Monday, May 30, 2011

Eastern Phoebes, March migration to Northern Illinois

As spring progressed into late March, more birds arrived to the Rockford area of northern Illinois. Many of these birds were waterbirds just stopping for a rest before they moved on to their summer homes (Scaups, Ruddy Ducks, Canvasbacks, Horned Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers, Buffleheads - see my posts from 4/15/2011 to 5/2/2011 to read more about these), but an equal number of birds were here to stay for the summer. These include Pied-billed Grebes, Blue-winged Teals, Wood Ducks, Turkey Vultures, and one of the first songbirds to return were the Eastern Phoebes (Below).
An Eastern Phoebe, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 4/17/2011.
Eastern Phoebes are in the flycatcher family and they are quite widespread throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and can be found as far north and west as the Northern Territories, Canada. Once I became familiar with these Phoebes, they are unmistakeable to identify - with their very catchy song and the fact that they like to perch on open tops of branches, posts, or reeds (Above). They possess a dark head and eyes with a black small bill. They have weak wing bars, a white throat and  smudgy brownish / grayish breast which blends into a yellowish (juveniles) or buff-colored (adults) belly. They also like to wag their tails while they sing or perch.
An Eastern Phoebe, South Pond, Lincoln Park, Chicago; 3/30/2011.
I find Eastern Phoebes one of the easier of the songbirds to photograph as they are very sociable, sit out in open views, and tend to let me get fairly close for good photo ops.

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