This morning around 9:00 am, Barbara and I met Marj Lundy and Jamie Godshalk at Bloom School to check out the Mississippi Kites. Barbara and I arrived first, and spotted a male and female MIKI in the dead branches of the Siberian Elm that is behind the dumpster. After a few minutes, the male flew to the southwest and the female across Grenham to the west. In about 15 minutes, after Marj and Jamie arrived, the male flew in from the SW carrying a Chimney Swift in his talons. He perched in the Siberian Elm and began to pluck the swift. Shortly thereafter, the female flew in, landed next to the male, and he passed the swift to her, then flew away again. She proceeded to pluck and eat it over the next 30 minutes.

At about 9:45, the male reappeared and flew over, circling over the female for a while. While that was happening, Barbara spotted a 3rd kite to the west. It, too, was soaring high in the sky.

No other raptors were seen while we were at Bloom.

From Bloom, we drove up to Nygren. The large flock of Am. White Pelicans was absent from the marsh, but 5 were soaring overhead. Also in the marsh were 2 Great Egrets, 6 Green Herons, 5 Great Blue Herons, and other usual suspects, like Flickers, Red-headed Woodpecker, Belted Kingfishers (2), Swamp and Song Sparrows, Willow Flycatcher (in the willows on the east side of the marsh), and 2 Marsh Wrens. In the prairie that is north and east of the marsh, we had Sedge Wrens (probably 5 heard), lots of Common Yellowthroats, and a really tame Henslow’s Sparrow that was sitting on top of a dead plant within 20 feet of us and which singing during the entire time (5+ minutes) that we watched him.

A number of people have commented to me that they are having difficulty finding Sedge Wrens, particularly in late May and June. I finally found some. Today, there were at least 4 calling Sedge Wrens at Nygren Wetland Preserve. They were in the prairie south of the barns and east of the gravel service road.

The main gate at Nygren will be open to the public on Saturday from 9:00-3:00 for Wildflower Weekend. You will be able to park by the barns and walk down the road (much closer than walking all of the way from the overlook parking lot). Plus, the wildflowers are really putting on a good show right now, so come out to Nygren and enjoy the wildflowers and birds on Saturday. Nygren will be open on Sunday during the same hours, but there will not be displays or programs.

There were also 6 White Pelicans in the marsh around 11:30 this morning. I heard that there have been up to 25 individuals there.

On Friday morning, I birded a long loop at Lowden Miller that started at Parking lot #2, headed generally toward the river with various twists and turns, then took the long stretch along the Rock River from #31 to #29, then back uphill in the general direction of #3, and finally the last segment from #3 to #2. I managed to find 61 species. Highlights were 2 Kentucky, 3 Pine, and 2 Yellow-throated Warblers, 14 Ovenbirds (they are still singing from everywhere in the forest), 4 Acadian Flycatchers 1 White-eyed Vireo and 4 Yellow-billed Cuckoos, which were also being very vocal. Although I generally don’t regard Yellow-throated Vireos as particularly noteworthy, they have not been singing from our woods this summer, so I was pleased to hear 2 of them during my hike. I did not hear or see the Black-throated Green Warblers reported several days earlier, but those could have been on one of the many other trails. Likewise, I didn’t hear or see any of the other unusual warblers (Parula, Black & White, Mourning, Cerulean, Hooded) that have been in the forest in past years.

This morning, Phil Doncheck and I birded Rock Cut SP and Kieselburg Forest Preserve. At Rock Cut, we walked a long loop. Starting at the dam parking lot, we headed west down the paved rec trail, then turned north at the mountain bike trail that enters from the right. Where that trail comes to a “T” intersection, we turned left (W) again and continued until the first trail junction which goes left, back toward the paved trail. At the paved trail, we turned right and followed it across the 1st bridge. Before the second bridge, we turned left into the old forest preserve. Finally, we rejoined the Rock Cut trail up the hill on the paved road past the old shelter house and returned to the main park loop road near the bathrooms at the large picnic area south of the dam. (Whew!)

Highlights were Cerulean, Hooded, and Kentucky warblers, all seen well, plus Acadian Flycatchers, 2 Scarlet Tanagers, and at least 4 calling Yellow-billed Cuckoos. Last Tuesday, 6/17, I had a Black-billed Cuckoo and 2 Veerys along the Rock Cut trail portion, but we didn’t see or hear them today.

A Yellow-breasted Chat was calling from the tree line at the south end of the north entrance prairie. 3 Willow Flycatchers were also singing there. No Sedge Wrens yet, though.

From there, we headed over to Hart Road. The old hay field had 3 singing Henslow’s Sparrows. A Redstart was singing from the area of the large oak tree to the west of the equestrian trail.

At Kieselburg, highlights were a Bell’s Vireo in the thickets along the south edge of the Sedge Fen. A Henslow’s Sparrow was singing from the grassy area south of the model plane flying field. Again, no Sedge Wrens were heard in the Sedge Fen. Maybe in July?

Yesterday, June 19, Anne Straight posted on IBET that she had seen a family of 4 Loggerhead Shrikes on Spring Lake Road, immediately south of Ayer’s Prairie, in Carroll County. There were 2 adults and 2 juveniles. This road borders the airport, which is on IL 84.

After my BBS route today, which ended north of Shannon, IL, I drove to Savanna to look for the shrike family and found them, still on Spring Lake Road as Anne had described. I first had 1 adult feeding a fence lizard to a begging chick. The chick could fly and was following the adult around begging to be fed. It was pretty interesting to watch the shrike slice and dice the lizard into bite size chunks for the chick. Then, I found a second adult about 100 yards further north on the road, and it flew into a thicket of Black Locusts. I assume that the other juvenile was hiding in the thicket.

Jeff Donaldson and I checked out Bell Bowl around noon today. Because of our late start, we figured that a lot of birds might be quiet. We did not find any Blue Grosbeaks. We did find a Bell’s Vireo (how appropriate), 3 Bob-o-links, up to 6 Grasshopper Sparrows, 2 Savannah Sparrows, and many, many Dickcissels. I fear that the latter birds will be out of business as soon as the tenant farmer mows the alfalfa field at the top of the prairie slope.

Saw, & heard a Blue Grosbeak along Severson Road Wed. 6/4 in the area of the 2nd BB house. Was seen as we were checking the BB boxes about 10:00 a.m.

There were still about 60 to 70 pelicans down by Oregon yesterday. They were fishing just below the dam.

I took a quick hike down the paved recreation path below the dam at Pierce Lake this morning. I walked down to the first bridge and back. I was pleased to find 11 species of warblers, including spectacular male Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Blackpoll and Canada, plus 7 different Chestnut-sided, 5 of which were males, and 3 Blue-winged Warblers. Also along the trail was a singing Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, a Philadelphia Vireo, and a number of singing and tootling Wood Thrushes, Towhees.

IMG_4487_edited-1Who knew that they would come to the oranges and grape jelly that we’ve put out for the orioles and tanagers? This was our surprise visitor this afternoon. After a long cold winter, ┬áspring migration is wonderful!

 

Barbara & Daniel Williams

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