Outside Havana, Illinois, that is! There’s an area of nothingness there that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen. Strange electrical activity emanating from a structure looking eerily like an electrical substation but which traps birds from another space and time, birds not seen anywhere else in these parts. Glowing birds. And blurry ones.
At one point a car drove by and the dust from the gravel road engulfed my brother Brian and me and an Audubon Society lady who was bicycling by and stopped because my brother is so talkative (seriously, no one for miles around and Brian strikes up a conversation with someone going by on a bicycle).
We were out there baking in June of 2017 looking for a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, a really cool bird that lives along the Texas coast up through Oklahoma and Kansas, but nowhere near Illinois. A pair of them had been at this same site for two years in a row, and there they were:
How cool is that! Look at that tail–looks like something from the tropics.
A gorgeously serene bird…
strangely attracted to electric fields…
and having superbird abilities.
We also saw a Lark Sparrow, a bird whose range just barely touches that part of the country, in the very same tree as the Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers. You can’t make this stuff up.
At the electrical substation (I forgot, Brian also struck up a conversation with an extraterrestrial in a pickup truck on the way–I know they’re ETs because when I stopped at a drugstore in Havana to buy a baseball cap they had no idea what I was talking about), we came across Eurasian Tree Sparrows. These birds have an insanely tiny range:
This German import came to St. Louis in 1870 and spread only a little further into Illinois in all that time, which is remarkably similar to my own family history (and now that I think of it, I’m drawn to electrical substations, too). The House Sparrow, which arrived there at the same time and is more aggressive and adaptable, appears to have kept them out of other areas. They do not have any gray on their head as the House Sparrows do, but they do have a distinctive dark ear patch.
We also tried to capture photos of a Western Kingbird, which lives, um, in the West. Not east of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas–nope! Brian had seen them there before but lo, we didn’t see any when I was there. But we returned on July 1 to try our luck again and there it was at the substation in all its blurriness:
The Western Kingbird is “an eye-catching bird with ashy gray and lemon-yellow plumage,” as Cornell puts it. They will chase Red-Tailed Hawks and American Kestrals, at which point they flare crimson feathers under their gray crowns.
So that’s the Havana Triangle. It’s a cool place out in the middle of absolutely nowhere that often sports unusual birds. Why? The truth is out there.
4 thoughts on “The Bermuda Triangle Outside Havana”
Wow that is spectacular, what a beauty.
Thanks! I don’t know why the pics are not sharper, really, but I remember how bright it was out there and there was a lot of fringing around the birds in the sky, so maybe that was it. The Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher is such a cool bird.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
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Ummm, did you just do what I think you did…. hmmmm, I guess I can blame myself and my ridiculously huge backlog for leaving the door open on that one. First off kudos for another post – getting into the swing of it now (for the others, years have gone by before we have received one post.. much less the avalanche of posts as of late – way to go). A quick clarification – Ron is the social butterfly in the family although I might have been trying to preempt any unwanted scrutiny being out in the absolute middle of nowhere with a healthy amount of camera equipment between us – Not the first time this has happened, we were down in the same area when a truck drives up (somewhat in the middle of nowhere) and two guys jump out with hunting bows and and arrows leading to some tense moments (me long distance runner, Ron sacrificial lamb you do the math). I have to agree with B. from the UK, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is an absolute stunner and super stoked he was able to get it in the tin after traveling down. Thanks for sharing this truly bizarre birding location – pretty sure the electrical field that is bringing those exotics in are doing horrible things to our bodies.
I didn’t realize that you hadn’t posted yet on the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher! This was one of the many success stories of my going to your neck of the woods to get birds, unlike the converse. The two guys with the hunting bows were a bit disconcerting, particularly since the area was closed due to flooding and we had parked at the barricades and walked into the area and then these guys pulled up next and started taking out their bows and walking toward us. It turned out that they were bypassing the barricades as well. In fact, Brian has the super-long lens, so I’m not the target. 🙂
Thanks for commenting! We should try to get there again this summer.
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