New “yard birds” for our summer home in northeastern Illinois, this family group of three Sandhill Cranes showed up at a flooddle in our front yard, which is actually a vacant lot. They looked so white that I thought for a moment they were Whooping Cranes. I took this photo through the upstairs window of our condo, hence the poor quality:
During a fun-filled but rainy weekend at Starved Rock, in Utica Illinois, we got in a little birding between the raindrops while our granddaughters played all day in the huge indoor water park at Grizzly Jack’s resort.
We welcomed the sight of bluebirds, which have already abandoned our area of the state, only about 50 miles to the north:
Visible from the north side of the river, a flock of American White Pelicans fished cooperatively. They moved in a tight formation:
Finally, together, they herded a school of fish and feasted:
We have enjoyed beautiful weather this fall, but the past week our birding was curtailed by one of the worst wind storms ever to hit the Midwest. While we were holed up by the wind and cold I spent time observing the bird feeder in our daughter’s back yard, in Batavia. Dark-eyed Juncos have arrived in large numbers.
This junco has a very dark, almost black hood, a color variation more common in the Canadian Rockies:
Here is a male “Slate-colored” Junco with more typical plumage. Note its pale pink bill:
The adult female “Slate-colored” shows more brown on her back and sides:
Of course, there were House Sparrows, a species that we do not have in our South Florida neighborhood:
We had time to notice the blue eyelids of a Mourning Dove, framed by the wrought iron fence…
As soon as the weather broke, we headed over to Nelson Lake/Dick Young Forest Preserve to see whether the cold front had brought in any unusual birds.
The morning sun reflects off the white breast of the (what else?) White-breasted Nuthatch:
We then took our grandchildren to the playground at nearby Jones Meadow Park in North Aurora. After I had checked out the retention pond, our 6 year old granddaughter called my attention to a “Greed” diving among the Canada Geese.
Sure enough, she had spotted a Pied-billed Grebe that I had overlooked:
While Mary Lou supervised the girls, I stole off a short way down the path. As I was looking at a Hermit Thrush, a Lincoln’s Sparrow popped up in a small willow not more than 15 feet away. This species breeds to the north, and passes through Illinois to winter in the southern states.
The Lincoln’s Sparrow was in perfect light, and it posed for nearly a minute (click on photo for additional views):