As I sit her basking in the warm sun and wondering if lipstick has a shelf-life it occurred to me I could be cranking out a post. I could also simply sit back and enjoy my birthday … taking in the rays and yes wondering if lipstick goes bad. Since hitting retirement age takes a lot of the excitement of birthdays away (every day is like a birthday ha!) The latter seems like a waste. A post it is!
Today’s featured feathered friend comes to us thanks to two trips to Chain O’ Lakes State Park near Spring Grove IL. The first was back in June 2019 (almost like yesterday) and the other, well it was back in June 2017 (as he looks away sheepishly). There is a reason I added the older shots in – more to that in a bit.
Hit the jump to read a bit more about our flashy birdie.
For those not familiar with our brightly colored bird, he is a an American Redstart. This brightly colored warbler is one we get to enjoy throughout the breeding season in the broke state of Illinois – most of the good looking Warblers are smart enough to just migrate through giving us a limited window to enjoy their beauty.
I’ve always appreciated the Redstart for sticking around and letting me enjoy their festive feathering. They are slightly larger than the norm for the Warbler family in the range of 4.5-5 inches. The males (see above) sport a range of colors from the overall black and white base to the accents in a red/yellow gradient scattered across the wings, chest and tail. The females have a more subdued pallet with browns, whites and flaunting yellow accents. They can be a bit elusive and when you do come upon them, they tend to be more fidgety than a child hopped up on Pixie Sticks (do they still make those?) .
Back on that June 2019 outing, Ron and I were birding the Chain when we spotted a male Redstart chatting it up and pretty much hanging around excessively in one particular area. Usually we see them, get a few chances to get it in the tin before it moves deeper into the woods. Luck of the draw if any shots are worth saving at the end of the day. The specimen we encountered that day would pop out, pose a bit, maybe dash away only to return in the same general area a few minutes later.
Odd for sure. Did appreciate the additional chances to get it the tin. Eventually the riddle was solved. I happened to look up and noticed an occupied nest situated in a crook of a branch. Our male Redstart was looking after his mate and future offspring. Took a few quick shots at the expecting mom and then slowly backed away to to relieve any stress The Beast may have been causing. Makes you wonder about all the things you likely miss over the course of the day – we had walked back and forth down that section of the road several times and we would have never been the wiser had the idiosyncrasies of the male not caught our attention.
Okay, now going to jump back to the June 2017 series. Since I didn’t have full shots of the female on the nest, thought I’d supplement the later shots with better views. The shot above and the rest in this post were taken in a nearly identical location at Chain. If you need a Redstart, I can just about guarantee you can get that checked off your list by going to the pond/swamp down along the campground road – the one that leads to the youth camping area.
The stagnant water probably produces a ton of insects there giving it ample nourishment. There is competition as Chain is loaded with a variety of Flycatchers. That is where the Redstart’s unique hunting habits come into play.
Where most of our common Flycatchers will simply sit on a branch or stick near water and wait for opportunities to present itself, the Redstart takes a more active approach. According to the reference books and Cornell’s site, these birds leverage their flamboyant coloring on wings and tail to startle insects into taking flight.
Left this last shot in just to give you feel for the color pattern on their backside – looks like an evil face with flames coming out of its grinning face (well, that is what it looks like to me although I am a Halloween guy so your mileage may very hehehe) – and that isn’t even the side they use to flush the insects. Last little tidbit to mention before wrapping this up. The male is known to have two mates at the same time. Once the first female has laid her clutch he will head off and find a skinny young thing to have a romp in nest with – them male Redstarts must have really good divorce lawyers.
Now back to pondering what types of investments to make as the world begins to exit out of pandemic – in case you were wondering about that whole lipstick thing. Guessing women are going to have to start thinking about getting ready for work and hitting the nightclubs again… teeth whiteners might be another good investment… wait a minute… probably shouldn’t be telling people my great ideas ha!