Got UFO?
January 23, 2011 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Please help me figure out what this UFO in my photo is. I suspect a bird, but it was bloody cold out, and I didn't see any birds in other photos taken that same morning.
posted by MikeWarot to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It looks like a red-winged blackbird to me.
posted by Dasein at 8:59 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's any doubt that it's a red-winged blackbird.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:21 PM on January 23, 2011

It looks like the right coloring for a robin, but my vote is for the flying popsicle theory.
posted by phunniemee at 9:22 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are red-winged blackbirds still in Illinois, though? I thought they migrated away for the winter.
posted by sugarfish at 9:34 PM on January 23, 2011

Best answer: It's not a red-winged blackbird, it has a white chest, red-winged blackbirds don't.

I think it's a barn swallow. See reference photos:

And the wikipedia article:

It also seems more likely that a barn swallow would be in Chicago this time of year.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:40 PM on January 23, 2011

Sorry, apparently meta filter doesn't auto-link URLs.
reference photos
wikipedia article
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:41 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree that it doesn't look like a red-winged blackbird- that big beige patch on it isn't right.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:01 PM on January 23, 2011

I agree it has to much white to be a blackbird, maybe a Towhee?
posted by ljesse at 10:07 PM on January 23, 2011

That's the Aon Center in your photo; I'd bet you were in Grant Park when you took it. There are a lot of barn swallows by the harbor, but it'd be strange to see one this late into the winter. I'd say it's a robin, since they're resident year-round.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:42 PM on January 23, 2011

Perhaps an Eastern Bluebird? You're just on the edge of their winter range, they have red-white-blue in the right proportions and positions.
posted by anaelith at 1:59 AM on January 24, 2011

I was about to post the same as ljesse...Definitely reminded me of a Towhee as soon as I saw it. Chicago is easily within its wintering range, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:53 AM on January 24, 2011

I will second a barn swallow. They are very common in downtown Chicago.
posted by JJ86 at 5:57 AM on January 24, 2011

Response by poster: I'm inclined to think it's a Barn Swallow.... and I re-checked the photos in the set, none of the others have any birds in them. I'll be on the lookout now.

It was a 1/250th of a second exposure, so it had to be "haulin' ass" to get that blurry.

It's definitely NOT a Popsicle, as there were no other people in the area, except for the security folks. Any pranksters with Popsicles would have made sure I noticed it at the time, to get the payoff. I didn't see it until afterwards when reviewing photos.

Of course if it was a prankster from the future with a Popsicle, then all bets are off. ;-)
posted by MikeWarot at 6:44 AM on January 24, 2011

Red Winged blackbirds *do* overwinter in New York (City) they're all over the place in Flushing Meadows park - according to Wikipedia's map, they will in Chicago too. Barn swallows don't overwinter in northern climates - at least usually - according to wikipedia and my bird book. To me it looks much more like a red winged blackbird than a barn swallow anyway (can't see any blue black) or a robin (a robin has more red, no black *) the beige/white patches might be large, but travelling at speed, that could be exaggerated in the photo . Plus the red epaulettes get less red outside of breeding season.

I could see towhee as a good guess too. but I actually think it is a red-winged blackbird.

* I just found out the American robin's scientific name is Turdus migratorius!
posted by xetere at 8:59 AM on January 24, 2011

Mod note: answers saying the bird is a popsicle will be considered jokes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:39 AM on January 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

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