Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Most Unusual Sighting

This fall I have had very little time to go birding because of an especially busy schedule. Today, I finally had some free time to partake in one of my favorite activities. On this beautiful autumn Thursday, I set out to one of my favorite birding areas in the city of Chicago. My eyes were delighted with a plethora of Yellow-rumped Warblers, gleening tiny Golden-crown Kinglets, nibbling Orange-crowned Warblers, foraging Hermit Thrushes and a few stately Red-tailed Hawks. As the winds picked up and the sky became overcast I decided to call it a day and made one final tour of the bird sanctuary. My ears perked with the sound of a foreign bird song very close by. I scanned the tall grasses and sparsely leaved bushes for the source of the interesting tune. A splash of dazzling orange caught my attention. Mouth agape, with unblinking eyes, I shook my head to gather my wits. This brilliantly colored bird did not belong here. The dense rainforests of Uganda or damp tropical terrain of Costa Rica came to mind ... not the lake front of The Windy City. I snapped many photographs while observing my gorgeous subject dine on ripe seeds of tall grasses. With awe, I noticed the shape of the beautiful bird began to change. The radiant orange feathers of the nape and wing coverts seemed to become more plentiful and full. A most amazing sight! After a couple of minutes, the impressive bird flew a short distance to explore some nearby bushes. Elated with glee at my magnificent sighting,  I pulled out my cell phone and called Bruce to have him check the bird field guide (yes, I know I should have brought it with me) for an identification. He ran through all the Orioles but I believed this bird was not of that family. I knew a little more research was necessary and would have to wait until I returned home. I watched the luminous bird through the branches for five more minutes until it disappeared into the brush.

Upon my return home, I immediately began searching for the identity the bird. Surprisingly, it was an Orange Bishop Weaver native to northwest and eastern Africa. It is most often found in open savanna with tall shrubbery. Worried about  the welfare of the bird flying around a big city, I called two local zoos thinking the bird might have escaped. I was curtly told that no bird or animal had escaped from either zoo. Neither party was thrilled when I asked if they could refer me to someone who could help. I was given a number for a Chicago wildlife rescue service and gave them a call, but had to leave a voicemail message. Upon further research, I believe the bird was probably a pet and somehow escaped. Just last month I spotted a blue and white budgerigar in the same area. Yes, seeing this resplendent bird was a magical experience for me but I am also worried about how it will fare in this environment. Below are several photographs of this most unusual, wondrous sighting.


A most magnificent looking bird!


All puffed up!


A most striking profile ~ Take note of the color of the wing coverts in this photograph


If you compare the previous image to this photograph you will see that many of the wing coverts have filled out to a brilliant orange


One of the first photographs I took of the Orange Bishop Weaver ~ As you can see, its appearance changed drastically

29 comments:

dAwN said...

Wow...what a sight this must have been! Hope this beautiful bird can be rescued!

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Julie these photos are amazing! What an exciting experience for you. Every birdwatcher hopes to come across a unique unusual sighting. I would have produced blurry photos I'm sure from sheer excitement. I too hope this beauty fairs well.

Kimberley W. said...

Your post is so beautifully written, Julie. I felt like I was there, with you :) This Orange Bishop Weaver is magnificent. I'm sure this is..or was...a captive bird. Someone must miss him. I hope he finds his way home soon.

PoetessWug said...

How gorgeous he is!!! I love the colors...and the fact that you were so worried about him. Nice to see that you have as much love for the birdie as you do for the shot! The photos are great. Thanks for sharing them...and the story about how you took them.

Kerri said...

Oh, he is BEAUTIFUL! What an amazing experience. I am hoping he can be rescued as well!

Bob Bushell said...

Wow, that is the best photographs I've seen this morning. Fantastic.

The Early Birder said...

Whow Julie what an unexpected find. Fabulous colours.

BirdGalAlcatraz said...

Oh my gosh, Julie, that you kept your wits about you and got these stunning photos is amazing. I think I would have fainted!

Native Gardener said...

Hope the african bird won't get cold out there in the windy city! Wonderful photos.

Erica Lea said...

Wow! What an odd, incredible, and very beautiful sighting! I agree that it was probably somebody's pet - I've seen exotic birds for sale at bird shows before. I hope someone takes an interest in rescuing him. Shame on the zoos for being so unhelpful:-( Kudos to you for such awesome photos!!!

Crafty Green Poet said...

What gorgeous photos of a stunning bird! Weaver birds are wonderful, I lived in Malawi for a couple of years near a colony of a different species of weaver bird, their mating displays are amazing

Joanna Durczok said...

I have never seen such a bird in my life! The orange colour is so vivid:) I like this set of photos very much!

Jen said...

Oh wow! What an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing!

capturethesoul said...

What a great find...the photos are sensational and I hope the bird finds his way "home"!

Kerry said...

Read a few times like it thanks Julie...Kerry

Leovi said...

Very nice photos. A greeting from Spain.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Gorgeous photos and what an experience!! Lucky you and thanks for sharing!

Mike G said...

Julie, great find and a great photos!

Kelly said...

Wow! What a surprise to look out and see him! I would have flipped! Beautiful captures of him. Like you, I wonder how he will fare through the winter...not quite his habitat.

Angie S said...

Beautiful photos of a beautiful bird!
Wonder how he ended up in Chicago from Africa?
I'll bet he's happy to be free (and not in a cage, if he was a pet).

Friend of HK said...

What a beautiful bird! I am sure he is enjoying his freedom in the wild!

Vicky Earle said...

Hi Julie,

Beautiful photos!!

I'm very involved with the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver, Canada. They have a couple of Orange Bishop Weaver Finches in their care which are allowed to fly free and live within the rainforest dome. You're right - the Weaver you spotted will likely not survive the winter there.

I took the liberty of calling the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago to see if they care for exotic birds (no). But they were nice enough to give me other Conservatories in your area to try: Lincoln Park Conservatory (312-742-7736); Oak Park Conservatory (708-386-4700); Chicago Botanic Garden (847-835-5440); and the Chicago Park District will have a list of others (312-742-7529). Good luck!! I hope you can find his home!

JRandSue said...

Top notch photography Julie,you captured the colouring brilliantly.
Also love your Header.
John.

cindyzlogic said...

What a super gorgeous bird!! God was good to you allowing you to spot such a glorious bird!! Hope they find who it belongs to or you may need to adopt :-) I have 2 pet Finches and would gladly take him in!

Flohbock said...

wow... amazing photos! I like it!
Manu

patzoopy said...

Hi Julie, absolutely stunning photos.

The Orange and the Red Bishop Weavers are very common here in South Africa, what a find for you. How you managed to get such great shots is incredible as the bishop weavers are very fast and don't stay in the same place for very long.

dreamfalcon said...

breath taking!

Friend of HK said...

What a beautiful bird, the colours are amazing!

D Cates said...

I found your picture looking up an unusual couple of birds who loved the suet feeder. This was May 19,2014 in South Bend, IN (across Lake Michigan to the East). Quite interesting considering the arctic winter the midwestern US experienced.