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Birding the Illinois River Trail: April 26, 2008

From the boardwalk, we watched two tree swallows soak up some morning sunshine.  They seemed to be spreading their wings to maximize the warmth from the sun.  They perched on the branches for several minutes which allowed for casual viewing and snapping a few good images. 

Prothonotary Warbler

In the above images, you can see how close to the water this small warbler makes its home within marsh and swamp land. 

Prothonotary Warbler

As we walked down the path through the woodland near the swamp, Pete thought he heard a Baltimore oriole.

Pete tried a little trick by playing his iPod with bird calls and a small speaker that he carried in a large pocket.  Pete queued up the call of a Baltimore oriole.  Then, within seconds, a  Baltimore oriole, called back.

The downside was that it was perhaps 40 feet directly above us.  Oddly enough, this made for difficult viewing, as the angle required assuming the form of a contortionist.   but in the morning sun, the bright colors were worth it. 



                                  Baltimore Oriole

Pete explaining local birds to our UK guests

As we kept walking south, down the woodland path, we came out to the Cooper Park entrance.  A pair of killdeer and a white-crowned sparrow were at the edge of the parking lot. 

 White-crowned Sparrow                                                                    Killdeer

 Solitary Sandpiper

We watched the sandpiper above for a considerable amount of time.  Most of the time, it was in the shadows of the marsh and difficult to see.  But, eventually we came to a consensus that it was a solitary sandpiper

Northern Waterthrush

For a long time, we had difficulties getting a good view of the waterthrush.  All we could see was that something was occasionally moving and keeping well hidden within some fallen tree branches.  At first we wondered if it might be a Louisiana Waterthrush instead.  But, after patiently awaiting for a better view and carefully noting the heavy stripping, Pete felt that it was a Northern Waterthrush.  

Warbling Vireo

All morning long, we kept hearing warbling vireos.  Because these birds move about so quickly, they were very elusive and difficult to view, let along photograph.  But toward the end of our walk, Dennis was able to capture the above bird. 

American Robin on Nest

Our guests from the UK, had never seen a robin before and were interested in its nest.  As their good luck would come about, they were able to find and watch the above robin on its nest. 

All in all, despite the bone-chilling and windy conditions, we were treated to viewing over 40 species while enjoying the camaraderie from our counterparts "across the pond."

Species List

Palm Warbler

White-throated Sparrow


Yellow Warbler

Song Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Warbling Vireo

Common Yellowthroat

American Robin

Northern Cardinal

Canada Goose

House Wren


European Starling

Great Blue Heron

Brown-headed Cowbird

Mourning Dove

House Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird

Tufted Titmouse

Tree Swallow

Northern Waterthrush

Wood Duck

Solitary Sandpiper

Blue-winged Teal

Northern Flicker

Common Grackle

Black-capped Chickadee

Barn Swallow

White-breasted Nuthatch

Purple Martin

American Goldfinch

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Downy Woodpecker

Blue Jay

Hairy Woodpecker

Baltimore Oriole

Turkey Vulture

Prothonotary Warbler

Ring-billed Gull

White-crowned Sparrow


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