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The whole town’s talking about the redpolls
Proposed Carvana project faces key vote tonight
Thirty Common Redpolls in Rogers Park. Nineteen in Jefferson Park. A couple hundred at a thistle feeder in Lincolnshire and dozens in Glenview. It’s a redpoll invasion year, and it’s hard to know exactly why.
The interesting is that the Winter Finch Forecast didn’t see it coming, at least in our part of the world. Forecaster Tyler Hoar wrote that seed crops on birches, alders and spruce were average to good heading into winter. There was a good chance redpolls would stay north of Lake Superior. But what if these birds came from farther north and west, where the seed crops weren’t as great last summer (as Hoar has noted)? What if they came all the way from Siberia, a distance which isn’t out of the question for this species?
Redpolls are maybe the hardiest birds on earth. They’ve been observed in temperatures as low as minus-65 Fahrenheit. They possess adaptations such as a throat pouch for storing seeds and an ability to burrow under the snow at night to stay warm. The nearest Common Redpoll breeding territory is in northern Ontario, along the Hudson Bay.
It’s time to enjoy these Arctic birds that are temporarily calling Chicagoland home. Because it might be another year or two before they’re back in numbers.
Finding a redpoll
Redpolls do favor the alders and birches of neighborhoods and woodland edges, but they can be found in prairies and among old fields, too. A few of the more reliable area locales include Chicago Botanic Garden, the Northwestern University lakefront and Wolf Lake. Redpoll calls sound a lot like those of another finch, the American Goldfinch. I’ve found that they chatter more, though, adding little check calls to the more musical finch notes.
Carvana is far from nirvana
The Skokie Village Board meets tonight to take up the proposed Carvana tower, the 140-foot all-glass “car vending machine” next to Harms Woods. Last month, a few adjustments were made to the planned tower, including some bird-friendly glass and a little less nighttime illumination. Advocates panned the revised proposal, though, and now the project goes before the Board. Dr. Daniel Klem, author of “Solid Air, Invisible Killer: Saving Billions of Birds from Windows,” added his voice to the chorus:
“The 140-foot glass tower, if built as I understand the construction proposal and lighting scheme, will be a bird killer, even with the window-strike deterrents currently planned to be applied to the lower levels.”
Tonight’s meeting starts at 8 p.m., but it may be best to arrive about an hour early to get a seat (Skokie Village Hall is located at 5127 Oakton Street). If the tower isn’t voted down, the second and final vote is scheduled to take place Feb. 22.
Gecko-pollinated plants produce rare red nectar
Shout-out to one of TWiB’s official brothers-in-law, Adrian Hegeman, for his publication on a naturally occurring red pigment found in the nectars of plants on the island of Mauritius. There are only a handful of plant species on earth that produce color nectar. Finding one that’s red has implications for research and industry.
The article recently was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Day geckos find the plants (and nectar) attractive, as confirmed by researchers who conducted a behavioral experiment with the reptiles. Cheers to Dr. Hegeman!
Tickets are now available for the Chicago-area One Earth Film Festival, which takes place March 4 through March 13. The festival is the Midwest’s premier environmental film festival.…..The Chicago Tribune’s Morgan Greene took an in-depth look at the many Snowy Owls invading Chicago and the reasons behind their southern travels.
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