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Wooded Island Bird Walk Report

Submitted by Jennie Strable on Sun, 11/06/2016 - 4:45pm

Event date:

Saturday, November 5, 2016 - 8:00am 



Hello to All,

Bird species in Jackson Park was again low in count for the second week. The human species made up for the deficit in a wonderful way.

When we arrived in the Japanese Garden we discovered a young couple who were as shy as a pair of Ovenbirds.  They kept their distance and quietude. As we were leaving, the male, Sean, asked Kevin to take a photo of himself and the female, Taylor. I was nearby and heard Sean say that he had just proposed marriage to Taylor and asked Kevin to take a photo with his phone camera. Of course I immediately called out the news to the birders and we quickly gathered around the young betrothed couple, who were absolutely charming and very happy.  Their joy was contagious.

The female birders circled Taylor to ask questions and express their excitement. We examined her enormous diamond ring and nail polish, etc. while the males, Sean and Kevin, stood behind the circle in that bemused and baffled way males display when females are conversing.

We left the love birds alone in the Garden. When they emerged, the birders were near the Yoko Ono Sky Landing installation. We chatted again and expressed Best Wishes to the couple and pledged to meet again, same time next year.  In the forty years of weekly bird walks, this is a first: to be able to celebrate a marriage proposal and acceptance.  You never know what awaits you on our walks.

The second great human encounter was with a fisherman named “Bug.” We all know Bug. He is the fellow who will ask the birding group if we have “seen any pterodactyls lately?” How he came to be called “Bug” is a bit of a tale. It starts with “Junior”, then evolved into “June bug”, then shortened up to just plain “Bug.” He is a longtime acquaintance and guardian of Karin Cassel over many years on Wooded Island. 

Our “pterodactyls” of the season has been our group of Great Blue Herons. The successful nesting in Oak Wood Cemetery nearby is a First Record that I can recall.  The adults and young have claimed the lagoons as a favored fishing ground.  Amidst all the troubles and changes that have befallen Wooded Island, their presence has been a saving grace.

MYSTERY BIRD: There was a sighting of a small bird in Bobolink Meadow by three of us. It was on top of a brush along the water’s edge.  The bird was about 5 ½ long.  It was dark to medium gray on top from head to tail.  The underside was cleanly white.  It had two white sets of wing bars.  Tail colors were uniform gray like the back and head.  We only had a few seconds to see it a few yards away, before it dropped down and hid.  It was the size of a Junco but did not have the white outer tail feathers of a Junco that is seen in flight.The date range doesn’t allow for it, but my first impression was a flycatcher. It was clean like a Least Flycatcher.

BIRDERS:      6          (1) Tracy W., (2) Karin D., (3) Karin C., (4) Kevin V., (5) Renate G., (6) Pat D.       

TIME:             8:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.         

PLACES:        Columbia Basin (North Lagoon), Wooded Island, South shore of East Lagoon, East & West Lagoon, and Bobolink Meadow. Distance 2.0 miles.

WEATHER:    Sunny. Temperature 51 - 68 F., Winds SW 5 - 10 mph, Humidity 82%, Dew Point 45 degrees



X = commonly seen and/or not counted.

  1. Canada Goose  X     Small flocks on water and in flight,calling.

  2. Mallard  9     Occasional couples in flight.

A very pale, perhaps hybrid or leucistic solo bird was first seen in the Columbia Basin (North Lagoon).

  1. Great Blue Heron  8

  2. Cooper's Hawk  1     Lurking around favored hunting grounds, SE of Wooded Island 's South Bridge.

  3. Red-tailed Hawk  1     Fly to the north end of Wooded Island from the east. Perched briefly on several tree top center branches.

  4. Ring-billed Gull  X     Occasional solo fly overs.

  5. Belted Kingfisher  1     Male

  6. Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     tree trunk NW of Music Bridge. Looked like a male with lots of Red-bellied Red on head and nape.

  7. Downy Woodpecker  1     Male

  8. Northern Flicker  1

  9. American Crow  5

  10. Black-capped Chickadee  3

  11. American Robin  1

  12. European Starling  4

  13. Northern Cardinal  1

  14. American Goldfinch  17


This is a group report, with many birders contributing to the list. Most of the birds were seen by at least several or all of the birders.

Corrections, additions and comments are welcome.

Recordings are not used to attract birds.

This report will be recorded on eBird as a group report for the Wooded Island Bird Walks.

The Walks are free and open to one and all. They are held year round.Newcomers are warmly welcomed. 

Darrow Bridge: Darrow Bridge has been barricaded by the Department of Transportation. No one can cross. A high black metal iron fence has been erected on all four sides. It appears that the fence will remain in place until Darrow Bridge is completely rebuilt, which could be several years away. The Bridge has been deemed unsafe.

The Walks start at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Birders meet in the southwest corner of the East Parking Lot.

Please note: The Wednesday morning Walks have been decommissioned. An informal group often meets, but the start time varies and the distance traveled can be curtailed.

Metered parking is available in the East Parking Lot that is accessible from South Lake Shore Drive at 57th Street (labeled Science Drive on a small blue street sign). There is a Stop Light at 57th Street. Make a turn at the Stop Light towards the Museum. Turn Left (south) at the intersection of Science Drive and Columbia Drive. Go through the parking lot to the west end.

Parking and Lots: While restoration is ongoing, heavy equipment has taken over half of the east parking lot, off of South Lake Shore Drive, and half of the southwest parking lot which has an entrance off of Hayes Drive (63rd St.) and just east of Cornell Drive. Birders will be able to find metered parking in both lots. The East Parking Lot is preferred. There is also unmetered parking along Stony Island Avenue from 56th to 59th Street.

Best of Birding to All,                    

Patricia Durkin

Earlier Event: October 29
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: November 12
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report