We got our first hazy views of the Chicago skyline during our final approach to Midway Airport.
We were out early the first morning, visiting Nelson Lake/Dick Young Kane County Forest Preserve in Batavia, near our second home. Temperatures quickly rose from the high 40s (F) at sunrise, into the high 60s by 9:00 AM. A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak surprised us by singing its spring song and provided drop-dead views of its now-subdued fall plumage.
Song Sparrows are completely alien to south Florida:
Amid the sparrow flock was this White-throated Sparrow:
An upside-down White-breasted Nuthatch, another bird we never see in our Florida neighborhood, entertained us with its foraging antics:
Cedar Waxwings abounded at Hawk's Bluff Park near our daughter's home in Batavia.
The adult waxwings are handsome, almost stately in appearance,...
...but the youngsters have a ways to go before presenting themselves as ambassadors of the bird kingdom:
While I was watching the waxwings in a berry bush, a Scarlet Tanager suddenly popped out of the foliage.
At Lippold Park along the Fox River, a Great Egret, a Florida throwback, sprung up from the shallows.
This Hairy Woodpecker is distinguished from the similar but smaller Downy Woodpecker by its proportionally longer bill and absence of black markings on its outer tail feathers.
Last year we were very disappointed when the land around the secluded pond at Lippold Park was cleared of understory and the landscape was scraped and graded. The results turned out to be remarkably pleasing and hopefully will continue to be welcoming to wildlife and visitors alike.
We formerly had to slog through wetlands and Poison Ivy to get to the river bank, but now there is a boardwalk that borders the pond and branches off to the river's edge.
A Red-tailed Hawk watched us from the distance...
...then lofted into flight:
I could go on and on, but will save more of my photos for another post as I must move on to the main subject, best understood by viewing this video which I prepared to memorialize the event.
Of course we have all heard about a "gaggle" of geese, a "murder" of crows, a "murmuration" of starlings, and so forth, but now I can only describe the vortex that descended into this chimney as a "swizillion" of swifts.
If the video does not appear in the space below, please link to Chimney Swifts of St Charles, Illinois. Best viewed in full screen mode. Enjoy!