Sam Burckhardt led a field trip for the Openlands "Birds in my Neighborhood" program, this past Thursday, June 5, at Palmisano Park in Chicago.

Here is the report:

John Cawood and I, along with several teachers and chaperones, led a group of over 60 students from Mark Sheridan Academy on a field trip to Palmisano Park on the near South Side of Chicago. The weather on this sunny June 5 was perfect for exploring the grasslands and the old stone quarry of the park. We split into two groups and were able to show the students many of the birds in their Openlands field guide.


Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  9
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  6
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type))  4
Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica)  6
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  3
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  2
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  5

Additionally, we found a few other species that were not listed in the booklet:

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  1

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)  1

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  1
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  3

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  1

Altogether, we saw and/or heard twenty species of birds. It was a great pleasure to see how much of what we had discussed in our previous visits the students retained. All seemed very eager to go out and spot birds and most of the kids did well in finding or seeing the birds that were present. Some of the students even brought their own binoculars. Palmisano Park is a good spot to see some of the common species in our area, and the lack of established trees meant that most of the birds were easily visible. The students were very well behaved and it helped greatly to have more adults to guide them and focus their attention on the birds we were able to spot.

After the students left, John and I saw two more species, both flying over the park:

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  2

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1

And just before the students arrived, a Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)  1

This singing Savannah Sparrow can be separated from the similar looking Song Sparrow by the yellow lores (the area between the base of the upper part of the bill and the eye), as well as crisper and finer streaks on the breast. Both, the Savannah Sparrow and the Song Sparrows, were singing on exposed perches and the students were not only able to see them but also hear them.