Assume nothing.

Uncommon birds are found in wild places. Not cities. Like most assumptions, this one is mostly true.


I don’t plan on getting into much more about birdlife in cities. The last post, “Hard to Explain,” covered that.

But, what follows is an unavoidable postscript. I’ll keep it short. Like the bird I saw…

I have spent much of my free time wandering through the wooded Des Plaines River valley. In there, you might see any wild thing.

Hiking along the river is as calming, and habit forming, as an afternoon Pabst or two.

By contrast, I’m occasionally obligated to spend time in the big city. One day, in a shadowy cement corridor between skyscrapers, I saw an American Woodcock.

It was hurrying along the sidewalk on stumpy legs. It seemed nervous, out of place.

On an earlier occasion, I’d seen an American Woodcock waddling through underbrush near my river. It’s an oddball of a bird, not common anywhere. And I was excited to see it in those woods.

But, seeing one in the city was more than exciting; it was existential. A re-ordering of the way things are supposed to work.

I read about a guy who saw an Anhinga in Illinois. It’s a bird of tropical shorelines. But he saw it in the prairie state.

This happens sometimes. An Anhinga in Illinois. A Woodcock in downtown Chicago.

Just keep your eyes open, and assume nothing.

3 Responses to “Assume nothing.”

  1. pat says:

    a family close to Burnet Tx awakened to see a bluefooted booby roosting on the diving board of the family pool…that would make you consider giving up demon rum

  2. Two-Fisted Bird Watcher says:

    Thanks Meredith. A quick check brought information. Here’s a good link:

    And there was a story in the 4/22 Sunday Chicago Tribune:,0,4737039.story

    A small bird making big news. It’s also newsworthy that there are people around here who know what they see when they see it.

  3. Meredith says:

    You forgot to mention the elaenia in North Lawndale, and how the two genius Gyllenhaal boys discovered it!