Journal archives for March 2022

March 10, 2022

LESSER GOLDFINCH!!, Surpassing 100 species, February recap coming soon!

Hey everyone,

I know I said I would post a February recap, so I’ll get around to that this weekend if anyone wants to read it. Also, last weekend I got my 100th species this year in cook county with 3 Turkey Vultures over the highway in the Palos Area. But that was just on our way to our bigger target, a LESSER GOLDFINCH! I’m pretty positive it’s the first state record of one. In the past week, I also got a Ross’s Goose at the Valley Lo Golf Course, 150 Greater White-fronted Geese over my house, and a Wilson’s Snipe at Techny Basin. Northern Pintail and Gadwall were nice adds as well. Plus a beautiful adult Red-shouldered Hawk on our way to school. Right now I’m sitting at 103 species for my big year, and spring break is coming up fast! I’m really excited to have 2 weeks of free time, and spend much of it birding. Some of my targets are American Woodcock, Eastern Meadowlark, and Snow Goose (although that one has proved rarer than even a Ross’s this year. There have been 4 Ross’s Geese in Cook County this year, which is pretty incredible. However, the only Snow Geese have been flyovers.)

That’s all for now,


Posted on March 10, 2022 04:01 PM by owenbirder13 owenbirder13 | 1 comment | Leave a comment

March 19, 2022

February Birding Full Recap!


February is going to be a bit easier because it’s mostly just catch up from January, plus whatever early migrants come through.


On Friday after school we went to River Park to look for a Northern Pintail that had been spotted there, but to no avail.


I didn’t have an opportunity to go anywhere that wasn’t walking distance, so in the evening I walked over to Mallinkrodt Park, which is about a hundred feet down the street from my house. I ended up seeing a Merlin, which was nice because I haven’t seen them at Mallinkrodt in about a month. I also added my site bird for Mallinkrodt, Common Redpoll. No year birds though.


I went over to Mallinkrodt early in the morning, and got some nice birds including huge flocks of redpolls and a White-throated Sparrow.

After Mallinkrodt, I wasn’t able to go anywhere until mid-afternoon, so we went down to 31st Street Beach to try for the 2 Lapland Longspurs that had been hanging out there for the past 48 hours. We searched for nearly an hour with no luck. Only after we were back home did I see that they had been flushed by dogs a couple hours before we got there. Bummer. No new year birds this weekend.


I knew we had time after school today, so at the end of the day I checked my needs alert for cook county. As soon as I opened it I blinked a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I wasn’t. Of all things, there was a female SURF SCOTER at the harbor mouth at Montrose! Montrose is right on our way home, so it made perfect sense. I was just hoping it was still around. We got there and made our way towards the harbor mouth, with no sign of the Scoter. I was rapidly getting discouraged, but as a last resort decided maybe we should try walking out on the little pier on the west side of the harbor mouth. Best decision of my life. Once we got about halfway out on the pier, my dad says, “Owen! What’s that!?” Pointing to a bird about 5 feet off the pier. “Oh my god…” I whispered as I crouched down to try for a photo. I decided to try to crawl closer on my stomach, and eventually I got to the end of the pier. The Surf Scoter was curious, and was swimming closer and closer until she came within 2 feet of me! It was awesome. Life bird #264!

(78.) Surf Scoter


After school on Tuesday we went back to Montrose to try for a Long-tailed Duck, which we got almost immediately!

(79.) Long-tailed Duck


On Saturday we went down to Crestwood to visit my grandma, and while we were at her house I obtained my first pics this year of a Sharp-shinned Hawk circling overhead!

After that we tried to go to Little Red Schoolhouse for a Purple Finch, but they were closing and I didn’t see anything other than a couple of interesting sparrows.


We went to Kenilworth Beach in the morning to try to look for White-winged Scoters, but the lake was mostly frozen and the ducks we did see were all mergansers or goldeneyes.

Next, we went to Gillson hoping for a better view of the lake, but our best bird was only a male Hooded Merganser.

Our last location for the morning was the Northwestern lagoon, where I got some great photos of a male Hooded Merganser displaying for a female! There was also a coot and some scaup. No year birds at all this weekend either.

2/17 (Thursday):

Okay, a little background info before I start this one: Throughout February, White-winged Crossbills have randomly invaded northeastern Illinois, and finally showed up in Cook at Elmwood Cemetery on Monday. However, it was not convenient for me at all, because it was in western Cook County. But on Wednesday everything changed. Jeff Bilsky texted the group saying that he had a flock of 30+ crossbills at Memorial Park Cemetery, just 5 minutes from my house! So of course that meant on Thursday morning before school, that’s where we were headed. We got there and drove around with eyes open and windows down, but didn’t find any sign of the crossbills.


