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Wooded Island Bird Walk Report

Submitted by Jennie Strable on Tue, 04/07/2015 - 2:52pm

Event date:

Saturday, April 4, 2015 - 8:00am to 10:00am 



Hello to All,

It was cold and windy today, but the constant sunrays helped to endure the time outdoors.

Our visitor from California, Robert Hansen, arrived early for the Walk. As he turned off of Lake Shore Drive, he noticed a Ring-billed Gull tangled up in fishing line and hanging from the crown of a tree that was near the 1893 stone building. Rob could not get to the branch to bring it down to release the gull. So he drove to a drugstore and purchased a heavy lock and rope.

Upon his return, Rob swung the lock anchored rope up to the branch. Even with this clever and valiant effort, he could not snag the branch. A petite woman, who was walking her petite dog, came along. After comprehending the predicament, this agile female climbed up in the tree and was able to bring the branch down for Rob to reach.

The gull had a lot of fishing line wrapped around its body. Rob and the dog walker were able to unravel the line and release the gull. One wing was a bit gimpy in movement, but the gull flew to the lagoon and took a swim. Rob, who works as a field biologist, believed that no wing bones were broken, but the soft tissues were fatigued from its prolonged struggle to free itself from the fishing line.

After hearing that exciting tale, we proceeded to walk around the North Lagoon/Basin and on to Wooded Island. We encountered “Mother Goose” and her mate on the Museum steps.   She posed nicely forclose-up photos. Ever since we came to know Mother Goose, a late bloomer, last summer, with her mate and two goslings, she has become a celebrity.   I think that she knows we take an interest in her wellbeing. There are worse things that one can be called than an Anthropomorphic Birder.

Jane Masterson reported seeing eighteen Monk Parakeets at the stick nest near the golf shack, around 8:30 a.m. But the parakeets has all left to forage upon her return at 10 a.m. Our group did not hear them fly overhead on our Walk.

Highlights this morning was the sighting of an Eastern Meadowlark in the middle of the golf driving range. Eric and Tobias G. found it. The Meadowlark flew over us and landed along the path in Bobolink Meadow. It then perched in a sapling briefly before flying south.

Another highlight was observing Young John F, observing a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,at eye level and just a few feet away. The bird was perched in the open-armed pine tree near the knoll in the Japanese Garden. It was a WOW! moment for John F., and for me, to see the delightful sense of recognition on John’s face at this wonderfully colorful migrant.

 BIRDERS:      12.       (1)Bruce Mc – new birder to Wooded Island;  (2) Robert Hansen,  Environmental Biologist from California and Gull Rescuer;  (3) Barbara and (4) Bill S., annual Wooded Island birders who spend summers on Washington Island, WI, winters in Florida and in between in Chicago;  (5) Young John and his father (6) Dan F., recently returned from a long stay in California;   (7) Jennie S.,  (8) Eric and (9) Tobias G.,  (10) Karin D.,  (11) Karin C., and (12) Pat D.

TIME:             8:00 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.         

PLACES:        Wooded Island and Bobolink Meadow, Lakefront and Outer Harbor.

WEATHER:    Sunny. Temperature 37 F. Winds gusting from the SW 10 – 15 mph


X = commonly seen and/or not counted.

  1. Canada Goose – X. “Mother Goose” with the white head and neck (neck tag C126) posed for us on the Museum wall. Her mate (neck tag C136) was nearby on the wall. (photos attached)

  2. Wood Duck – 2. Male/Female. Southeast shore of Wooded Island.

  3. Mallard – 4.

  4. Northern Shoveler – 2. Males. East Lagoon.

  5. Gr/Lesser Scaup – 1. West Lagoon. Reported by Karin C.

  6. Bufflehead – 2. Male/Female. East Lagoon.

  7. Common Goldeneye – 2. Male/Female. East Lagoon.

  8. Hooded Merganser – 2. Male/Female. East Lagoon.

  9. Red-breasted Merganser – 8. Two males/Four Females. North Lagoon. Two in Marina.

  10. Pied-billed Grebe – 1.

  11. Horned Grebe – 10. Lagoons. Lake and Outer Harbor.

  12. Double-crested Cormorant – 1. Fly over.

  13. Black-crowned Night Heron – 2. Around Wooded Island.

  14. Cooper’s Hawk – 1. Japanese Garden area.  Reported by Karin C.

  15. Hawk Species – High overhead. Reported by Jennie S.

  16. Falcon Species – in flight over Bobolink Meadow. Possible Merlin. Reported by Eric and Tobias G.

  17. Belted Kingfisher – 1. Southeast side of Wooded Island. Spotted by Jennie S.

  18. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 5. Wooded Island.

  19. Downy Woodpecker – 2.

  20. Hairy Woodpecker – 2. Male/Female. Checking out a tree hole at the southeast end of Wooded Island. Downy Woodpecker nearby.

  21. Northern Flicker – 3.

  22. Eastern Phoebe – 2.

  23. American Crow – 4.

  24. Black-capped Chickadee – 2. Rose Garden area. Wooded Island.

  25. Hermit Thrush -1. Possible sighting by Eric G.

  26. American Robin – X.

  27. European Starling – X.

  28. Yellow-rumped Warbler – 1. In oak tree near drinking fountain on Wooded Island.

  29. Song Sparrow – 8.

  30. Northern Cardinal – 3.

  31. Red-winged Blackbird – 1.

  32. Eastern Meadowlark – 1. Driving Range.

  33. Brown-headed Cowbird – 2.

This is a group report, with many birders contributing to the list. Most of the birds were seen by a least several or all 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. Birders always show up near Darrow Bridge at the start times. Newcomers are warmly welcomed. 

Noteon 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 more than a year. The Bridge has been deemed unsafe.

Birders meet in the East parking lot, and walk around the North Lagoon/Basin and across the south steps of the Museum to get to Wooded Island.

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

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 east of Darrow Bridge and 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.

Note on 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 lot is the preferred one, as it is located nearest the Darrow Bridge. The southwest parking lot would require that the entire Wooded Island be walked northward, and to cross the North Bridge to reach Darrow Bridge.  There is also unmetered parking along Stony Island Avenue from 58th to 56th Street.

Best of Birding to All,                    

Patricia Durkin

Earlier Event: March 28
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: April 11
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report