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August 2, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Where have all the birds gone?

On my last few walks to the park, birds have been scarce. With the exception of Robins, Song Sparrows and Goldfinches, which are abundant right now, they weren’t making much noise either. During a slightly longer than an hour walk this morning, I only spotted 13 species. That is a low number for me.

Busy raising the kids

Birds are still out there, just not calling attention to themselves. In the spring the males are visible with their brilliant breeding plumage and day-long singing to attract a mate. Now that the babies have hatched and left the nest, parents are busy with child-reading duties.

American Robin

This robin was gently clucking at a young bird hiding in the brush. They continue to feed the youngsters, while at the same time teach them to find food on their own.

A Great Blue Heron at the pond

Some of the trails down to the pond have become overgrown, limiting where I am willing walk. I don’t mind pushing through high grass, but these plants are as tall as I am, and the biting bugs were out in full force. So I opted not to disturb them and observed from a distance.

Grat Blue Heron

A lone Great Blue Heron soared into the willow tree overlooking the pond. I love watching them fly. They look almost prehistoric.

Sadly, the nearby heron rookery where I monitor birds has been abandoned. This is the first year the birds choose not to come back. A huge dead tree which contained the majority of their nests fell down during a winter storm, plus water levels in the river have been low, resulting in less fish. There is another rookery a few miles away, but I wonder if the birds know to move there, or if they are even welcome.

Many butterflies on the prairie

Monarch on Swamp Milkweed

Butterflies were plentiful. I just can’t stop taking photos of the Monarchs. This one was feasting on Swamp Milkweed. I have seen a lot of Monarchs this year, including many in my own backyard. I like to believe their increased number has something to do with the forest preserve’s prairie management program, along with home gardeners, planting more milkweed.

Mystery Butterfly

Not sure what kind of butterfly this is. It was very tiny, about an inch and a half long. Anyone know?

Young Cottontail

Young Cottontail

As I reached the end of the prairie, I spotted a young Cottontail Rabbit sitting along the edge of the path, wisely hiding in the tall plants. Rabbits are prey animals, and are food for a variety of carnivores, including large birds such as hawks and owls.

Migration will begin soon

The number of bird species in the area will begin to increase in the next few weeks as early migrants make their way south for the winter. Until then, I will continue to enjoy the summer and year-round residents.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Sandra Nachlinger / Aug 2 2014 1:12 pm

    Gorgeous photos, as always! I look forward to seeing the beautiful birds, butterflies, and other wildlife you feature each week.


  2. mdott922 / Aug 2 2014 1:19 pm

    Great pictures…I especially like the cottontail! Thanks for sharing!


  3. diane / Aug 2 2014 3:29 pm

    I love that you take the time to share your findings with us. (I miss not seeing bunnies).


    • Leslie / Aug 2 2014 6:32 pm

      Thanks. I love seeing little bunnies as long as they are not in my yard eating my herbs and veggies. This youngster was eating clover, as all good bunnies should.


  4. Sue / Aug 2 2014 4:04 pm

    The butterfly is a skipper, but I’m not sure which kind. There are many species of them, and many that look quite a bit alike. Sorry, not a butterfly expert.


    • Leslie / Aug 2 2014 6:28 pm

      Thanks, that was a good place for me to start. I had never seen one of these before and was clueless. A few minutes with google and I found it’s most likely a Hobomok Skipper.


  5. Anne / Aug 2 2014 5:44 pm

    Ah, such a sweet photo of the cottontail.


  6. Louise / Aug 2 2014 6:14 pm

    Great photos as always Leslie. Such a shame about the changes to your local heron rookery. I’m really intrigued by that butterfly- I’ve never seen anything like those double wings.


    • Leslie / Aug 2 2014 6:36 pm

      I was worried when the herons didn’t return, there are other trees to build nests in, but they are still plentiful in other parts of the county. The greater problem may be the low river levels and diminished amount of fish for feeding their young. A project two years ago removed a beaver damn and the water levels are still low.


  7. BermudaOnion / Aug 2 2014 7:07 pm

    It wasn’t until I started following your blog that I realized birds take care of their babies after they leave the nest. Great post!


  8. Greg / Aug 2 2014 7:55 pm

    I agree about herons- when I see them fly I can almost imagine them as some prehistoric creature, just the way they look. Nice butterfly pics too- we had one on our deck the other day, large and quite distinctive, different than some I’ve seen.


  9. irene / Aug 2 2014 8:14 pm

    Wonderful walk, I haven’t seen a single monarch this year. We were just talking (my painting ladies) about raising Monarchs. Not sure how we’ll do that, but we’re looking into it.


    • Leslie / Aug 2 2014 8:40 pm

      The best thing you can do for the Monarchs is to plant Milkweed. It is their primary food source and the only plant they lay their eggs on. Although Monarchs will take nectar from many flowers, the caterpillars only eat Milkweed.


  10. Arti / Aug 3 2014 12:42 am

    In my neck of the woods, the most bountiful has to be sparrows and robins. My fondness is with the yellow birds though. Have only seen the goldfinch once or twice. There are warblers all around. But the leaves have to fall before I can take a good photo.


    • Leslie / Aug 3 2014 12:09 pm

      Plant sunflowers or put up a thistle feeder. They will find you! My yard is filled with them. I usually have only a few flitting around, but now that the sunflowers and coneflowers are making seeds, they brought their friends. And they sing when they eat. They are delightful to listen to – just another of the many reasons why I’d love to have summer all year round.


  11. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Aug 3 2014 2:12 pm

    Very cute bunny! I’ve been seeing lots of what looks like young sparrows foraging on the pavement of the residential areas lately. My kids are constantly worrying about me running them over, and I reassure them that they always fly away in time (crossing my fingers this stays true).


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