Sunday, October 30, 2011

Have you seen the gallinule?

American purple gallinule, courtesy of VIREO
Yesterday morning I set off with the birders to look at birds at the Magic Hedge near Montrose Harbor in Chicago.  As we were arriving, I found out a gallinule had been spotted very recently.   Two men were walking away from the harbor as we were leaving our car.  "Did you see the gallinule?" my sister asked. These were two very sweet and funny guys.  "No," said one, "but I saw a really big fish," and held his hands about 20 inches apart.  "I don't look at fish," said the second, "but I saw a grebe.  The gallinule is supposed to be down by Slip A."

Fall at the Magic Hedge near Montrose Harbor, Chicago
There was a difference for me this week.  I had my own [not great but they work and hey, they were free] binoculars.  I forgot my plastic bag so I couldn't concentrate on picking up trash (which was too bad as there was a lot of it).   I actually looked at something and was later almost able to figure out what it was, bird identification not being my strong suit.  (That and speaking Danish.)

Get off my beach, you kids!
Birders are a friendly bunch, everyone sharing what they'd spotted.  "I saw a redpoll," said one.  "I saw an orange-crowned warbler," said another (and then we did, too).  And all reports were followed by, "Did you see the gallinule?"  We walked around the Magic Hedge and on the beach (where there was a murder of about 30 crows) to the water and across the sand and through trees.  We saw a Cooper's Hawk.  We saw a hooded grebe, then another, diving down into Montrose Harbor in search of a snack.  We saw a pair of coots.  We walked to Slip A and we looked and stared and gazed and considered.  We saw a man walking along in a sport coat, looking like he said to his wife, "Yeah, honey, I'm happy to go to the wedding, but I want to see the gallinule," who later asked us with great enthusiasm, "Did you see the gallinule?"  (Turned out he was going to work, not a wedding, and was running late but wanted to see, well, you know who.)

Have you seen this gallinule?  Courtesy of Ted Swoboda Photography
My sister later reported to me that a couple reported seeing the gallinule twice and right after we were there.   Shifty little SOB, that gallinule.  Other people advised seeing a sage thrasher who was rumored to just be hanging around.

I started my Magic Hedge visits as going along for the walk and the company and maybe taking out some trash and now I like stopping and looking and seeing if I can figure out which bird is which.  For me, a robin is still the easiest thing (though there was a fat one in a tree that gave me trouble yesterday) and now I am like the other birders.  I just want to see the gallinule.

Bears back next week, y'all!


  1. just to clarify, it is a Common Gallinule (recently changed from Common Moorhen) not the Purple Gallinule that has been being seen at Montrose.

  2. I hope you get a chance some day. If not this one I will try and find another. He or she was a very cool bird.

  3. Anonymous: Thanks for the correction. I appreciate the information. Any gallinule is worth hunting down and viewing through binoculars. Thanks again.

    Happy Peasant: Yes! Please and thanks in advance. Of course, I will only be able to pick out the robins so I am hoping my sister will be there to tell me to look at the things that are not robins, too.