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It appears to have the dark feathers everywhere I'd expect them to be. It's had to judge its overall color from the photos as the lighting is difficult. I know that red-tailed hawks can have enormous variation in color schemes from bird to bird....
Maybe some sort of luecastic?  The appearance of longer feathers close to body was throwing me off too.  The body shape was confusing too.  The light colored one I've been shooting is almost all white with a couple of dark colored feathers (no patterning all white).  None of the pictures were in a stoop, the bird was soaring weird up there.
The wing shape is a bit misleading, as though the bird was in a stoop, but I believe this is a Red-tailed Hawk. The belly band, dark leading edge on the wing, wing commas, and dark head all point to that for me.
I created a thread in the bird id where this is supposed to be.  Sorry.
Identification / Is this a juvie luecastic redtail or a gyr?
«  salukifan111 December 24, 2015, 03:42:22 PM »
Saw a strange bird at goose lake prairie today.  I've been shooting a leucastic redtail all winter and looks nothing like this.  I had a huge lens with tc and this is massively cropped.  In the air, the head and wingtips looked black but that isn't what the pictures indicate.  I really didn't see the flapping.
This bird was soaring over Goose Lake Prairie.  It was a mile high and I was shooting a 400mm f/5.6 and a tc16a teleconverter on a d7100.  I never saw it flap.  It appeared to have a black head and wingtips in the air but didn't come out in the pictures.  I've seen a gyr at work (Dresden) perched on a building but not high in the air.  The coloration looked wrong for a buteo unless some sort of luecastic.  I've been shooting a luecastic redtail all winter and it looked nothing like that.
Discussion / Cook County Forest Preserve Big Year 2016
«  jpollock December 22, 2015, 05:41:58 PM »
Just in case you are making Big Year plans for 2016, keep this in mind ... The Forest Preserves of Cook County is hosting a 2016 Big Year competition … with a twist. The preserves compete instead of the people. 

There are two competitions:

·         Which preserve has the most bird species?  (Judged by the number of birds accepted by eBird for site hotspot.)

·         Which preserve team engages the most new birders? (Judged by field trip participation sheets.)

In January a call for teams to register will be advertised.  Fifteen teams have already jumped on board.

The “year” goes from March 1 to December 31, 2016.  Anyone reporting sightings to eBird for that preserve is automatically on the team.  There is no limit on the number of team leaders or team members at a site. Full details will be available in January.

