Date: 8/7/17 11:27 am
From: 'Bailey, Steven D' <sdbailey...> [ILbirds] <ILbirds-noreply...>
Subject: IBET First fall migrant passerines
Working at my porch table this morning, I was pretty sure I heard a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER call from the big Silver Maple in our back yard. (I also heard a few chips from an unidentified migrant warbler this morning as well). Sure enough, a while later when I thought I heard it again, BGGN calls from Sheryl’s phone brought the bird down over our heads. Since we rarely see them in our yard, or even our neighborhood, and then usually only a few times in the spring, it is hard to get any/many good fall arrival dates for this species. Fall arrival AND departure dates are hard to get for most of the more southerly, summer resident birds like White-eyed Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Yellow-throated, Blue-winged, Prairie, Worm-eating & Prothonotary Warblers & Louisiana Waterthrush, and it is great to be able to identify this “southerly” gnatcatcher as a fall migrant. Although it is a lot easier to identify such birds as migrants at places like Montrose and Jackson Park, where few such birds breed, and uncommon to rare birds pile up on a regular basis, a bird like this is a rare treat away from the lakefront.

If I lived in far southern Illinois, one of the things that I would be doing in July and early August would be going out to see when such “southerly” birds have declined and/or have left. Currently, it’s like they just sort of “fade away” or disappear, especially once they stop singing. They likely do just start wandering south, but banding studies at this time of year could also show “pulses” or marked increases in the species that I mentioned above numbers, at this time of year. There are still a LOT of basic biology that we still know little to nothing about, which amateurs (your average birder) could still contribute to the science of ornithology. Most professional ornithologists have moved on to “big picture” type questions/riddles to solve, and professional ornithological journals rarely publish interesting natural history-type knowledge that is occasionally… but fairly regularly noted by some of today’s move attentive and inquisitive birders.

Our CAROLINA WREN that we have had in our yard all summer (since last winter) and the immediate area of our suburban neighborhood continues to call and sing each day, as I have heard him every day the last week. A ♀ - plumaged RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD has visited our feeder the last two days, and they have also been feeding at our numerous Rose-of-Sharon shrubs and trumpet creeper vines, and no doubt have been to our currently-blooming cardinal flower and Great blue lobelia. We still have at least 4-5 BALTIMORE ORIOLES coming to our grape jelly feeder multiple times daily, along with occasional jelly visits from the House Finches. Good birding!

Steve Bailey
Mundelein (Lake Co.)

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