aba events
Nikon Monarch 7

#ABArare – Wandering Tattler – Chicago, Illinois

facebooktwitter

At about 9:30 on the morning of August 9, Chicago birder Steve Spitzer headed out to one of his favorite local spots, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. “I saw that the weather was going to be crummy, so I decided to go out and see what landed on the beach. People don’t go out when the weather’s bad, but everyone should go birding when the weather’s crummy,” Steve told me later over the phone.

While he was out there, he was surprised to run into another birder on the beach. Matthew Ligas had seen a post that I had made on the Illinois Birders’ Forum about the possibility of good shorebirds being seen on the Chicago beaches today and tomorrow, and decided to give it a go.

“I noticed a shorebird flying in low along the beach, from the west,” Matthew told me. “I watched the bird fly past and land on the pier.”

Tattler3

“Matt comes over and tells me there’s some kind of bird on the pier, so we both start taking pictures of it,” Steve continued. “I looked at it and didn’t know exactly what it was. The bill was too heavy, and the legs were too short for a Yellowlegs, and at first I thought it was an odd Red Knot. But the bill was too big, so I thought it had to be a strange Willet.”

They looked through their field guides, but both were working with the Sibley Guide to eastern birds, which does not include Wandering Tattler.

Steve got home first and posted his picture of the bird on the Illinois Birders’ Forum at 11:25 am. Shortly after that, Chicago-area birder Adam Sell sent me a text message: “this may sound dumb but look at the id pic that Steve Spitzer put up. Have you ever seen a Willet looking like that?”

I looked at the picture, and my jaw hit the floor. It was a Wandering Tattler!

Tattler2

Steve told me that the bird landed on the pier for only a minute or two, then took off north over the water, but angled back in towards the shoreline.

There are miles of rocks and beaches up and down the lakefront from Montrose, and I’m sure that every Chicago-area birder that’s able will be out there scouring the rocks for the next couple of days.

Wandering Tattler breeds in Alaska, wintering on the Pacific Coast of California and Mexico, as well as Hawaii. During migration it is strictly coastal, with about 15 records away from the Pacific. The most notable of these are Massachusetts (May 1968), Ontario (August 1948, July 1960 and June 1977), Manitoba (June 1981), Texas (April 1992), Arizona (September 1971), and Utah (September 2005). This sighting represents the first record of this species for Illinois.

The weather in Chicago is deteriorating as I type this, with heavy downpours and waterspouts on Lake Michigan expected. Hopefully the bad weather will keep the bird in the area for a day or two. As Steve said, “everyone should go birding when the weather’s crummy”.

Updates on the search for this bird can be found at the Illinois Birders’ Forum.

 

The following two tabs change content below.
Greg Neise

Greg Neise

Greg Neise developed his interests in birds, photography and conservation as a youngster growing up in Chicago, across the street from Lincoln Park Zoo. At the age of 13, he worked alongside Dr. William S. Beecher, then Director of the Chicago Academy of Sciences and a pioneering ornithologist, and learned to photograph wildlife, an interest that developed into a career supplying images for magazines, newspapers, institutions and books, including National Geographic (print, web and television), Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Boston Globe, Nature, Lincoln Park Zoo, Miami Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo, The Field Museum and a host of others. He has served as President of the Rainforest Conservation Fund, a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the world's tropical rainforests. Greg is a web developer for the ABA, and of course, a fanatical birder.
Greg Neise

Latest posts by Greg Neise (see all)

  • bledsoe

    Watch out for Gray-tailed Tattler.

  • Alan Wormington

    There is actually a 3rd record for Ontario: June 1977.

    And also a record for Churchill, Manitoba: June 1981.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0162fbe96abd970d Greg Neise

    Alan, thanks. It’s really difficult to gather old records for posts like this quickly.
    -greg

  • http://nature-allybeautiful.blogspot.com/ Debbie Miller @HooootOwl

    Congratulations to Matt and Steve for finding and photographing this exciting siting and state record. Thank you too Greg for your fast updates and posts, it was exciting reading them, and learning about this species.

Birders know well that the healthiest, most dynamic choruses contain many different voices. The birding community encompasses a wide variety of interests, talents, and convictions. All are welcome.
If you like birding, we want to hear from you.
Read More »

Recent Comments

  • Steve Arena, in The ABA Needs Your NWR Birding Photos!... { Female Least Bittern wing flicking while hunting; https://www.flickr.com/photos/pokedaddy/19421400216/in/photostream/ Photographed 05 July 2015, GMNWR, Concord Impoundments, Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts Male Least Bittern in flight https://www.flickr.com/photos/pokedaddy/18801591562/in/album-72157629831020551/... }
  • Amy K, in Rare Bird Alert: July 24, 2015... { Just one BBWD in Indiana, not a pair }
  • Nathan Hentze, in The How and Why of Urban Cooper's Hawks... { A different look at urban Cooper's Hawks, this time in Vancouver BC and focusing on toxicology, found what is being touted as the most polluted... }
  • Rick Wright, in The How and Why of Urban Cooper's Hawks... { I'll be interested to see how the results complement and compare with this 12-year study conducted in urban Tucson: http://ag.arizona.edu/~steidl/files/pdfs/Mannan%20et%20al.%202008%20Urban%20Ecosystems.pdf }
  • Lynn, in Considering Killdeers and Collared Doves... { Just now - a Rufous Hummingbird at my flowers on my Anchorage porch! A non-rare rarity, I guess. }
  • Older »

Categories

Authors

Archives

via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 4 of 5. July 29, 2015 3:51
    Fact: Careful observations and sketches help you really learn birds. […]
  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 3 of 5. July 28, 2015 3:44
    It’s all very well showing some of my notes from recent years (Part 2), when I’m an experienced birder, but what did my notes look like when I was a teenager? It’s pretty clear, however, that I wouldn’t have come close to winning any Young Birder of the Year field notebook competition! […]
  • What exactly is a field notebook? Part 2 of 5. July 27, 2015 3:31
    A field notebook is, well, what it says: a notebook you carry in the field (in my case, 24/7 in my pocket, with 2 pens), where you can write down birds as you see them. It’s the raw data of your field journal. […]

Follow ABA on Twitter