Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer and Dickcissels on the Illinois prairie

Midsummer days in Illinois have often reached higher temperatures than those back home in south Florida, but the humidity is not quite as uncomfortable.

We sought out the shade in nearby Fabyan Preserve, Geneva, Illinois. I so enjoyed this sun-dappled spot in the Japanese Garden, a photo of which I rendered  as an oil painting:

Japanese Garden OIL 04-20170719

Nelson Lake in Batavia, Illinois reflects the blue sky as a Caspian Tern flies over:

Caspian Tern over Nelson Lake 20170718

Mary Lou appears lost in a sea of wildflowers in the Nelson Lake prairie preserve:

Wildflowers and MaryLou 20170714

A Red-winged Blackbird calls from a post:

Red-winged Blackbird 20170721

A diminutive Sage Wren is back-lit by the bright sun as it sings cheerfully:

Sedge Wren HD 01-20170702

The Sage Wren often closes his eyes while singing, as if truly enjoying the sound of his voice:

Sedge Wren 02-20170714

Common Yellowthroats sing "witchity-witchity..."

Common Yellowthroat 3-20120705

A common summer inhabitant of the grasslands of the central US, the Dickcissel is uncommonly beautiful. Its song is a cheerful iteration of its name, repeated from the tops of shrubs and fence posts. Their abundance in the prairies near our second home in northeastern Illinois may vary from one season to another.

Dickcissels spend the winter in southern Mexico south into northern South America, where they can be agricultural pests, feasting on seed crops and inviting measures to eradicate them. They tend to arrive north later in Spring than many other neotropical migrants, sometimes not appearing in numbers until rather late in May. During breeding season their diet shifts from grain to predominately insects.

Dickcissel on twig 02-20170626

I've processed over 200 photos of Dickcissels and have hundreds more RAW images which I am reluctant to discard. Just this past week I re-visited this summer's collection and found an out-take which is now one of my favorites. Taken on July 2, it depicts a male Dickcissel perched above his mate, who is carrying a grasshopper for her fledglings, hidden in the high grass:

Dickcissel male and female 01-20170702

Another in the overlooked series, I passed over the following one because the bright sun cast annoying shadows on the subjects:

Dickcissel male and female 02-20170702

More recent photos from our walks at Nelson Lake:

Dickcissel 06-20170714

Dickcissel 095-20170626

This is one of the first photos I took with my new mirrorless digital camera (Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk II), fully zoomed to 300 mm:

Dickcissel MIRRORLESS 07-20170714

Dickcissel 07-20170702

Dickcissels and prairie flowers make a nice combination:

Dickcissel MIRRORLESS 01-20170714

Bee Balm and Black-eyed Susan:

 Bee Balm and BE Suzies 20170721

Purple Coneflower:

Purple Coneflower 3-20170711

The female Dickcissel is smaller and more softly colored:

Dickcissel female 3-20120716

By mid-July they usually have completed nesting and may begin departing to their wintering grounds as early as mid-August.

Dickcissels often wander erratically during migration and also may suddenly shift breeding locations. Some trickle through Florida and reach their wintering grounds by way of Cuba. Small flocks sometimes show up in south Florida during the winter months.

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display



  1. I love all birds, but the little finches hold a special place in my heart.

    Love the shot with the r/w blackbird

  2. Wonderful, beautiful birds, but it is the field of wildflowers that I like best!

  3. Kenneth, I do enjoy your photography! Those bird photos are great... and I do understand the problem of having many more images and being hesitant to discard them! I tend to save them and sometimes find a use for them. :)

  4. These are beautiful shots. Always hard for me to pic favs because you have so many award winners! And please don't discard any of those RAW files!!!!

  5. Apparently there has been an influx of extra dickissels into southern Ontario this year.

  6. I've not even heard of the dickcissel before and I'm already kind of in love with this little charmer ... your pictures obviously having a great deal to do with that. Would be lovely if an errant flock dropped into SW Florida next season. (Not a western bird I guess, so I won't put it on my Oregon wishlist. ). It is, by the way, rather chilly here for us part time Floridians! 70 to 75 ,...we come to Oregon in the summer to cool down ))

  7. Impressive shots !
    Wonderful blue shades.
    Especially I love the birds !
    My sky...

  8. Hello, pretty views of the lake and wildflowers. The Dickcissel is a beautiful bird, awesome series of photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  9. What beautiful birds and excellent photography ~ for Critters ~ ^_^

    Happy Weekend to you ~ ^_^

  10. Beautiful and scenic place. Very lovely birds.

  11. Great set of pictures - ounce for ounce wrens must really have one of the loudest voices.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  12. Beautiful, and I DO MEAN...beautiful flowers today Ken! Loved the singing wren. And all those special I see perhaps one in a blue moon, and only one. And it never stays put long enough for more than one photo...where you have a great ALBUM of them. Excellent.

    Thanks so much for sharing this bit of your life of birding with wonderful narration and linking in this week at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

    PS...hopefully, while on North Padre Island [my area of the world] you will find the elusive White Morph Reddish Egret. They're here all year long.

  13. Really enjoyed your Dickcissel shots, Kenneth. Fabulous! I was blessed to see one here in south Texas this past spring. I hope they return. Have a wonder-filled week!

  14. So lovely! Love all the wildflowers!

  15. Really interesting post Kenneth, and now I have learned about a bird I didn't know existed, and excellent photos too.
    All the best, Gordon.

  16. So many stunning images of wonderful birds and wild flowers. The blackbird looks so strange with its red stripe on its wing. I am so used to seeing them all black. Have a wonderful Wednesday in your part of the World.

  17. Hello Ken!:) I have never heard of the Dickcissel, but it is such an attractive bird, and your images are beautiful. I love the ones where both male and female are in the same frame, but all your captures are stunning. I love the back-lit wren shot.:)

  18. I haven't seen a redwing blackbird in years - we live in an area where there are for more trees than fields, not the right habitat. I enjoyed seeing these shots.
    Thanks for linking up at

  19. Wow! You got some stunning bird photos.


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