Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Belted Kingfishers

A winter creek in Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 1/30/11.

A floating Ring-billed Gull, North Pond, Chicago, IL; 10/30/10.

Two shorebirds, the Ring-billed Gull and the Herring Gull are found year round in northern Illinois, espaecially off Lake Michigan and along the major waterways of the Rock, Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. But they can also be found inland from time to time near other water sources. I've seen them both at Rock Cut State Park and Nygren Wetlands Preserve. The Ring-billed Gull will call Lake Michigan a year round home, but in the summer months will migrate north into Canada. In winter months, it will be found throughout much of the lower 48 states, except for the northern plains states, and the Rocky Mountain states.

A Herring Gull resting on the rocky shores of Lake Superior, Upper Michigan; 5/26/07.
Another gull that will sopend year round in our parts and throughout much of the Great Lakes region, is the Herring Gull (Above).  these Gulls will also spend yer round along the Northern atlantic coasts, but in summer they will generally be spread throughout Canada and Alaska. In winter they can be found throughout the eastern half of the nation as well as alng the Pacific coastal states. They will avoid the mountains (Rockies and Appalachians).

I've been chasing this belted Kingfisher at Rock Cut State Park for over a year and finally caught it in my viewfinder a couple of weeks ago, Rockford, IL; 3/27/11.
Another year round bird that will be found along river banks and both freshwater lake shore lines and ocean coasts is the Belted Kingfisher. These unique birds will be found anywhere there is fish to be caught. They will be found year round from coast to coast save for the upper plains and southwest. In the summer they will migrate north into Canada and Alaska, and in winter they will migrate south to the southwest and into Mexico. Belted Kingfishers are very striking with its blue body and shaggy crest and white breast and collar, and very long bill. The females will sport a reddish band across its chest and sides, while the male will sport a blue band across its chest. Ever since I spotted a particular Belted Kingfisher at Rock Cut, I've been trying to get its photo. It seems that I am always a beat behind.  Several times I got an open view of this bird, only to have it fly away the instance I lift my camera to focus. Each time it flies away with its chattering call - as if it is laughing at me. This skittish bird is out of sight whenever I get within photo distance.  And it always takes off laughing at me as if to say, "You'll never take a picture of me, haha!" I finally got it in my viewfinder just a couple of weeks ago and immediately after I snapped the photo it took off flying, chattering and disappearing into the tree line.


Chesney said...

How weird you posted this today...yesterday I had a gull at my feeder believe it or not. I have never seen that. I looked it up and it was a herring gull...I didn't even know we had them in our neck of the woods (let alone at a feeder)! Just goes to show you that you always need to be prepared for new visitors (the one time I had my camera battery charging of course)! :) I love that first is so striking!

Anonymous said...

I lived in Geneva, Il and seldom see blue jays. What can I do to attract them? Also is the population of jays decreasing?