Philadelphia Freedom

Quick note, the shell of this post was written a couple of days ago. A status has changed, but rather than rework the post, just added an addendum. Now back your regularly scheduled programming.

Par for course this year, the month of June is flying by. Really not sure what the reason is for that other than I am keeping busy, which is keeping my eyes off the clock. Linda assures me there are still 24 full hours in every day. I do know a chunk of time is being spent training. Per last post, it has been a grind with the ankle injury and now the arrival of Mr. Heat Miser. The lemonade out of lemons is the reduced mileage with the injury is allowing me to ease into the heat conditioning. After 4 consecutive Short 5 to 6 mile outings the ankle was feeling good, so added back in one of the many large climbs that are staples for my usual runs. Ankle held nicely – I decided it warranted a Philadelphia Museum of Art celebration. Yep, put my arms up and did some small circles – pretty sure I heard trumpets in the background. To those that know me, yes, I did look around first to make sure NOBODY would see me hehehehe.

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

At that moment it occurred to me I had the perfect topic for the next post. I just needed to get back in the digital darkroom when I got back home as this series is fresher than Pepe Le Pew.

Hit the jump to read more about our specimen originally discovered in the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

Introducing the latest addition to my life list. I bring you today’s featured feathered friend, the Philadelphia Vireo. Let’s put a song in your head for the rest of the day shall we…

‘Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
From the day that I was born, I’ve waved the flag
Philadelphia freedom to me knee-high to a man
Gave me peace of mind my daddy never had

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

Trivia question – what bird is referenced in that song? No Google cheating allowed and I’ll spare you a guess, it is, unfortunately, not the Vireo. Thanks to the prep for this post, learned something about this song I didn’t know. The name of the song was requested by Elton to honor Billie Jean King (she coached a tennis team with that name). Although the title had meaning to Elton, Bernie Taupin was really writing about the sound coming out of the Philadelphia soul scene. Now you can impress your friends and family when they ask you why you are humming that song after reading this post ha!

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

Our specimen comes to you courtesy of a birding trip to Chicago. Ron had gone to the Montrose Bird Sanctuary earlier in May and found some Warblers still hanging around. Canceling our Dauphin Island trip put a huge dent in our expected Warbler counts for our “Average Year” (link here). This would allow me to claw a few of those checks back from the abyss. Ron was gracious enough to pick me up while camping at Chain ‘O Lakes State Park and drive me into the heart of Chicago to the beach that following weekend. NOTHING annoys me more than having to drive anywhere near that city.

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

The minute we stepped out of the car we started adding checks for the current year. We made our way inside the sanctuary and noted the large number of people hanging around a tangle. Spotted numerous American Redstarts (link here), a few Black and White Warblers (link here) and a Thrush that refused to give me a shot from the front so I could get an official ID. The Thrush did lead me right to where our Vireo, here, happened to be hanging out “people watching”.

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

When it comes to birds that hang out in our broke state of Illinois, I can usually hold my own IDing them in the field. Add in Ron’s acquired knowledge from the field we could probably go toe to toe with most of the other birders that happened to be there that day. After pointing out the find to Ron, we both stood there dumbfounded. It clearly had the Vireo profile, but lacked the blood eye of our dominant variety the Red-Eyed. This one also had a yellow tinge on the breast that isn’t present on those. That left us with the possibility of a Warbling Vireo. Those have some yellow, but not at the density our new specimen possessed. We politely asked a couple of ladies standing near us if they could help us confirm the ID – “We believe it is a Philadelphia Warbler”. Blink twice, stow your trays and bring your seats to their upright position – it’s lifer time. Ron and I immediately went to work making sure we had this new bird in the tin.

Philadelphia Vireo found at Montrose Beach, Chicago IL, in May 2022

For those like us that could use the extra help in the field, the adult breast plumage of the Philadelphia is a brighter yellow than the Warbling and although they both have the white eyebrow, the Philadelphia’s will extend all the way to the bill where the Warbling will stop a bit short. I’ve been working on a new prop for the haunted trail and just realized what a great set of pumpkin eyes these Vireos have from the straight on perspective. According to Cornell, these are high canopy migrants so to have one this accessible was quite a treat. This one managed to get so close to us The Beast couldn’t focus – kept having to back away to get a decent shot – something that rarely happens! Would be wrong not to comment on the naming based on my previous tidbits. This bird was named by John Cassin back in 1851 based on the city where it was discovered – sorry Billie, 92 years before you were born.

Figure out the bird in the Elton song yet? If you guessed Whippoorwill you are a winner (will also accept Nightjar).

Take care everyone, I need to go conquer a few more hills.

Update: Well, folks Murphy has struck again. From the high point earlier in the week with the Rocky dance, I am now back at square one with the ankle injury – actually probably even further back than square one. While working at my mother’s house yesterday I managed to Frosted Flake my bad ankle (pain scale link here). Simply turned my torso a bit to grab something on the floor slightly behind me and “crunch, crunch, crunch” as the tendons were strained anew. Immediate physical pain and mental anguish knowing I had to start rebuilding it from scratch. On the bright side, there will be another Rocky celebration on the way.

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