From the Archives: Illinois’ First (and Still Only) Hepatic Tanager

A shorter version of this account was published in the Spring 1982 edition of the Illinois Audubon Bulletin.

Exotic birds? Unusual birds? Probably none so unusual ever crossed our path as the one that appeared in our midst on November 23, 1981.

“Hepatic,” it means “relating to the liver” or, in this case, liver-colored. Not a great start, but a great story…..

My parents, Loraine and Eunice Funk, were preparing to haul an animal or two from our dairy farm in Beverly, Illinois, to Schweigert’s at Tremont for the annual Illinois Invitational Jersey Sale. At the time we were milking about 80 cows, but a good portion of our income was from the sale of breeding stock, hence the trip to Tremont. The truck was all loaded (including cows, if I remember correctly) and parked in front of the garage. Uncle Bob, my younger brother, and I had been in the milkhouse, and as we exited, he asked, “What’s that bird in the hackberry?” Bob wasn’t really a birder, except by osmosis, being the son of my birding parents and my brother, but he noticed “something different.” I saw immediately that it was “something unusual” – larger than a House Sparrow, and mostly orange-yellow. After just a few seconds it flew around the west side of the old barn and landed in one of the evergreen trees on the north side of the barn lot.

I had no binoculars at the barn. What I did have was a .22 rifle with an 8x scope, so I grabbed it from the truck and viewed the bird (perhaps to his alarm…who knows?). A brief look told me it was likely a tanager (right size, shape, and bill type) and most likely a Summer Tanager, with no sign of black on the wings. The bird then flew a short distance to the magnolia tree next to the garage. I managed to dash inside the house and get my parents’ attention, and they saw the bird for just a few seconds before it flew away. I saw it again very briefly later in the day flying around a pile of gates near the solar barn. [The solar barn was a combination calf barn and hay barn with the south roof panels replaced with clear plastic, with a flat-black-painted insulated attic. The fan from the grain dryer pulled air across this attic, warming the air by 15-30 degrees F and allowed us to do most of our grain drying for several years without using propane. This was designed primarily by my brother, Dr. Ted Funk, retired Agricultural Engineering staff from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign.]

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

That evening I called Dave Bohlen at the Illinois State Museum to report. When I told him I believed the bird to be a summer tanager, and gave a description, his response was, “Had you considered hepatic?” Uh, no. Why should I?” I had seen one Hepatic Tanager in my life, and that it was in southeast Arizona, one of the few places in the country where they “belong,” in April of 1971. No Hepatic Tanager had ever been reported east of the Mississippi River. Dave’s reasoning, however, was that since NO tanager should be in Illinois that late in the fall, one species was about as likely as another and none should be excluded. I began reading about Hepatic Tanagers in the Bent Life History Series and grew rather excited. The bird had NOT really looked like a Summer Tanager, and certainly not like a Scarlet, and it looked awfully “comfortable” in that evergreen (Hepatic Tanagers spend most of their time in evergreens in the mountain southwest.) One thing I noted in the literature was the “chuck” call note typical of the species.

The next morning at daybreak I was scouring the premises for the tanager. As I roamed the barnyard and house vicinity, I occasionally uttered what I presumed to be a reasonable imitation of the “chuck” call note. When something “chucked” back at me from under the apple tree on the west end of their garden I nearly had a heart attack! Sure enough, there was the tanager, eating a frozen apple from the tree (Jonathan variety) in the garden. We watched it through the telescope for a few minutes before running for the telephone. Dave’s reaction from Springfield was “I’ll be there in an hour. Put out some fruit!” I’m glad no one got in his way during the drive, because he didn’t take much longer than an hour to cover the 80 miles between Springfield and Beverly.

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

In addition to calling Dave, I’m pretty sure I called Pat Ward, Bob Randall and a couple of people from Quincy. The word spread from there. There’s no telling what a mob we would have had with today’s network!

The story of the rest of the week is well-done in my mother’s memoir, Grandma Married a Birder. She relates what it was like to fix Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by visiting birders, one of whom stayed for Thanksgiving dinner, and try to keep the coffee pot full and the cookie plate filled as between 80 and 90 individuals came from surrounding states. There were people waiting when we came home from church on Sunday, and some of them stayed for lunch.

I don’t think the neighbors were the least bit surprised by the commotion. Our reputation preceded us.

Many of the sightings were made at Granville Hill’s yard, about half a mile northeast of the Funk farm, as their apple tree had a bumper crop of frozen fruit, which I think were Golden Delicious. The best pictures, including the one on our wall at home, were taken at Hill’s. The bird made a brief appearance in our yard, allowing us to add it to the “yard list.”

