Thursday, March 27, 2014

Birdlog #8 - 3-27-14: Birding at a lek during migration...

... Rocks.

You're probably wondering what a lek is (unless you're an obsessive bird nerd who knows every obscure term ever used anywhere). A lek is where adult male birds can do courtship displays, and females will come and watch. I think they're only used by plovers, grouse and some birds-of-paradise.

Anyway, here's the list:

  • 5 Canada Geese
  • 2 Mallards
  • 1 Turkey Vulture
  • 3 Bald Eagles
  • 1 Red-tailed Hawk
  • 20-30 Sandhill Cranes - The first I've seen in Illinois!
  • 11 Killdeer
  • 1 Peregrine Falcon
  • 1 Blue Jay
  • 2 American Robins
  • 1 European Starling
  • 1 Cedar Waxwing - possible
  • 3 House Sparrows
The species that really stick out to me are: Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane and Peregrine Falcon. The Killdeer were the only ones actually using the lek, but there were other birds around. Here's the really crazy part: We saw all of those birds in twenty minutes!

And once again, I didn't have my camera with me - It's outta battery, anyway.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Monthly Bird #3: Black-capped Chickadee

Who hasn't heard the ever-so familiar song of a Black-capped Chickadee?

Black-capped Chickadee, adult.
"It's so adorable!" Due to the oversized head and curiosity about everything, the bird that most people know and love is the Black-capped Chickadee. With a black cap and neck, gray back and buffy (tannish) sides, this species is easy to recognize. Where its range overlaps with the Carolina Chickadee (the Black-cap's slightly smaller cousin), these two are easily confused and almost impossible to tell apart without hearing their different songs.

Carolina Chickadee, adult.
Black-capped Chickadees' brains actually grow and shrink throughout the season, due to its habit of caching food (taking from plants/feeders and storing it for later). And the more dees in a call, the higher the threat. There's a dominant hierarchy within flocks. Some birds are called "winter floaters" 'cause they don't belong to one flock. These individuals might have a different rank within each flock that they spend time in.

Black-capped Chickadee range.
Ranging from the northern Pacific coast to the northern Atlantic coast, the Black-capped Chickadee is a familiar sight in and even sometimes outside its range! It is commonly found in deciduous and mixed forests, open woods, parks, willow thickets, cottonwood groves, and disturbed areas. Happy birding!

-Mr. Bird