when year birds and rarities show up not far from our home. Other than that, it takes travel to add birds to their lists.

Bigby birding is best for me. If we have to use a car, I’d rather chase rare birds within our county. This weekend’s short trips included a Thursday afternoon adventure to southern Cook County, a Sunday morning trip to the Chicago Lakefront, and two trips to look for Long-eared Owls in a Chicago neighborhood. These trips were not particularly successful. We missed most target birds and only got distant views of a female Barrow’s Goldeneye on Lake Michigan. These failures shaped our plans for longer trips on Saturday and Monday. At least we tried local places first.

The winds today are from the south. This time of year a warm front may bring snow, but it can also transport early migrants to our neighborhood. Maybe the boys and I can find common ground later in the week if a Ross’s Goose settles at Columbus Park, or a Fox Sparrow stops to search for seed in our backyard. Or maybe I can interest the boys in a new, more locally focused kind of list, perhaps a list just for our town or county. We have bird lists for our block and for nearby Columbus Park. The Listers’ Corner on the Illinois Ornithological Society website may provide more inspiration.

Or maybe we need to relate to birds in completely different ways. Maybe our bird monitoring at Columbus Park could evolve into a stewardship role. Perhaps our volunteer work at the Animal Care League could lead to helping out a bird rescue and rehab center. I guess we’ll try to keep an open mind and see what happens.

Until then, the boys will follow Birdmail to plan our next long trip, while I continue to walk the neighborhood.

 

Learn about Nature in Our Extended Neighborhood February 3, 2009

We plan to learn more about Chicago-area nature at the following February events:

This Saturday, February 7: Wild Things: A Chicago Wilderness Conference for People and Nature. 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at University of Illinois at Chicago. Dad hopes to find out what’s been learned from bird monitoring in the Chicago area. Also, there are programs about how people relate to nature and environmental education in urban areas. Web address:  http://www.habitatproject.org/wildthings2009/

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Saturday and Sunday, February 14-15: Meet the Scientists at AAAS Family Science Days. All events are free to the public and take place in the Riverside Center Exhibit Hall at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 East Wacker Drive. Lots of the programs are about physical sciences, robots, and computers, but on Sunday a Field Museum researcher will talk about Peregrine Falcons. Web address: http://www.aaas.org/meetings/2009/program/fsd/

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Saturday, February 21: Gull Frolic. Starts 8:00 a.m. at the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club at the  North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor, IL.  We should see rare gulls and ducks, in addition to more common winter birds. The best part is that when you get cold, you can go inside the warm building to eat, drink hot chocolate, talk to other birders, and see the exhibits. Web address: http://www.lakecookaudubon.org/Gull_Frolic_Illinois.php

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We also plan to count birds during the Great Backyard Bird Count, February 13-16. The theme this year is “Count for Fun, Count for the Future!” Web address: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/

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Will we see you at one of these events?