About time I got the dust shaken off of this blog. To be honest, the long delay from the previous post is just laziness since I have PLENTY of blog fodder from a number of recent birding outings with my brother Ron. Well, maybe not all laziness since there was a big running event earlier in the month, which I’ll be getting to soon. Since my last post was all about a race, figured it would be a good time to break out a bird post. Not just any bird post mind you – a +1 on the birding type of featured bird
Before I go any further, these shots of this bird are sub-par at best from an execution perspective. I totally blame the bird for this! As eluded to earlier, I’ve had the pleasure of birding with my brother at several locations recently. These shots came from Chain O’ Lakes State Park up in Antioch, IL. Chain is one of my favorite State Parks (second to Jubilee) because it never fails to produce good subjects to shoot. If you recall, I’ve already featured inhabitants like Sandhills (link Sandhill Cranes), Egrets (link here), Deer (link Deer) and Teals (link Blue Winged Teal). Linda, the boys and I were staying the weekend at the park for an agility dog show. This left me a whole day to trek the land, so called up Ron who was glad to see what they had to offer. I cannot remember at the moment how far or how long we spent that day, but let’s just say it was a loooong time. We covered the entire perimeter of that park and then some more along the Fox River. I had found some interesting trails on a previous visit and was lucky enough to find them again this time. This particular bird was shot next to what appears to be a gravel pit of some sort. It is also bordered by an archery range which is a little unnerving. A little bit into the trail we noticed some rustling in the underbrush. For the next 20 minutes we hunted for the source, catching glimpses of it from time to time. The following was one of the few luck shots that actually came out from the brush that showed any characteristics at all.
Hit the jump to find out what this intriguing bird is
The interesting thing about this bird is it looked a bit like a sparrow except it was much bigger framed than the usual specimens. It was also a bit rustier in coloring so that led us to more of a Thrasher sighting. That was until it eventually made its way out of the brush and flew a little ways off into a grove of trees. I ended up going into the tangle to see if I could get a better look and maybe a better shot. My brother was patiently watching in case it opted to leave. The first shot above is the fruit of that labor. A poor shot, but this bird isn’t exactly one to take a break. I noticed the beak was not the long bent beak of a Thrasher which really peaked our curiosity. It wasn’t until we were home and checking the reference books that we were able to properly identify this bird as a Fox Sparrow! This is an official new entry on my Birding Life List.
It did end up being a member of the Sparrow family, but Cornell did describe them as large, round bodied Sparrows which fits our observation perfectly. There also appears to be a lot of variability in their coloring but the gray head and brown splotches gave it away. The thick yellowish bill helped as well. How about some interesting facts to close out the post. Looks like they Winter down South in coniferous forest and dense mountain scrub. As you know now, they prefer to kick and poke around the underbrush looking for insects and seeds. Not much interesting beyond that other than they’ve been seen in Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Germany and Italy. I’m sure those well traveled birds are all jealous of their kin who get to live in spectacular Illinois (as in spectacularly politically corrupt and bankrupt Illinois).
That’s all for tonight folks. Don’t worry, you will be hearing a lot about the Chain birding outing thanks to multiple cards full of blog fodder (and not all birds!). Good subjects, spending time outdoors, birding with my brother – can’t get much better than that for a fun day.