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Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Will County, IL

overcast 70 °F

This afternoon, I drove to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in search of grassland and scrubland bird species — I also wanted to focus on photography and get some nice pics.

One of the first birds I noticed upon arriving was a very obliging DICKCISSEL, there were dozens of these around today:
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Another abundant bird was the FIELD SPARROW:
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At one point, this male EASTERN BLUEBIRD graced me with his presence:
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Turns out, he was bringing that fly he had in his mouth to chicks in a nesting cavity! Super cool to see this species nesting in a natural tree cavity.
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GRASSHOPPER SPARROW is always super fun to observe:
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EASTERN KINGBIRD:
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One of my target birds for the day, BELL’S VIREO, was found by hearing it originally from the car. I promptly parked the car alongside the road and located this obliging male singing his pretty little heart out:
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BROWN THRASHER:
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Joined by his or her mate:
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Male EASTERN MEADOWLARK. I searched, but failed to find their rarer Western counterpart.
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This male BOBOLINK gave some absolutely gorgeous views.
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This female showed nicely as well, demonstrating the strong sexual dimorphism of the species:
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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Its relative the WILLOW FLYCATCHER:
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A few migrant flycatchers, ALDER & YELLOW-BELLIED, were also heard but not seen. Additionally, I heard the crowing of upwards of seven RING-NECKED PHEASANTS but didn’t manage to find a single one. Another good heard-only bird was a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO.

Male ORCHARD ORIOLE:
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I did see my “life mammal” Long-tailed Weasel right near where I found the oriole, but unfortunately he or she bounded away too fast for any photos. Another mammal that certainly wasn’t too fast for photos, though, was this American Bison, one of the semi-wild population that was recently reintroduced to Midewin. Who knew that Bison could be found roaming just an hour’s drive from Chicago?! Awesome.
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An often-overlooked mammal, the Eastern Cottontail:
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Butterfly sp:
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Midewin was the former home of the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, and structures like these can sporadically be seen peaking out of the otherwise-pristine scrubland & grassland landscape.
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A male INDIGO BUNTING to end the day:
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Bird-of-the-day to the Bell’s Vireo, with runners-up to Grasshopper Sparrow & Ring-necked Pheasant. Good stuff!

Happy birding,
Henry
World Life List: 971 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:28 Archived in USA

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Nice Henry! I took a tour out this morning to SCP (a donation from a raffle) and we had some good birds as well, yellow-breasted chat, Bullock’s orioles and returning common nighthawks. Just over 50 species. And we ended our day as well with an indigo bunting at a feeder in Hailey!
Bird On
Poo

by Poo

Great pictures Henry. The Bluebird nesting in a natural cavity is tremendous.

by Mory Jahangir

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