Birding at Washington Park
May 15, 2020
When I go to Washington Park, I may find a few guys fishing and a few walkers or cyclists, but usually there aren’t many people around. It’s a shame because the Fountain of Time is a masterpiece, and the lagoons are gorgeous.
In this time of plague, though, Washington Park, which has remained open, is suddenly popular. When J. and I went in the late afternoon, people were barbecuing (couples and single families only), cycling, walking, dog walking, and, in some cases, peering at the trees with binoculars or cameras. No guys fishing that I recall.
Sometimes we see a great blue heron or a white egret, but this time I got my first good look at a different heron — the black-crowned night heron with its chunky build, stooped posture, and distinctive red eyes. They’re found in several places in Chicago — someone took a photo of one atop a bus shelter! — but they’re endangered in Illinois.
All by myself I managed to spot a few warblers, including several male yellowthroats, a palm warbler pretending to be a dandelion, and the back side of a magnolia warbler (plus the front side, but the photo is blurry). When I posed an ID question on the Chicago Audubon Society group page on Facebook, someone commented, “We have a warbler book that has, what I call, the underwear section. They call it the undertail patterns : ).” My warbler was sporting magnolia “underwear.”
A couple tried to tell me about a warbler they’d spotted that must have been rare or unusual, but I missed it and don’t even remember the name.
None of my wood duck platoon photos turned out, unfortunately, but here’s a striking pair.
Canada geese are ubiquitous in Hyde Park, especially near the lagoons. In this group, a few sported easily read neck bands. I reported the bands and got a few details back from the U.S. Geological Survey, of all organizations. Like teenagers, geese apparently stick with their friends.
Washington Park may not be the Magic Hedge or beach at Montrose Harbor, but it wasn’t a bad day after all.
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