We are now at our second home in NE Illinois, enjoying a respite from south Florida's heat and humidity. We wasted no time getting out on crisp and cool mornings, but found that this time of year is not ideal for birding. Local resident species are undergoing a post-breeding molt. With few exceptions, they are conserving energy and hiding out.
Some may already be heading south. To our distress, we found no Bobolinks or Dickcissels in the prairies of local preserves. We looked for Henslow's and Grasshopper Sparrows but found none. We hope to catch the front end of fall songbird migration before returning to Florida.
A ragged Field Sparrow suddenly perched on a flower stalk.
American Goldfinches provided most of the action, singing and rollicking all around. They have waited for the thistles and milkweed to go to seed and furnish the down for nests and seeds for nestlings.
I came across a female goldfinch sitting tight on an unusually deep-looking nest not far off the path. You must look closely to even see her.
This Song Sparrow was waiting for us to move away before flying down to feed a nestling.
Seven Caspian Terns rested on the shore of a small retention pond near our home. Note that the second from the right has a leg band, and that the next one to the left has a shorter and paler bill and mottled plumage that identifies it as an immature bird.
Lippold Park, along the east bank of the Fox River, was more productive. We hoped to see some early warblers, to no avail. Black-capped Chickadees foraged in the large oak trees.
A male Northern Cardinal peered at us through the understory.
Indigo Buntings sang and did their best to hide among the leaves.
When one did come out into the open, the strong light made it difficult to capture its deep blue plumage against the sky.
A Solitary Sandpiper probed the mud flats along the river.
An Osprey coursed over the river...
...followed by an adult Bald Eagle.
One morning a male American Kestrel roosted on a street light next to our condo. Despite my "pishing" and squeaking I could not get it to look my way!