There are Magnolia warblers hanging around my neighborhood. This is pretty exotic for us. Ordinarily, we stock just the most basic urban tough guys – crows, starlings, house sparrows, now and then a Cooper’s hawk – and we get to dress things up with cardinals. But thanks to the migration, right now these little butterfly-like characters are hanging around Logan Square, singing, eating bugs and flashing their intense black-and-yellow chests.
I heard them for a few days before I found them. The binoculars cleverly had migrated too, and were always in the opposite place from me – car, office. Then this morning everything came together, and I saw these charmers, jumping around in the neighbor’s plane tree, not even especially concerned that I was staring at them and pointing.
I know they won’t be here long. Chicago is one of those places where most migratory birds stop off for a couple weeks of rest and refueling on their way somewhere else. When Magnolia warblers are making their childcare decisions, they vote against city life, buildings, deciduous trees. They like spruce forests. They like northerly climes. These guys are heading for Canada. One day soon, I’ll open the kitchen window, and their song will be gone.