Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Who Cooks For You?

Over the past couple of days, I've come to the realization that this winter may have fundamentally altered the way my body perceives temperature. Two mornings in a row, I have walked outside while it was still below zero and thought, "Hmm, feels nice today!" only to check my phone and find that it was about twenty degrees colder than I thought. You can get used to just about anything, I suppose.

I wound up with some time to check out a few spots in Kane County this afternoon. The sun was shining and I swear it was warmer than the thermometer read, so I figured it would be worth the trip even if I didn't add anything for the year. I wandered around Johnson's Mound for a little while, looking for one owl and coming up with another. A hooting Great-horned Owl gave me quite the surprise in the middle of the day. A couple noisy Hairy Woodpeckers were also enjoyable here. Nelson Lake was pretty quiet so I didn't stay there long, and I got some nice looks at Lapland Longspurs in with many Horned Larks along Seavey Road. No Snow Buntings today.

I had time for one more stop and decided to hit a forest preserve where I had never been before, hoping for a Red-headed Woodpecker. There was quite a bit of activity from the time I opened the car door. A group of chickadees was clearly upset and scolding something nearby. I hoped they were leading me to an owl of sorts, but instead got a nicely posing Cooper's Hawk with that textbook intense expression.

Cooper's Hawk
Kane Co, IL
February 11, 2014

The woods were alive with enough tapping to make things interesting. I saw quite a bit of activity too, though most of it turned out to be squirrels. A lot of the tapping turned out to just be White-breasted Nuthatches and chickadees going at little branches, but then the woodpeckers started popping up. Yet, for all my looking, there was no Red-headed to be found. Just Downies and Red-bellies. In a couple instances, I just briefly saw the red flare of the crest on a couple Red-bellied and got my hopes up. But, a woodpecker with red on the head does not equal a Red-headed Woodpecker. After standing still for a few moments, this one plopped down boldly just a few feet in front of me.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Kane Co, IL
February 11, 2014

Cedar Waxwings lit nearby, American Tree Sparrows chattered, and the woods were overall alive with activity. Then, a brief lull in the noise left everything still and quiet. In that moment, a call came ringing through the forest, clear as day: "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?" Woah! Barred Owl! In the middle of the day! Not what I was looking for, but a welcome year bird nonetheless! This is the fifth time I've had a Barred call out in the middle of the day in Illinois, crazy.

ABA: 129

Illinois: 97

Kane, IL: 55