As long as the bird that we know as Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) has existed, they've had a charming yellow stripe across the tip of their tail. The yellow pigment actually comes from carotene in their fruit diet, and that diet has been changing as humans have brought different fruit-bearing trees into their native range. Now, a small percentage of Cedar Waxwings have orange tail tips instead of yellow, probably the result of eating certain types of non-native honeysuckle berries when their tail feathers are developing. Read more about Things seen in the Bird Division #7 (or: Same bird, different stripes)
Last week I wrote about the recent publication detailing the detective work that uncovered the first record of Western Flycatcher for Illinois. I didn't have time to include photos of the actual specimen, so here they are. The two birds on the left are Yellow-bellied Flycatchers from Illinois and the two on the right are Western Flycatchers from California (presumably Pacific-slope Flycatchers). The star of the show--Illinois' only Western Flycatcher--is in the middle. Read more about Follow up: A first for Illinois, discovered in the Field Museum's collection
Last night I was a guest on "Chicago Tonight," a live nightly news program that is broadcast on Chicago's PBS affiliate, WTTW. I was talking about the wonderful Sandhill Crane migration that the Chicago area experienced over the last couple of days, with thousands pouring through the area, including many right over and around downtown. It's been great publicity for birds. My interview was accompanied by the beautiful photographs that Jerry Goldner took of the migrating cranes. Read more about Live interview on Chicago's PBS affiliate: "A Sky Full of Cranes"