Raptor Review at the Chicago Portage

Back on August 23rd when I went to the Chicago Portage there wasn’t a lot happening on the ground. It was a warm, sunny day, but it was quiet. Two American Robins sat still on a log in the duckweed-covered water.

A Tawny Emperor Butterfly sat quietly on cement.

Even the American Goldfinches were quiet.

At one point I spotted an enterprising White-breasted Nuthatch.

A juvenile Baltimore Oriole spent a lot of time figuring out his feathers.

And a young-looking Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was thinking about migration. This could be the last time I saw this species.

First one, and then two, Wood Ducks appeared, quietly.

I had just about given up on my visit when I heard the cry of a Red-tailed Hawk. I looked up to the sky, but I didn’t see the Red-tailed Hawk. Instead I saw Turkey Vultures. They kept coming. I counted five of them, but was only able to barely capture two in one frame.

Then a Cooper’s Hawk flew over, soaring, giving me a lot of its flight in pictures.

And then the Red-tailed Hawk appeared. It also put on quite a performance.

Just when I thought I’d seen everything, an adult Osprey and an adult Bald Eagle were both in the same air space. The very last photograph all the way down at the bottom of the series below was the best I could get of the two of them in one shot.

Bald Eagle

It’s unusual enough to see any one of these birds, but all of them in succession on one clear day was quite a treat.


So you never know what you will find when it comes to birds. I am still in shock over the sight of five Turkey Vultures at once.

The last couple days have been quieter too, migration-wise, but I have had some nice encounters and I hope to be back sooner than later. We are getting a little rain for a change and a cold front has moved in, allowing me the luxury of keeping the windows open for the remainder of the Labor Day weekend. I am quite aware this is not perfect holiday weather for some people, but I am glad to get a break from the heat and humidity.

And just for the heck of it, here’s a Downy Woodpecker in my yard suggesting I fill one of the suet feeders. These photos are left over from a couple posts ago when I featured my Ruby-throated Hummingbird girls.

A Downy settled for peanuts later. I’m not sure if this is the same individual.

Fall migration marches on. It’s good to have the sense of something we can still count on.

6 thoughts on “Raptor Review at the Chicago Portage

  1. Really nice photos of the hawks in flight. You even found some wood ducks. Did you enthralled all your Saturday morning bird walkers? Find a lifer or two for your participants. Tennessee, Redstart and Pine warblers at Portage as well as a still lingering female rose-breasted grosbeak. Maybe a gray-cheeked thrush in a tree posed for me. Well there are more birds to pass through Chicago.

    • Thanks. Saturday morning wasn’t too spectacular but we had a lot of nice-looking Red-eyed Vireos. I also had Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Yellow, Bay-breasted, Black-and-White and a Northern Waterthrush this morning at the Portage but it seemed like the big event was the beginning of the Pokeberry Festival for Cedar Waxwings. There were a couple Gray-cheeked and several Swainson’s. I keep hearing and never seeing that Yellow-billed Cuckoo… Did not see your grosbeak but I will keep my eye on the Pokeberries, I had some in that a year or two ago.

      • Nice collection of warblers. I still find those fall warblers a challenge even with a picture. I have also seen several large groups of cedar waxwings at Portage. Both groups were 20 plus in number.

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