Sandhill Cranes - photo by Geoff Williamson

Sandhill Cranes - photo by Geoff Williamson

Christine and Geoff Williamson led a bird and nature hike at Deer Grove East Forest Preserve in northwest Cook County.

At the start of the walk, we had the opportunity to enjoy two parents and one young Sandhill Crane. This species has been nesting at Deer Grove for a few years now.

While we were trying to track down some Yellow-throated Vireos and Common Yellowthroats, someone’s keen eyes spotted a Northern Flicker poking her head out of a nest hole. This bird was identifiable as a female because it lacks the black “whisker mark” that characterizes the male. We did fine a pair of Yellow-throated Vireos, moving actively in a maple tree.

We also saw an American Toad. American Toads have only one or two warts in each dark spot on their upperparts. The other toad in our region, the Fowler’s Toad, has three or more warts per spot. Before the rain showers started, we were treated to views of a number of Common Whitetail dragonflies.

Our group was equipped with a spotting scope to bring the birds up-close, and several participants were toting cameras as is now common in this present age of digital photography.

One of the more numerous bird species during the outing was Indigo Bunting. Also numerous was the common yellowthroat. Much less numerous, but expected at this site, was the Red-headed Woodpecker. We got to see just one of these fine looking woodpeckers.

The many Red-winged Blackbirds included not only the males, which are the black birds with red on the wings, but also the more cryptically colored female birds. Among the flycatchers that we saw, the Eastern Kingbirds were the ones with the decided preference for foraging over open fields.

For the full report including species list, see Geoff’s website.

- post contributed by Geoff Williamson