If you’d like to stake a claim on a preserve, just drop me a line.  jpbobolink@gmail.com Plan to do a Cook County Big Year next year ... the competition will be hot!
I covered parts of Palos Park and Lemont in Area 6 of the Lisle-Morton Arboretum CBC yesterday.  As Geoff will report, over all numbers of birds were down but we still found much diversity.  For most of the day I was teamed with Larry and Barbara Krutulis.  We started early owling.  Our fist two stops were nice with low wind and 3 E. SCREECH OWLS in Cap Sauer FP, but then the wind picked up and we didn't get another owl until our last stop at John Duffy FP where we added 2 more screech owls.  Duck diversity at Lemont Quarries was 3 species: lots of MALLARD and GADWALL, and a pair of COMMON GOLDENEYE.  Passerines were better, with most of the expected species present with a couple FOX SPARROWS and a BELTED KINGFISHER being the best.  We also had nice looks at a mink on a log in the I & M Canal.  At a feeder near Bergman Slough Field FP we found 2 PINE SISKINS and while in the same area an adult BALD EAGLE flew over.  Three TRUMPETER SWANS (2 adults and an immature; I assume a family group) were at Bergman Slough.  RED-TAILED HAWKS were plentiful throughout our area.  45 SANDHILL CRANES flew over Bergman Slough Field while we were at the intersection of Will-Cook and McCarthy Roads.
Larry and Barb could only stay until midday, so I had them leave me at John Duffy FP and walked the whole loop trail.  John Duffy the last few years has provided several birds not otherwise seen on the count and yesterday held to that pattern.  When Larry dropped me off we heard gunfire that sounded like it was coming from the preserve.  It sounded like someone was illegally hunting there, which seemed kind of fool hearty with the FP police headquarters near by!  Larry and Barb were a little worried about letting me go in.  Turned out there was just someone target practicing at one of the houses along the western edge of the preserve.  Anyway, I scanned the slough here from the usual spot on the hill on the northwest side of the slough.  I only saw Mallards but the sun was in a bad position.  I headed on along the west side of the preserve.  I had a N. FLICKER fly over the trail, which is commonly seen on the count but not so many are seen at the places I cover in December.  Further along I found some WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS and began to pish them up for counting and I clearly heard an E. TOWHEE give its chewink-call from ~20 feet into the brush.  I pished and pished but it wouldn't come into view or call again.  It was the only one on the count this year!  I made it around to the east side of the slough where there is a clearing to view it.  I finally found some ducks that weren't Mallards or Gadwall, 3 each A. BLACK DUCKS and A. WIGEON.  Then I saw a duck a little further out.  I initially thought female Gadwall but then realized it was much smaller than all the other ducks.  It appeared to have a pale area on the face at the base of the bill, but despite this I convinced myself that it was a Green-winged Teal (the expected teal this time of year) and not a Blue-winged Teal as it swam further out.  I put it down as such in my note pad and moved on.  After going quite a ways I realized that its bill seemed rather large for a Green-winged.  I knew I would have to try and get a better look when I got back to the north side.  When I got there all the ducks were in the sun.  I put my tripod and scope down and they all flushed.  I tried to find the small one in the flock and got on it just as it dipped below some trees.  I believed I saw the blue on the wings but wasn't real satisfied with the look.  I walked up the hill see if it might have put down in the eastern half of the slough.  No luck: "Crap!"  I turned back and noticed some ducks had returned close to where they had been but shaded from the sun.  I got my scope on them and there was the teal.  They flushed but I was able to keep on the teal and saw the light blue wing coverts of a BLUE-WINGED TEAL!  This was also the only member of its species found in the count circle but not the best bird on the count, which I'll leave for others to tell.
After Duffy, I joined Steve Huggins and Glenn Giacinto.  Steve wanted to try to find something new for the day in the last hour before sunset.  Bergman Slough Field had been burned and we decided to check it for birds that might like such habitat.  We flushed about 5-6 LAPLAND LONGSPURS.  I flushed a bird that would have been a good one if I could have made the id.  Along a trickle of water a bird flew off, without making a noise, that was structurally like an A. Woodcock or Wilson's Snipe but all I saw was the butt-end and the colors I remember seeing just didn't match either of these species, so I left it off the list.  Overall, I had 40 species on the day plus the unidentified one.  It was an enjoyable day with good food and the usual nice presentation by Geoff Williamson at the end!

Randy Shonkwiler
Hyde Park/Chicago
FIELD REPORTS / Re: Could it have been a Wilson's Warbler?
«  Bluebird Annie December 20, 2015, 11:22:46 AM »
Very interesting .... I received an email about yesterday's Christmas Bird Count at Cantigny Park in Wheaton -- about 7-8 miles away from my Naperville home "as the crow flys".  Here's what the report said...

"Highlights yesterday included three species that we'd never recorded before on the Cantigny CBC: Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, Sandhill Crane and Nashville Warbler. The latter is a ridiculous species for December, found on the golf course at 2:30 pm."

A Nashville Warbler?  Maybe that was MY bird!

Well, I can't say EXACTLY what it was.  But it was certainly a warbler.  My eyes did not deceive this relatively inexperienced birder.  That bird, puffed up against the cold, looked like a big, round, bright yellow, feathery egg yolk.

Whatever it was, I feel privileged to have had it land in my "habitat".

Thanks for the info!
FIELD REPORTS / Re: Whooping Crane over Chicago, 12/19/15 AM
«  Fran Morel December 19, 2015, 03:36:51 PM »
very nice, Sam!
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