Nearly everyone who came did eventually see the bird except one couple who were extraordinarily impatient, and of course those who didn’t come until the following Monday, as was not seen after Sunday when the weather turned bad; the bird either succumbed or decided it had had enough of Illinois and headed south.

Postscript

Birding in our family was a group project. My parents pretty much had us out every weekend during migration, plus we were “out” all the time when we were working. One of my younger sister Mary’s most memorable expeditions was when she was about 7, and we climbed a bluff in Calhoun County to see a Hooded Warbler. I carried her (she is 12 years my junior) a good portion of the way up the slope. Her comment was “I wish I was home in my own little bed!”

My grandkids live down the road, and they are the 8th generation on the property, but we no longer farm. One of the neighbors does the farming, and there has been no livestock since 2001.

Hepatic tanager has to be the best yard bird, but we also had Bewick’s Wrens nesting in our gas grill twice and our dryer vent once. Other than that there was nothing more exciting than a Pileated Woodpecker. I have no idea what my yard list was at my parents place, but I know it was not as impressive as the yard list we had when we lived a mile west of Beverly, where we had black and yellow Rail, among other interesting stuff.

My Illinois life list at the time was probably about 320. It’s at 345 now, but I haven’t done nearly as much chasing recently as I did in the 70s. I’ve birded all fifty states, including driving to Alaska and back this past summer. I’ve also been birding in western Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago.

I’m still birding, and if I ever manage to retire, I hope to be more active!

By James L. Funk
Edited by Ted Wolff


Hepatic Tanager Recollections

How did word get out about this Illinois rarity in those antediluvian pre-internet days? I believe Jim Funk contacted Dave Bohlen to confirm identification, and Bohlen then reached out to Larry Balch, after which the word was spread among Chicago area birders. I have a dim recollection of talking to Dave Johnson about it during that period.

I left my home in Mt. Prospect in the wee hours of Thanksgiving day so that I could arrive at the Funks at first light. Leaving on Thanksgiving morning attests in some measure to how supportive my folks were, that they were fine for me to be gone most of the day but be back home by dinner.

Joel Greenberg by Cindy Kerchmar

Joel Greenberg by Cindy Kerchmar

I did see the tanager, and wound up staying for breakfast, which the Funks graciously offered. The most memorable moment of that meal was the discourse provided by one of the younger members of the family who said she wanted to marry a dairy farmer who raised Jerseys. I left and arrived home in plenty of time to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family. It was a most productive day.

Postscript

I have no idea what my Illinois life list was at the time, but having just lost Thayer’s Gull to the vagaries of taxonomic pronouncements my list plummeted to 399 where it currently stands. The recent Broad-billed Hummingbird and Magnificent Frigatebird would have been state birds, but they were not chaseable.

In my view the best three birds ever recorded in the state were the Large-billed Tern in 1949 (a first for North America), the Eleania (depending on which of the two species it would be either a first or second North American record), and the Common Ringed Plover (second Great Lakes record and first for Midwest). The last two mentioned are probably the best birds I have seen in Illinois.

By Joel Greenberg
Westmont, Illinois


The 1981 Thanksgiving Hepatic Tanager

It had been a normal Thanksgiving Day with extended family in the Chicago suburbs. I had planned to bird the Chicago lakefront the next day (Friday, November 27, 1981) with my friend, Homer Eshbaugh. Late on Thursday afternoon, Homer called to tell me that his plans had changed. He explained that a Hepatic Tanager had been discovered and confirmed “near Quincy” and that he was going to chase it in the morning with some other Chicago area birders. There was one seat left in the car. Did I want to come along?

Dan Williams courtesy of the Rockford Register Star

Dan Williams courtesy of the Rockford Register Star

I started birding seriously in 1977, and until this time had never chased a bird that was further than 90 minutes away, so I had to consider the idea for a few seconds. It took a few seconds more when he told me that they could pick me up at 0330 on Friday morning. Since I had never seen an Hepatic Tanager, I decided that I would go.

A car pulled into the driveway at 0330. Larry Balch was driving. It may have been the second time that I had met him. Homer was in the car, plus one additional birder who I think was Richard Biss. I got into the back seat and off we went. We arrived about 30 minutes after sunrise. Other birders were already present, so we didn’t have a problem finding the bird in an apple tree on the Funk farm. I got close-up looks through Larry’s and Homer’s Questars.

