Spring is a sort of non-event in Florida, but it explodes on the scene here in Illinois. During the past two weeks the trees have gone from barren to green. Redbuds and fruit trees bloom profusely. I welcome the earliest wildflowers on the floor of the local woodlands. We try not to miss getting out every day to experience the rapid changes.
Cries of migrating Sandhill Cranes fill the air:
It wouldn’t be spring without Black-capped Chickadees…
…or a groundhog (Woodchuck) just out of its den:
Mourning Cloak butterfly adults survive through winter by hiding in hollow trees, under bark or in brush piles, hibernating in a state of suspended animation known as cryo-preservation. Many do not make it, especially if the winter is too damp and warm, or if their hiding place fails to protect them from fierce wind and predators. They are usually the first butterflies to appear in spring.
This Mourning Cloak’s wings are tattered, probably evidence of the hardships of the severe northern Illinois winter weather:
Some violets are blooming the first week in April…
…as are the Daffodils…
I was lucky to capture the extended firey crest of this Ruby-crowned Kinglet, excited by the presence of another singing male nearby:
The delicate White Trout Lily is one of my favorite early spring flowers:
Back in my my New Jersey childhood days of the 1940s, American Robins were rarely seen before the beginning of March, and were heralded as the first sign of spring. In response to climate change, they, like many other migrants, are spending winter farther north.
This male robin was engaged in a territorial battle with an interloper, while his mate gathered mud at the edge of a puddle:
The Wake Robin (Trillium) also blooms before the middle of April:
Killdeers already have laid their eggs close by last year’s nest site. This one performs a distraction display, writhing as if injured, and flashing its bright orange tail and rump to lure me away from the nest:
The pair of Cooper’s Hawks that I have been observing for the past three years is again nesting in Hawk’s Bluff Park, Batavia:
Near the hawk’s nest, a Hairy Woodpecker (distinguished from the smaller Downy Woodpecker by it longer bill and unbarred outer tail feathers) climbs an old oak:
Sparrows are some of my favorite subjects, maybe because seeing them takes patience rather than a lot of walking. This Song Sparrow sings his heart out:
The demure Field Sparrow, with a plain face and reddish beak, also puts a great deal of effort into its distinctive accelerating trilled whistle:
A Vesper Sparrow was singing on the roof of our condo early in the morning, and flew to a weedy spot near the road. I used the car as a blind to get my best views of this species to date:
While I watched the Vesper Sparrow, a Horned Lark happened by: