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Introducing: 'Birding in southern Illinois' a column by Henry Detwiler

  • A Red-legged Thrush, photographed by Henry Detwiler in Florida in 2019. Detwiler's discovery is the second U.S. record occurrence of the species.

    A Red-legged Thrush, photographed by Henry Detwiler in Florida in 2019. Detwiler's discovery is the second U.S. record occurrence of the species.

 
Staff Report
updated: 2/4/2020 12:01 AM

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- Southern Illinois Media Group is pleased to introduce a monthly birding column written by homegrown bird expert Henry Detwiler.

Detwiler started bird watching 50 years ago one snowy winter day in Carbondale when his parents brought home a birdseed "bell." The vibrant Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees and finches had him hooked. Since then he's practiced his sport in all 50 states and 28 countries.

He's written articles for Birder's World and Winging It. He's penned five bird-finding books, including "Finding Birds in Jackson County, Illinois."

His photos have graced magazines and the Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. In the year 2000, he started Southwest Birders, a bird-guiding service; he retired from it after 18 years of exciting and far-flung trips. Henry lives in Yuma, Arizona, with his wife Suzanne. His favorite pastime is traveling with her on birding adventures, especially to South American countries.

In 2019, Detwiler went on a quest to see as many bird species as possible in the United States, what is known in the birding world as a "Big Year." Both an adventure and a challenge, he visited 20 states with destinations ranging from the Pribilof Islands in Alaska to the Dry Tortugas in Florida. By the end of the year he had spotted 666 species, the best of which was a Red-legged Thrush he located in Florida, only the second record for the U.S.

Henry continues to bird southern Illinois on a monthly basis, when he visits his father in Carbondale. He's currently working on a comprehensive bird-finding guide to southern Illinois, which he hopes to complete by the end of the year.

• Behavior & Field Marks

Distribution: Roosts in Yuma, Arizona with his wife Suzanne, but ranges far and wide throughout the year

Size: 67 inches in length; wingspan, one to two arms' lengths, hat size 7 inches

Calls: "Pish, pish", "hoo, hoo, hoo", "Here birdie, birdie."

Song: A singularly unmelodic jumble of notes usually heard at birthday celebrations

Habits: Often observed chasing small birds, but does not appear to eat them