The Funk family was wonderfully cordial and welcoming. This was my first experience with guest books at bird rarity sightings. Some of us were given a tour of the buildings and the award-winning dairy herd of Jerseys. We stayed a little over 90 minutes visiting with the Funks and the other birders present.

Before we headed back to Chicago, I had a request: “Were there any Eurasian Tree Sparrows around?” I had never seen one. With a suggestion from Jim, it didn’t take long to find a flock of them, after which we headed back to Chicago. Larry, Homer and Rich were congratulating themselves on “sweeping the tanagers” in Illinois. I was pleased to have added 2 birds to my life list. The Eurasian Tree Sparrow followed Hepatic Tanager as life bird #358, and Illinois lifer #280.

My Illinois life list was at #396, but is now #395 with the Thayer’s Gull lump. The Hepatic Tanager is probably the most special Illinois bird for me because it was a life bird, my first long chase to see a bird, and because it remains Illinois’ only record of this species. However, finding the Garganey in Garden Prairie probably ties the tanager, as it’s always more rewarding to find and see a rarity.

by Dan Williams
Rockford, Illinois

IORC Update - 8 October 2017

The Illinois Ornithological Records Committee (IORC) recently concluded evaluation of 20 records of occurrence of rare birds in Illinois, accepting 18 and not accepting two. For each record, we indicate below the species or form, with number of individuals in parentheses if greater than one, followed by date or date range, location, and county. At the end, the record number is indicated in parentheses, followed by, for accepted records, names of the documenters. IORC thanks all the documenters, for accepted and unaccepted records alike, for their submissions. All documentation is maintained in the IORC archives so that there is a permanent record of all these observations. Documentation, regardless of the Committee’s decision, is a valuable part of the record of bird life in Illinois.

Records Accepted

  • Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (3), 9 May 2017, Watershed Nature Center, Edwardsville, Madison County (2017-012; Evan Dvorchak, John Tomlinson)
  • Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (3), 23 June 2017, northwest Alexander County (2017-023; Robert E. Fisher)
  • White-winged Dove, 18 March 2017, Quincy, Adams County (2017-007; Pat Reyburn; Phil Reyburn)
  • White-winged Dove, 4 June 2017, River Grove, Cook County (2017-014; Susan Szeszol)
  • White-winged Dove, 19 June 2017, River Forest, Cook County (2017-022; Jill Anderson)
  • Black Rail, 20-28 June 2017, Montrose Point in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Cook County (2017-020; Karen Mansfield; Matthew Cvetas, Robert D. Hughes, Geoffrey A. Williamson)
  • Black-headed Gull, 23 March 2017, Lake Springfield, Sangamon County (2017-008; H. David Bohlen; Colin Dobson)
  • Neotropic Cormorant (2), 4 June to 26 July 2017, Almond Marsh Forest Preserve, Lake County (2017-015; Adam Sell; Oliver Burrus, Carolyn Fields, Vince Moxon)
  • Neotropic Cormorant, 4-9 June 2017, Nygren Wetland Preserve, Winnebago County (2017-016; John Longhenry)
  • Anhinga, 18 June 2017, Oakwood Bottoms, Jackson County (2017-018; Dan Kassebaum)
  • Tricolored Heron, 20-22 June 2017, Illinois Beach State Park, Lake County (2017-021; Matthew Cvetas)
  • Swallow-tailed Kite, 7 April 2017, east of Metropolis, Massac County (2017-010; Keith McMullen)
  • Say’s Phoebe, 5 October 2013, Moraine View State Recreation Area, McLean County (2013-080; Benjamin Murphy)
  • Townsend’s Solitaire, 3-5 December 2016, Sand Ridge State Forest, Mason County (2016-091; Colin Dobson, Andy Gilbert)
  • Pine Grosbeak, 13 April 2017, Rockton, Winnebago County (2017-011; Martin Kehoe; Rolf Thienemann, Daniel T. Williams, Geoffrey A. Williamson)
  • Golden-crowned Sparrow, 21 March to 4 April 2017, Letcher Basin, Woodford County (2017-006; Craig Taylor; Benjamin Murphy, Matt Wistrand)
  • Western Tanager, 4 June 2017, Illinois Beach State Park, Lake County (2017-017; Carolyn Fields)
  • Painted Bunting (2), 20 May to 31 July 2017, East St. Louis, St. Clair County (2017-019; Dan Kassebaum)

Records Not Accepted

  • Semipalmated Plover, 7 March 2017, Northbrook, Cook County (2017-005)
  • Ruff, 20 September 2016, Techny Basin, Glenview, Cook County (2016-075)

2017 Carlyle Lake Pelagic Wrap Up

My First “Pelagic” Trip

“I’m not talkin’ ’bout pleasure boatin’ or day sailin’. I’m talkin’ ’bout workin’ for a livin’. I’m talkin’ ’bout sharkin‘ (pelagic birdin’)!” – Quint, Jaws (1975).

