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South American Bird Overshoots During Migration, Ends Up In Chicago

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Elaenia

This Elaenia flycatcher was migrating to the Amazon, but overshot by several thousand miles and ended up in Chicago. (Credit: Ethan Gyllenhaal)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A sharp-eyed 16-year-old birdwatcher has spotted a bedraggled visitor, who has migrated about 7,000 miles from home.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the bird is a South American flycatcher known as Elaenia. It was migrating north to the Amazon and overshot its mark by several thousand miles, ending up bedraggled on Chicago’s West Side.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

A 16-year-old birdwatcher named Ethan Gyllenhaal spotted an Elaenia in Douglas Park, at Sacramento Avenue and Roosevelt Road.

“It’s relatively small and quite drab, and very few small, drab flycatchers in the eastern U.S. show a black tip on the lower mandible.

Thus, Gyllenhaal and his father, museum consultant Dr. Eric Gyllenhaal, concluded that the bird was an Elaenia.

“We’re sure it’s an Elaneia now, and that means it’s about 7,000 miles from where it ought to be,” Eric Gyllenahaal said.

Eric Gyllenhaal says the small bird looks rather bedraggled as might be expected after flying seven thousand miles beyond his target.

Gyllenhaal says birders will playing bird calls of the “small-billed” Elaenia and the “white-crested” Elaenia, to determine which species the bird seen in Chicago belongs to.

Field Museum ecologist Dr. Douglas Stotz, says the bird was migrating north into the Amazon area of Brazil, and somehow overshot.

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