Monday, May 16, 2011

White-crowned Sparrows; Early May Migration through Northern Illinois

A White-crowned Sparrow, Espenscheid Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/1/2011.
The first week of May and finally nice weather brought an entourage of migrating birds into Northern Illinois. After a cold slow moving April, the May Migration started with a bang. The first week of May brought in 4 new Lifers for me and 28 FOYs. In fact, the very first day of May I spent a couple of hours in Espenscheid Forest Preserve near Cherry Valley, just southeast of Rockford, I counted over 50 different bird species - a good day's birding for me. Then a week later (May 8) I counted over 60 species at Rock Cut State Park in my 5 hour hike.

Early May new arrivals included several types of sparrows [White-crowned Sparrows (Above), Lark Sparrows, and Swamp Sparrows], a few thrushes [Veery, Swainson's Thrush (Lifer #286), Wood Thrushes, Louisiana Waterthrush (Lifer#285)], Bank Swallows, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, Ovenbirds, Warbling Vireos, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, House Wrens, a couple more Sandpipers [Upland and Solitary], several Flycatchers [Least, Great-crested, Eastern Kingbirds], and a boatload of Warblers [Tennessee, Palm, American Redstarts, Northern Parulas, Magnolias, Common Yellowthroats, Yellows, Prothonotary, Black & Whites, and Nashvilles]. These are the new arrivals that I either saw or heard.  I am sure there were a lot more that I missed or couldn't identify ... yet.

White-crowned Sparrows invaded my yard during the first week of May, Rockford, IL; 5/3/2011.
The White-throated Sparrows finally left my yard on May 1, to go to their summer homes further north, but were immediately replaced by dozens of White-crowned Sparrows (Above) who appeared on May 1 and stayed for more than two weeks. They became the 32nd different species of bird that has appeared in our yard this year.

White-crowns are just one of the new arrivals that will only stay for a brief visit in Northern Illinois before they continue their spring migration to their summer homes in the far north of Canada and Alaska and the Rocky Mt. States. Other temporary visitors from the list above include: Tennessee Warblers, Palm Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Swainson's Thrush, and the Solitary Sandpiper. The others on the list will call Northern Illinois their summer home.

A White-crowned Sparrow gleening food from a sandy bank of the Kishwaukee
River, Espenscheid Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/4/2011.
A couple very identifying traits of the White crowns are their black and white striped crowns, very broad white eyebrow, and their bright orange bill which contrasts with its plain gray nape, throat and underparts. Their rumps and flanks are a light brown, while thier wings are darker brown with white wingbars.

1 comment:

Chesney said...

I love how striking the brown, black, gray and white are together! The sparrows have been taking over my feeder again lol