There’s few occasions where I’ve birded sunup to sundown. In fact, the only one I can think of
was my first Christmas Bird Count last December, and now this trip. I had decided a month ago
to participate in the Illinois Ornithological Society’s Carlyle Lake Pelagic Trip. I’d never visited
Carlyle Lake before, having only driven past at night and at twilight. It has the third-highest
hotspot list of species on eBird for Illinois, probably due to its proximity as the closest large
reservoir to St. Louis and to the variety of habitats present. See Dan Kassebaum’s website for more details about and photos of Carlyle Lake birds.

Carlyle Lake

Carlyle Lake

I woke up around 4:30 AM, and wondered why my alarm was going off. As I drifted back to sleep,
I suddenly realized why – I had a birding expedition! I was supposed to be there at 6:30 AM, and it
was over an hour and a half away, not including the time it takes me to get my lunch packed, etc.
One slow van in front of me put me as the last of 16 birders to arrive at the McDonald’s in Carlyle,
our meeting place. I then carpooled onward with Craig Taylor and Kimberly Rohling, until our
entire group stopped near the entrance to Eldon Hazlet State Park.

Pulling off at the entrance area, warblers proved to be abundant, if fleeting. Thankfully, a half-
dozen Black-throated Green Warblers decided to take pity on the photographers in the group, and
showed themselves well as they bounced around the top of a planted Bald cypress tree.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warblers (Setophaga virens) are a favorite of mine, mostly because they’re easily recognized. Few other birds have such a bright yellow head combined with dark stripes
underneath. We moved on from these, picking up several more species along the way. I had my ​
first miss of the day with Blackburnian Warbler, when Colin saw one well enough to get a photo.
That would’ve been a lifer if I’d seen it.

We moved to a spot where someone spotted a would-be Le Conte’s Sparrow in the brush, and all
but myself and two birders went down to look for it. The three of us continued talking and
mentioned that we’d love to find a Nelson’s Sparrow. I spotted what I thought was the Le Conte’s
Sparrow in the bush and took a record photo (what I call photos where the bird isn’t easy to find
or particularly well-photographed). Curiosity got the better of me, and I went down to see what
was so fascinating. Keith McMullen mentioned that they’d found a Nelson’s Sparrow. I double-
checked my photo of the “Le Conte’s Sparrow”- it’s a lifer Nelson’s. With this Nelson’s Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni), I’ve seen all but one of the regularly-occurring sparrow species in Illinois. (That one exception is the Clay-colored Sparrow.) I was very happy with this very unexpected
find!

I laid on my back on the ground to look at a male Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), arrayed in
fine red, the only completely red bird in the US. Unlike male Scarlet Tanagers, male Summer
Tanagers stay red all year long. They are currently expainding their range northwards, being a
Southeastern species. Formerly, they were on the edge of their range in central Illinois. Now,
however, they are found even as far north as Chicagoland. I got good looks, and despite being
directly underneath the bird, it chose not to poop on me. I wish gulls were so kind.

I strongly appreciate Eastern Wood-Pewees (Contopus virens) for their willingness to grant an excellent photo opportunity. These were the only flycatchers of the day, besides Eastern Phoebes. Evidently, the rest of the flycatchers have moved on.

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Another stop found me my second lifer of the day, a Philadelphia Vireo, the last of the commonly-occurring vireos for Illinois that I wanted to find. The second irritating miss of the day came when someone else found a Chestnut-sided Warbler and it got away before I could find it. Honestly, the whole day was someone finding a bird I could barely even see, and my glimpsing it just well enough for ID purposes before it flew away into the undergrowth. This was the case right up until the pelagic…

We spotted several more species, including ten species of warblers for me, a personal record for one morning. I was definitely the least-experienced birder on the trip, which is why I’ve elected myself to write it up. I believe the count was ~70 species seen by the group when we left Eldon Hazlet State Park, which is quite respectable for one morning! (I had 64 species.)

