So we have a very handsome but unfamiliar avian guest in our backyard. He (or she) was first seen snacking on sunflower seeds on the platform feeder about three days ago. Since then, this mystery bird has been a regular presence.
Probably a member of the Thrush Family, shaped like a Robin but bigger. Very different from anyone we’ve seen in the garden before.
After consulting Sibley’s, we can think of two possibilities. First, it might possibly be an Eastern Meadowlark. Meadowlarks are not unknown in the Chicago area. However, the illustrations I’ve seen don’t look as dark or as orange as our new guest.
Also, our back garden is the wrong sort of habitat. Meadowlarks are birds of open fields – hence the name. The only place nearby where they have been known to nest is a golf course with naturalistic prairie landscaping. Our yard is in filtered shade, with mature deciduous trees – cottonwoods, silver maples, and exotic elms.
The other possibility is Varied Thrush. Problem with the Varied Thrush is, their normal range is along the West Coast of the USA and Canada, extending into the western Rocky Mountains. They have been spotted further east, but very rarely.
ID help needed! Anybody out there want to venture an opinion?