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03/28/10
Spring (and snow) arrives in Illinois
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Illinois, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 8:52 am

Some important family business caused us to fly up to Illinois in early March, a month earlier than usual. It has been our practice to delay our return to coincide with the onset of spring migration (and our granddaughters’ dance recital!). Although temperatures dropped below freezing almost every night, we were surprised that most days were sunny and mild.

Although the landscape appeared brown and barren, there were certain signs of the change of seasons. During the weeks prior to the arrival of spring, ducks were suddenly present in most bodies of water near our second home.

A pair of Common Goldeneyes race down Fox River at Lippold Park in Kane County, Illinois:

Common Goldeneyes in flight 20100312

A lone female shows off her “golden eye:”

Female Common Goldeneye in flight

In a small pond near our condo, the sun behind this Canvasback accents its unique profile:

Canvasback 20100316

A pair of Lesser Scaup swims nearby…

Lesser Scaup 20100316

…along with a Hooded Merganser:

Hooded Merganser 20100316

As they have done for the past eight years, American White Pelicans, on their northward journey, stopped off at Nelson Lake. The plates or “horns” that protrude from their bills signify the approach of the breeding season:

American White Pelicans 2-20100319

The woodlands along the lake harbor several White-breasted Nuthatches. Here, one assumes its typical pose:

White-breasted Nuthatch 20100316

A male Northern Cardinal had been engaged in a lovely duet with his mate, until we interrupted his singing. Here he eyes us suspiciously:

Male Northern Cardinal 20100317

Unlike most perching birds, female cardinals sing a descant while the male leads. This one shows considerable wear on her tail feathers, which will be retained until after the nesting season:

Female Northern Cardinal 20100317

A Song Sparrow provided us with an unusually good view:

Song Sparrow 20100314

In the prairie west of the lake, an Eastern Meadowlark gives us a “salute:”

Eastern Meadowlark 2-20100315

On the first day of spring, snow blankets the abandoned construction site in front of our condo in North Aurora, IL. Only days earlier, I watched as a female Horned Lark completed construction of its nest, about 50 feet out from our doorstep:

View frim Condo MAR 20 2010

Using our car as a blind, we watched the male Horned Lark sing from the ground near the nest site:

Horned Lark 20100316

Continuing to sing, he then flew up on a post right in front of us. We were surprised at how “fat” he looked:

Horned Lark 3-20100316

This Red-tailed Hawk, with an unusually light breast, has an active nest nearby:

Red-tailed Hawk 20100317

10 Responses to “Spring (and snow) arrives in Illinois”

  1. Müge Says:
    Amazing shots! So many birds observed just within one single day! Very impressive!
  2. Wren Says:
    Quite a lovely collection and a great variety for BPW, Ken. Thanks for that note about the female cardinal. I hadn’t known that. The nuthatch is so cute! Those sharp little eyes and upturned beak always give an impression of humor and insight. Not bad for one of our feathered friends.
  3. Neil Says:
    What a great lot of beautiful birds you have.
  4. Larry Jordan Says:
    You’ve got to love the springtime Ken. You have some gorgeous photos here. They are all exceptional but the in-flight shots of the Common Goldeneyes are superb and the Meadowlard salute is priceless. Great view of the “horns” on the Horned Lark too. Plus I never knew about the horns on the pelicans. Very cool.
  5. Lana Says:
    So many awesome birds. Thanks for sharing!
  6. Mick Says:
    You have a great variety of birds around you there. It looks cold!
  7. Amy Says:
    Very nice series of pics! I love the Meadowlark salute, too funny!
  8. Eileen Says:
    Great shots of all the birds. My favorite is of the Meadowlark. I do not get to see them often around here.
  9. phil Says:
    As usual your pictures are spot on. Yes, it’s hard to pick a favourite but the Song Sparrow is perfect. And how nice to recognise a sparrow with a song.
  10. Nicole Says:
    Gosh, what a wonderful collection! Are you lucky or what? :D Love those Golden eyes, wow! And nope, no favorite for me, love, love them all :) Cheers from South Sinai!

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