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) and American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) were present on Carlyle Lake that day. It’d been awhile since I’d seen so many American White Pelicans. There’s something so comical and yet so majestic about a flock of pelicans, and there’s certainly little else to match their size.

Pelicans and Cormorants

Pelicans and Cormorants

A Northern Parula (Setophaga americana) at Whitetail Access decided to demonstrate how to do the splits upside down and eat bugs off a leaf at the same time. Northern Parulas are a special bird for me – my first ever warbler was a dead Northern Parula at the base of the windows of a hospital in downtown Springfield. After that, I heard a few, but I didn’t see one in the wild until the one I saw at Eldon Hazlet State Park, and this one at Whitetail Access proved far more interesting to watch up close – well, about fifteen feet.

A Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius), a Wilson’s Snipe, and an Eastern Screech-Owl (heard only) proved to be three of the four best finds at Whitetail Access, almost entirely devoid of birds on its mudflats. Shorebird season is wrapping up. Red-shouldered Hawks were spotted on the way here, and several were seen throughout the day.

The next great bird we found was a Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris), the last breeding species of wren I hadn’t found in Illinois until now. (We’re going to ignore Bewick’s Wren in this discussion, despite the possibility that they reside in far western Illinois still.) The Marsh Wren is half a lifer for me. I heard one singing in Indiana in August, but I never saw it, and it’s hard for me to really count a bird as a lifer until I see it. So, this is lifer 2.5 for the day. This little wren is very unusual. It creeped through the brush until being flushed into a nearby bush, where it scolded us from a partially-concealed perch. This behavior is unusual for someone used to Carolina and House Wrens, but isn’t uncommon for this species.

I prefer to look for shorebirds over songbirds. Sure, shorebirds are hard to tell apart, but much of the time they let you sit and try to figure it out! This one below is a Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) at Patoka Access, where we stopped to find some shorebirds when Whitetail Access proved to be rather poor in that respect. My first Black-bellied Plover was spotted across the bay. A third lifer for the day!

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Alongside the Black-belled Plover, three American Golden-Plovers and several Sanderlings made for an interesting mix of shorebirds. I have never seen those three species together before. A few Cliff Swallows flew past, severely overdue to migrate south. They were quite early this year and have stayed equally late. I’m really not sure what they were doing there. Another good find I missed there was a Peregrine Falcon.

We boarded two rented pontoon boats to participate in the actual “pelagic” part of the trip. A pelagic in birding terms is a boat trip, usually out to the middle of an ocean or a big lake, after birds that only live on the open ocean (or large open inland water body, like Carlyle Lake, during migration). A Sabine’s Gull, one of those species that can only be found rarely on open bodies of water like this, had been seen the night before, but we all struck out on that one, the third big miss of the day. At least I saw Sabine’s Gull last year on Lake Springfield.

Captain Funk and Crew

Captain Funk and Crew

Throwing bread off the back of the boat to bring in any rare gulls, we only found three species – Ring-billed, Bonaparte’s, and two Herring Gulls. Still, as you can see, we had some of the best eyes in the state looking for it, in two boats. From left to right above, we had Tyler Funk, Keith Mcmullen, Craig Taylor, and Colin Dobson, all scanning for whatever we could find. Sitting on a boat for three hours or more, doing nothing but looking through what seems like an endless colony of Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis) is not for everybody. I enjoyed it, but the pelagic section was definitely much slower-paced than birding on the shoreline of Carlyle Lake. Pelagic trips are not for people who prefer instant results.

We did have the other boat to help spot birds. Occasionally the gulls would swarm us, and it was at this point that I’d wear my hat to keep the shower of gull crap from hitting me. Our pilot, Tyler Funk, spotted something in the water that the rest of us didn’t. In addition to steering the boat and looking for Sabine’s Gulls, he’d spotted this little guy on the water:

Red Phalarope

Red Phalarope

It was the fourth lifer for the day, (I’ll just say fifth by combining the “half-lifers” Northern Parula and Marsh Wren), a Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). This was somewhat unexpected. Red Phalaropes, despite their small size, almost entirely live far out at sea, only flying up to the tundra in far northern Canada to breed. These are the rarest of the three phalaropes in Illinois (all three of which are the only phalaropes in the world, which means I’ve seen all of the phalaropes in the world). This Red Phalarope was incredibly tame, allowing for close approaches.