I had a 4-day weekend, so on Friday I got to try again. We got to MPC around 3:00 and teamed up with Jeff Bilsky, Tom Lally, and Audrey Carl to look for the crossbills. We didn’t have any luck, but I added my other 2 targets for the day, Cedar Waxwing and Yellow-rumped Warbler! I also stopped to look at the continuing Northern Saw-whet Owl which I got back in January. He’s been hanging out on the same branch for over a month!

(80.) Yellow-rumped Warbler
(81.) Cedar Waxwing


In the morning I did a little backyard bird photography, and had a surprise Yellow-rumped Warbler on the birdbath!

Mid-morning I got a text saying that the White-winged Crossbills were still at Memorial Park! We rushed over there and looked around for about half an hour to no avail. Then, when we walked back to where everybody's cars were, I realized everyone was gone. I looked around for a little bit and finally found them, with their lenses pointed up at a spruce. I could hear tons of redpolls calling from that spruce, and I assumed the crossbills were in there. I raised my binoculars and the first bird I set eyes on was a beautiful male White-winged Crossbill! I counted the rest of the flock, and came up with 12 crossbills! I set up my tripod and snapped some pictures of them. I could only find 2 females, the rest were males. I also got great footage of a male eating a spruce cone. Finally! I was so excited. Year bird #82 and life bird #265!

(#82.) White-winged Crossbill

After being home for a while, we went out again around 1:15 to try for a Purple Finch at River Trail Nature Center. I looked through the House Finches with no luck, but I did see a Fox Sparrow and many White-throated Sparrows. I walked down to the river, and found a large flock of American Tree Sparrows feeding along the bank. There was also a Song Sparrow on the opposite bank, which was nice to see. While I was looking at the American Tree Sparrows, I found another kind of sparrow, this one extremely unexpected. A Field Sparrow! It too seemed content on the riverbank and stayed there for the duration of our visit. A great way to end the day, and the first Cook record of this species this year!

(#83.) Field Sparrow


I started the day at Mallinkrodt, and my best bird was a Brown Creeper. After that we went to a park in Glenview where there were multiple Purple Finches being reported, but that place was one of the most birdless places I have ever seen. In the afternoon, we met up with our friends at Wolf Lake, where I got my lifer and year bird, Canvasbacks! We got a ton of other waterfowl as well.

(#84.) Canvasback

While we were driving I just happened to spot 2 male Red-winged Blackbirds, a nice treat. We also made a quick stop to show our friends the Monk Parakeet nests at the skyway. Our next stop was Steelworkers Park, where I successfully picked up my target bird, 3 White-winged Scoters. I also found 3 Great Black-backed Gulls as an added bonus.

(#85.) White-winged Scoter


What a day this was. I started out the morning with some yard birding. I was watching for flyovers when I heard and saw a flock of medium sized passerines fly into my neighbor’s spruces. As soon as I got my binoculars on them, my heart started beating faster. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 25 White-winged Crossbills!! Best yard bird ever!! They flew off after a minute or so, but I did get some photos. I also spotted a first-of-year Killdeer to add to my list.

(#86.) Killdeer

While I was birding in the yard, Matthew Cvetas spotted 3 Northern Shovelers in the North Shore Channel, so I ended up heading over there. I got them almost as soon as I got there.

(#87.) Northern Shoveler


After school on Wednesday my mom was nice enough to drive me over to the North Ave. Turning Basin, where I got my first Pied-billed Grebe of the year.

(#88.) Pied-billed Grebe


We went down to Rainbow Beach in the morning to look for Snow Buntings, but sadly didn’t find any. After that we met up with my friend Simon at Park No. 566, but didn’t find much there either. After that we went to Steelworkers Park, where I got my one year bird, a Horned Grebe.

(#89.) Horned Grebe

Finally, we went to Wolf Lake, where Simon picked out a Tundra Swan amongst the other swans, as well as some nice ducks and an eagle.


We went down to Little Red Schoolhouse around noon, where I finally got 2 Purple Finches! We first found a female and then a beautiful male! I also had my first grackle of the year fly over, and picked out 6 Brown-headed Cowbirds amongst the hordes of Red-wings. We also walked around and found a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers in the woods! Not new, but still exciting.

(#90.) Purple Finch

(#91.) Common Grackle
(#92.) Brown-headed Cowbird

Red-wings were everywhere today, and I saw tons as were driving home. When we got home I went over to Mallinkrodt, highlighted by 2 singing male Red-wings, A calling Northern Flicker, and a Merlin.

Well, that's it for February! March has gotten off to an awesome start with 13 year birds already. I cannot wait for migration season!!

Have fun birding,


Posted on March 19, 2022 09:17 PM by owenbirder13 owenbirder13 | 4 comments | Leave a comment


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