Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Goose in a tree, Towhee and me!

Flirting, nesting and fighting seem to be the main activities of birds during the mating and migration season. This morning I stopped at North Pond, which is near Lincoln Park Zoo, and witnessed several interesting displays, along with a Canada goose striking a pose at the top of a truncated tree.

That’s right; I saw a goose in a tree.

I did some research to find out why a goose would hang out in a tree, but I didn’t find any. I did learn that older, wiser geese will goose-nap goslings from younger, less experienced geese who the elder geese judge to be unfit parents and that the birds copulate while the female is submerged in water, along with plenty of other information, but found nothing about geese in trees. Maybe it’s not as unusual as I think?

Prior to observing this peculiarly behaving goose, I watched as two other geese, some red-winged blackbirds and a grackle all bickered (I think the grackle started it).A male house sparrow mimicked the creeping style of a Downy woodpecker on the side of a tree. Starlings flew back and forth with bunches of grass and sticks in their mouths. I saw a female house sparrow nestled in the ground, apparently taking a snooze. She seemed quite groggy; I hope she was not ill. I could not tell if she was or not, and I certainly didn’t want to remove her from her home without knowing for certain.

Earlier, while downtown on bird vigilante duty, I encountered another odd male house sparrow; it seemed dwarfish in size, had a lighter color back than I usually see, and it was bobbing its tail as if it were an Eastern Phoebe or Hermit Thrush! I observed it for a moment to see if it was hurt, but it flew off. In any case, I’ve never seen such a short house sparrow! No injured birds required my assistance this morning, although I thought for a moment that an Eastern Towhee needed me.


I saw the bird on the ground after flying and hitting its noggin; I slowly crept toward it, but it flew somewhere I couldn’t reach it. Several minutes later, I saw it flying above two talking ladies, and got some great looks at this ground-foraging, uniquely colored sparrow as it hopped and flew from tree branch to cement slab, etc, etc,. I felt worried about it, but there was no way to catch it. About a half an hour after that, an Eastern Towhee popped in near the Pritzer Pavilion, and I think it was the same guy, due to the proximity in location. This time, he did not seem discombobulated as he flitted from tree to tree and tried to find something to eat in the ground. Dozens of white-throated sparrows pecked at the grass nearby, and starlings flew to and from their nests made in the Pavilion’s crevices. The only bird I found during rescue was a deceased white-throated sparrow, but I did manage a better photo of a very alive white-throated when I was at North Pond:

Oh, but there were still more birds to see! A red-headed woodpecker flashed its vibrant colors as it flew around near the bird feeders. I excitedly pointed my binoculars in its direction, only to be distracted by a Black Crowned Night Heron that was hurriedly walking along the cement pier. These birds can still for hours on end, seemingly, and I’ve never seen one do anything remotely exciting, so I focused on it. Great Blue Herons are magnificent and slightly eerie looking due to their prehistoric appearance, Green Herons are just petite and sweet, but BCNHs are like the mummies of the bird world—that’s how still they usually are, and they usually take one very slow step at a time, as if their joints needed to be oiled. So, to finally see one fly and hop about made my day. However, I wish I had spent more time looking at the woodpecker instead of taking bad pictures of it, because I couldn’t relocate it after drooling over the BCNH.

If that weren’t enough, I also observed a few Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, a Hermit Thrush, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers and my very first Caspian Tern, an absolutely stunning gull-like bird. It circled the pond repeatedly, allowing for great looks with its white body and orange bill contrasted against the blue sky.


As I left the pond, this Ring-Billed Gull crossed my path. I love getting a shot of a happening bird who’s on the move….

1 comment:

  1. Awesome BCNH sighting! I love how you describe it as a mummy - very appropriate. :)