It got within about eight feet of the boat, and if there had been no waves and a better cameraman behind the camera I’m sure my pictures would be better. As it was, I’m still impressed with how well we saw this bird. It even called and did a little feeding as we watched, the black and white pattern helping to hide it surprisingly well in the waves once it flew further away. We caught up to it again, and took even more photos. This bird is rusty-red in the spring. It’s in fall plumage currently. I saw a similar looking bird once, the Red-necked Phalarope, which has a similar life cycle and can look quite similar. However, that bird has a dark, striped back and a thinner bill and body shape.

We let the Phalarope go back to its merry spinning (They spin in a circle to concentrate plankton in the water, and then eat the concentrated plankton.), while we paid attention to the nearby tern flocks. Forster’s Terns (Sterna forsteri) congregated in large numbers off to the east- I’ve never seen anything like it! We saw not a single other species in the flocks of hundreds of birds (the other boat did see a lone Black Tern some time before this, but we didn’t). We watched them fly off as we made our way back to the boat docks, to end the day.

With 89 species, I did pretty well. That may or may not be the greatest number of bird species I’ve seen in one day, though I’d have to double-check. Either way, I strongly enjoyed meeting all the birders and I couldn’t have asked for more lifers! There were three subjects of discussion that dinner – southern Arizona dream trips, birding stories, and horseshoes – that last, the famous Springfieldian “burger” with Texas toast, fries, and cheese sauce. We all split up around 8:00 PM, to get back to our usual lives. And thus concluded my first “pelagic” trip.

Thanks to Craig Taylor for driving me and Kim Rohling around all day, Tyler Funk for finding the best bird of the day in the Red Phalarope, for steering my boat, and for organizing the trip, and to Keith Mcmullen. It was wonderful to meet a few of my longtime readers, and even better to met those whose eBird checklists I’d read in the past with considerable envy. I’m already planning to return next year- we’ll have to see what happens then!

Text and photos by Jared Gorrell

IOS Shorebirding Weekend Recap

On August 19 and 20, more than fifty birders joined IOS for an excellent weekend of birding in central Illinois. The weather was perfect, the camaraderie even better, and birds were abundant.

Birders Gather for the Day by Tyler Funk

Everyone gathered at the Holiday Inn Express in Pekin, home base for the weekend,

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Rare Bird Alert - 16-Sep-2017

Broad-billed Hummingbird by Pam Stanko

Neotropic Cormorant: Cook (North) – On September 15th, Andrew Aldrich reported that a Neotropic Cormorant had returned to the breakwall at Rainbow Beach in Chicago, nearly one year to the date.

Magnificent Frigatebird: Will (North) – Also on September 15th, Melinda Chapman spotted an immature Magnificent Frigatebird flying over

Continue reading Rare Bird Alert – 16-Sep-2017

Listers Corner Update, 8-Sep-2017

First cycle Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides thayeri),formerly Thayer’s Gull by Matthew Cvetas

Since the American Ornithological Society (AOS) issued its 58th Supplement to its Check-list of North American Birds in which Thayer’s Gull was relegated to a subspecies of Iceland Gull, there have been a number of questions from the Illinois birding community about

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Carlyle Lake Pelagic, September 30

IOS is pleased to announce this year’s Carlyle Lake Pelagic Field Trip to be held, Saturday, September 30th, 2017. This trip includes the popular three-hour pelagic aboard comfortable pontoon boats.

Sabine’s Gull by Barbara Williams

As in past years, we’ll meet at McDonald’s off IL 127 in Carlyle at 6:30 AM. This is a

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Rare Bird Alert - 12-Aug-2017

Neotropic Cormornat by Ron Bradley

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck: Rock Island (North) – On August 7th, Steve Freed reported a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in the Zuma Creek Flats area of Rock Island County just southeast of the I-80 and I-88 interchange.

Wood Stork: Alexander (South) – A Wood Stork was photographed in flight at Sexton Creek Wetlands

Continue reading Rare Bird Alert – 12-Aug-2017

Dowitcher Identification in Illinois

DOWITCHER BASICS Dowitchers are large-bodied, short-legged migratory shorebirds with extremely long bills relative to body length. In general, dowitchers (including juveniles) have warm orangeish or reddish underparts from late spring through summer and early fall, molting to cold gray upperparts with whitish underparts from late fall through winter and early spring. All feed belly-deep in

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2017 IOS Grants Awards

Abigail Blake-Bradshaw, Grant Recipient by Ryan Askren

One of IOS’s objectives is “To promote scientific research and education in order to improve knowledge and awareness of birds in Illinois”. The IOS Grants Program was initiated several years ago to support this objective with funding.

The 2017 IOS Grants Program received nine requests for

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