Soon after returning from from Alaska to our second home in Illinois, I took a break from editing and reviewing the photos from the trip. Illinois weather had been quite variable, from cool and rainy to hotter than Florida. Our first stop was at Aurora West Forest Preserve, only a couple of miles from our condo. Our target bird was the Clay-colored Sparrow that nested there last year. We had no luck in finding the sparrow, but it was a delightful morning full of color and sound.
An Indigo Bunting sang a variant song from the top of a tree. Mary Lou and I had heard this same bird before we left for Alaska. Instead of the usual series of coupled warbling notes, this bird repeated two wheezy phrases that sounded like “Wree-Wree, Wree-Wree…” etc. It definitely meant to be singing, not sounding call notes.
I like the way that the blues and greens work together in this image:
A Field Sparrow sang vigorously. Its behavior suggested that a nest was nearby, as it raised its crest anxiously, making it look as if it were wearing a red hat:
The Red-winged Blackbirds were also in an agitated state…
…flying back and forth across the path in front of us as if to distract us from fledglings hidden in the high grass:
The blackbirds directed their ire at another trespasser; a Red-tailed Hawk endured repeated bombardment by four or five Red-wings:
One actually landed on the hawk’s back:
Two mornings later, we moved on to Dick Young Forest Preserve/Nelson Lake Marsh in nearby Batavia, birding the tallgrass prairie on the north side of the Preserve. Here, our target birds were Henslow’s Sparrows, Bobolinks and Sedge Wrens. We dipped on the sparrows and wrens, but did see Bobolinks.
Overhead, a Great Blue Heron drifted by lazily:
American Goldfinches were everywhere:
A pair of Killdeers guarded their three chicks, two of which are seen here:
Song Sparrows added to the morning chorus:
Common Yellowthroats were… well, common:
The yellowthroats, usually reclusive, were singing from perches in full view:
I always try to get as much of a Bobolink’s back and face in the photo as possible, not always easy to do:
On the drive home, we saw two adult Red-tailed Hawks sharing a roost on a street light: