Wooded Island Bird Walk Report for Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hello to All,

At the start, I warned the birders not to expect too much action on Wooded Island at this time of year; was I ever wrong.

We were joined by Sid, a birder and nature photographer, who read about our walks on the Chicago Audubon Society’s web site. Sid’s photos are attached to this report, adding much enjoyment.

Okay, now for the Big Action on Wooded Island: We were thrilled enough when Tobias and Eric found a BROWN CREEPER near the south fence of the Japanese Garden. I was ready to declare success and head over to the Outer Harbor. But we are creatures of habit. So we walked our usual circuit along the east side of Wooded Island.

great horned owl chased by crowAs we neared the east gate of the Rose Garden, a murder of crows were making quite a ruckus near the South Bridge. Eric and Tobias advanced quickly upon the scene and called back that the crows were harassing an OWL!! We walked in that direction. Suddenly, just twenty feet overhead, a huge owl, with ears tucked back, flew above us, with the crows in hot pursuit. The owl landed in the tree at the northeast corner of the Rose Garden, and there is stayed, regardless of the humans gathered below or the aerial assault by the crows above. We now had a GREAT HORNED OWL with us! What a thrill! It made setting the alarm clock early on a Saturday morning to take a walk in an urban park totally worthwhile.

BIRDERS: 9. Eric, Tobias, Carol, Leo, Jennette, Karin C., Karin D., Pat, Sid.

TIME: 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

PLACES: Wooded Island, Bobolink Meadow, and 66th St. Outer Harbor

WEATHER: Sunny. Cold but with little wind. Temperature 25 – 34 F.


Canada Goose – 250 in East Lagoon at the start. None on the golf driving range. A large squadron flew in to joined us at the Outer Harbor.
Mallard – 6. 2 in the East Lagoon (photo) and 4 in the Outer Harbor.
Redhead – X. Outer Harbor. (photo)
Greater Scaup – X. Outer Harbor.
Lesser Scaup – x. Outer Harbor.
Bufflehead – X. Outer Harbor.
Common Goldeneye – 1 male 59th St. Marina (photo) and increasing numbers in Outer Harbor.
Hooded Merganser – 3. 1 male with 2 females Outer Harbor (photo)
Red-breasted Merganser – 2 females in 59th St. Marina and more in Outer Harbor (photo)
American Coot – 1 only in the Outer Harbor.
Ring-billed Gull – X. Only gull species seen in the Outer Harbor
Monk Parakeet – X. A flock flew over Wooded Island and a single parakeet was flying near LaRabida Hospital, in good voice.
GREAT HORNED OWL – 1. Northeast corner of the Rose Garden. Wooded Island.
BELTED KINGFISHER – 1. Seen and heard flying from the East Lagoon to the West Lagoon.
Downy Woodpecker – 3. A male and female pair on Wooded Island. They must be mates, as they were having a heated argument and chase. Another one was spotted in Bobolink Meadow by Tobias’s sharp eyes. (photo of argumentative male)
American Crow – 8. Never heard them as loud harassing a hawk as they were with the owl. (photos)
Black-capped Chickadee -1. Wooded Island (photo)
BROWN CREEPER – 1. Wooded Island (photo) Eric and Tobias first saw the creeper along the south fence of the Japanese Garden. It moved over to the large oak where the Orchard Orioles successfully nested a few years ago, across the path from the drinking fountain where Sid photographed it in its high ascent along the trunk.
American Robin – 1. Wooded Island
American Tree Sparrow – 10. 2 on Wooded Island. A flock on 8 flying from Bobolink Meadow to the shore of the small island south of Heron Island. (photo)
White-throated Sparrow 1. First Winter (photo)
Dark-eyed Junco – 9. Several were with the American Tree Sparrows. The rest were seen near the Music Bridge.
Northern Cardinal – 15. All were on Wooded Island. When the owl was engaged with the crows, 11 cardinals made an escape from their hiding places in and near the Rose Garden (photo)

Corrections, additions and comments are welcome.

This report will be recorded on eBird as a group report for the Wooded Island Bird Walks.

The Walks are free and open to one and all. They are held year round. Birders always show up on Darrow Bridge at the start times. Newcomers are warmly welcomed.

The Walks start at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday. Birders gather on Darrow Bridge, which is located south of the Museum of Science and Industry. Ample parking is available east of Darrow Bridge and is accessible from South Lake Shore Drive at 58th Street (labeled Science Drive on a small blue street sign). There is a Stop Light at 58th Street. Turn Left (south) at the intersection of Science Drive and Columbia Drive. Go through the parking lot to the west end near Darrow Bridge.

Best of Birding to All,

Patricia Durkin
Chicago Audubon Society Representative
Wooded Island Bird Walks