After such a long, cold winter, I am especially looking forward to the gifts that migration brings.
Each day is a present just waiting to be opened. Here in Illinois, we can see more than 400 different bird species. Some are local residents, but most are just passing through. Starting in March and lasting through June, millions of birds will be heading north through Illinois to their breeding grounds.
First to move through are the ducks, then blackbirds, kinglets, shorebirds, herons, egrets, and finally the big show, warblers! If you don’t know what warblers are, I suggest you look them up; after you see your first one in the wild, you will be hooked. These tiny gems are a wonder to behold. I saw my first warbler of the year yesterday, a yellow-rumped warbler (one of the most common of the species). I’ve seen them hundreds of times, yet I was just as thrilled yesterday as I was the first time I saw one. I guess I’m hooked.
The Chicago Botanic Garden is a hot spot for migrant activity. With the advantage of water, woods, and prairie, it is an attractive spot for a large variety of birds. I’ve seen more than 200 species of birds at the Garden, and just this past week I was treated to migrating red-breasted mergansers, coots, and grebes. Plus, it was fun to see the resident birds returning from their winter in warmer climates, like grackles, red-winged blackbirds, and great blue herons. The goldfinches were also getting their breeding colors back after dulling down for the winter. Spring may be slow to get going this year, but the garden is full of colorful birds!
A fun way to spend the day is to grab a field guide, a pair of binoculars, or a camera, and see how many different species you can find and identify. There is even a ledger at the front desk to record your finds. If you need help, you can sign up for a bird walk and learn from an expert.
Migration is one of the greatest miracles on Earth, and is here for all of us to enjoy.
©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org
One thought on “The miracle that is migration”
This is a wonderful post and so useful. Thank-you. Your photos are particularly beautiful. I have a great Canon with a long range lens and am so trying to learn how to get pics of birds. Its ‘darn-near’ next to impossible, ;)’ So I have so much respect for your work. I have a beautiful large woodpecker that I have my tri-pod all set up in hope to capture one day.
By the way is Tom Soulsby still at the Botanic Garden?
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