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About psweet

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    Northeast Illinois

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  1. Hutton's Vireo

    This seems to be a common theme in S. California wintering birds. They feed on insects in Eucalyptus, and the facial feathers either get matted with sap or get pulled out. Either way, the bill ends up looking longer than normal because the base isn't covered with feathers. A key mark for distinguishing the two is the strong black bar just below the lower wingbar on a kinglet. That's formed by dark feather edges on the base of the secondaries. In Hutton's, the pale edging on the secondaries extends farther towards the base, and if you see any dark bar there, it's narrow and ill-defined.
  2. Northern Shrike?

    Yes, Midewin is the only population I'm aware of in N. Illinois, and there aren't many in S. Illinois these days either. I think the healthiest population of Loggerheads is at the Jasper Prairie Chicken preserve.
  3. Help identify this sea bird

    Black Guillemot seconded. (Darn winter plumage that I've never seen -- I have a hard time thinking of them as white!) Kittiwakes will swim, but they don't dive.
  4. What Flycatcher?

    The throat's awfully gray for a Cordilleran, and I'm not sure the bill structure is right. The location isn't actually right for Cordilleran either. They migrate through the mountains -- if there's a Western type at Patagonia Lake the default would be Pacific-slope in winter or migration.
  5. Gilded?

    Why not a Gilded Flicker? The only thing you mentioned that wouldn't fit a Gilded would be the color in the tail feathers.
  6. Northern Shrike?

    Any Loggerhead Shrike in Chicago would be notable, with the exception of the few that nest south of the city in Midewhin. A February Loggerhead would be very impressive.
  7. I'd say Great-tailed Grackle fits better than anything else. There are no crows on the Yucatan (Common Raven comes closer, but even they're found in the mountains well to the west of the peninsula), and Groove-billed Ani would be even smaller. Great-tailed Grackles perched are going to look smaller than Roadside Hawks -- males average about 30% smaller. But they're actually a bit longer on average than a Roadside Hawk, and the average wingspan is about 20% smaller. At that point individual variation means they're going to get quite close. And wingspan and tail length have more impact on our judgement of flying birds than actual bulk.
  8. Gilded?

    Certainly looks like it. There seems to be some orange tones in the tail, but given the extensive cinnamon crown, I'm thinking that's a reflection from the red bird bath.
  9. I don't know. I've never seen that before, either. I can't find a reference to it in Pyle or Sibley's. Perhaps a mutation akin to the one that causes blue eyes in humans? Or perhaps there was a dietary issue -- the feathers on the forecrown aren't the usual bright red. I don't know if those pigments have to be maintained in the eyes.
  10. Rivoli or Blue throated?

    Green spots below, no bronze on the rump, looks like Rivoli's.
  11. Help with Gull ID

    Yes, around here I'd call that a Herring.
  12. Gull Help Please!!!!

    The two apparently intergrade (we see a lot of intermediates on the Great Lakes; that's a large part of why they were lumped), and no-one's done the sort of work required to truly characterize the variation in this form. I think pigeonholing them as one or the other isn't helpful -- kumlieni and thayeri are useful as descriptions of the ends of the spectrum, but lots of them simply can't be placed in one subspecies or another.
  13. I suspect all of your terns are Forster's, although the more distant shot isn't clear enough to say for sure.
  14. Help with Gull ID

    I don't think the underwing's really all that white. I think most of what you're seeing is tail rather than wing.
  15. Western or Eastern Meadowlark?

    The tertials do suggest a Western, but I still hesitate to try to ID them down there in the winter. You can see that the pattern's still interrupted by pale feather edges.