Songbirds to Brighten a Sunny Day

There’s nothing like a songbird to brighten your mood, especially when the weather’s as gloomy as it has been lately. (Luckily, today is turning out to be sunny!) Here are some of the bright and brilliant birds we’ve recently seen pass through Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Photo by Joel Pond

Magnolia Warbler
The ornithologist that named this bird called it a magnolia warbler because he first collected one from a magnolia tree, but the name isn’t very helpful: they typically breed in evergreen forests. In any event, the memorable patterning on these birds will make it hard to forget it or mistake it for anything else once you’ve seen one in person.

Scarlet Tanager
It’s obvious how this bird got its name! At this time of year, males are brilliant scarlet with contrasting black wings and tail. The non-breeding plumage of the males is olive-green instead of red, so birds that are molting between plumages look rather bizarre, with green and red splotches all over. Lucky for us, the birds are currently decked out in breeding plumage, and they’re truly dazzling.

Photo by Joel Pond

American Redstart
Another bird sporting brilliant orange-red coloration. Males in this species flash the colorful stripes on their tail, seemingly showing off for anyone watching.

Wilson’s Warbler
Male Wilson’s warblers wear a distinctive black cap. If you can get close enough a bird of the species, you might be able to see what look like tiny whiskers around its beak. These bristles help these bug-eaters catch their prey.

Vicky Hunt


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