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Autumn Prairie

Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day with temperatures in the low 70’s, a rare treat for November. It was much too beautiful a day to be indoors so I grabbed my camera and went for a walk in the Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve, an 80-acre remnant prairie, wetland, and savanna complex.

Wolf Road Prairie
The prairie looks very different in the fall with none of the vibrant color and lushness of the summer flowers.

Wolf Road Prairie

 

 

 

 

Even though it is surrounded by development I could barely hear the traffic. In these photos you can see the office buildings in the distance.

 

 

 

Wolf Road Prairie Oaks Savanah
The prairie has an interesting history. This land was originally planned as a housing development in the 1920s, but then the Great Depression came along and plans were halted.

 

 

Wolf Road Prairie Oak Savanah
Three cutouts were made for streets and sidewalks were poured, but that was all that was developed. The sidewalks are still there. An eerie grid of them leads you through an oak savanah to the open prairie.

 

Although this prairie is home to over 150 species of birds, very few were visible. I could hear them and see a few hopping in the dried grass, but they weren’t interested in letting me get too close. Perhaps the Red-tailed Hawk soaring above had something to do with it.

TreeSparrow-WolfPrairie_IMG_3494

A tree sparrow stopped just long enough for me to get off a shot and a tree full of starlings didn’t seem too worried.

Starlings-WolfPrairie_IMG_3427

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Immature Cedar Waxwing

Immature Cedar Waxwing

Taken with a hand-held camera using a zoom lens.

More Wordless Wednesday.

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Pink Dahlia

The dahlia is still blooming. We haven’t had a frost yet. I expect that to change this weekend.

Pink Dahlia

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Backyard Birds

I was having breakfast out on the deck Saturday when I noticed a lot more birds than usual. I grabbed the camera and took some pictures. Here’s who stopped to visit. There was also a blue jay and a pair of cardinals, but they didn’t stay long enough for a photo.

GoldFinch

GoldFinch

This is probably a Downy Woodpecker. The Downy and Hairy Woodpecker look a lot alike and it was difficult to tell the size way up in the tree. But I usually only see Downys in the backyard.

Female Hairy Woodpecker

Female Downy Woodpecker

Grackle checks out the birdbath

Grackle checks out the birdbath

Chipping Sparrow.

Sparrow

Sparrow

Pair of House Sparrows

Pair of House Sparrows

There were quite a few robins, many of them juveniles. They are the ones with the speckled breast that hasn’t turned orange yet. They are also friendlier than the adults and don’t fly off as quickly. This one walked towards me instead of fleeing.

Juvenile Robin

Juvenile Robin

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Flowers After the Rain

I like the way the flowers look after the rain stops and the sun returns. Here are a few photos I took last week.

Surprise Lilly

Surprise Lilly

Hosta Flowers

Hosta Flowers

Pink Spider Flower

Pink Spider Flower

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One of the fledglings may have made it out of the nest. I spotted what appeared to be a baby bird getting flying lessons this evening.

With the watchful parents in the tree and on the ground, he appeared for a moment on the shed roof, darted awkwardly toward a large tree trunk, then balanced on the fence and rested for a moment before flying away.

Update:
The adult robins have been hanging around the yard for the past few weeks. Today I noticed a smaller bird nearby. It was a juvenile robin. One did survive. I’m not sure if the little bird I saw a few weeks ago was a robin or not, but this one definitely is.

Juvenile Robin

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Baby Robins

Hungry Baby Robins - 3 days old

Hungry Baby Robins - 3 days old

The robins nesting in my yard are now parents. Three Four fuzzy little babies. The parents tolerate my curiosity and photography and so far have not tried to attack me.

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Robins Nest

I’ve had a cute bird house nailed to my garage for years waiting for birds to move in. No birds. I also have a bat house with no bats but that’s a topic for another day. Birds keep trying to build nests in my awnings and in the gutters…. usually unsuccessfully. Silly birds, those are no places to build a home!

A few weeks ago, to my surprise, a pair of robins decided to move into the bushes in front of the house. Soon they had built a nest and laid eggs. Wow, I finally have birds. Right outside the front window. Now I’ll never get the bushes trimmed!

Today I noticed the female out of the nest so I crept behind the bushes and snapped a few quick shots of the eggs and got a good look at the nest. Whoa, they did all that construction and it’s not visible from the front of the bushes. Sometimes I’m easily amused, but this is truely awesome. They took the twigs that dropped last fall from the walnut tree plus the remains of last year’s partially composted day lillies, added some mud, and made a home. Those birds are quite the engineers.

Robin's Nest

Robin's Nest

Mama robin was not impressed with me peeking in at her eggs. She few off into a nearby cedar tree and began scolding me. The male was across the driveway in the walnut tree watching me but not making any noise.

Female Robin

Female Robin

Not wanting to further upset her or risk being attacked, I moved away from the bushes. (more…)

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When the Daffodils finally open up and the Magnolia blooms, I know summer won’t be far behind. Of course the beautiful flowers are usually blown away by a typical Chicago spring storm, but at least I enjoyed them for a few days.

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I stopped by the Chicago Flower and Garden Show this week. There were lots of nice landscaping displays, how to setup a rainbarrel, bulbs and herbs for sale, assorted vendors and of course lots of flower beds and an abundance of tulips and daffodils.

My favoirte display was Del Agua Viene La Vida by the National Museum of Mexican Art. It had winding paths, trees, plants and several lovely little ponds, one that I almost stepped in.

I wanted to go home and start digging up the yard, but it’s still too cold and muddy to turn the dirt. I’ll have to wait a few more weeks.

A few of my photos are pictured below.

My pictures from the 2010 Garden Show

 

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