Breeding birds at the Chicago Portage

Young Rabbit

I dropped by the Portage early this morning trying to beat the heat – we went up to 97 degrees today. After I was greeted by this rabbit, I saw 39 species. Not remarkable, but not bad given the strange weather we’ve been having. There has been no rain lately, so the water level is way down at the Portage and the nearby Des Plaines River.

But breeding birds have returned, and I managed to get some pictures of a few. Almost from the very beginning I heard Red-Bellied Woodpeckers calling, so perhaps it was inevitable that one would be available for a photograph.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The House Wrens are back in full force too.

House Wren

A female Wood Duck sat on a log with her seven ducklings. I imagine the youngest was staying closest to mama.

A Great Blue Heron flew over faster than I could get its likeness clearly. But down below, one of the two Green Herons that I have seen here every summer was trying to stay cool.

Green Heron

Indigo Buntings were singing everywhere, and doing their best to elude the camera. Here’s one not completely hidden.

Male Indigo Bunting

I have been awaiting the return of Cedar Waxwings.

Cedar Waxwings

Song Sparrows are on their territories, singing, of course.

Song Sparrow

It’s sad when I think of this beautiful Yellow Warbler…

Yellow Warbler

being a favorite prey species of the female Brown-Headed Cowbird. Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests so the other birds can raise them, often at the peril of their own offspring. Note how this Cowbird matched the twig she’s behind so well, it looks like part of her.

Female Brown-Headed Cowbird

On my way out I stopped on the north bridge, where I saw the other Green Heron in the distance, but my attention was drawn to two Great-Crested Flycatchers setting up housekeeping. Look carefully and you can see the male sitting below left and the female hanging out from a cavity at the right of the frame.

Great-Crested Flycatchers

The male flycatcher remained on lookout while his mate investigated the cavity in the dead tree for nesting possibilities.

Great-Crested Flycatcher

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