Mayslake Birds Update

by Carl Strang

The birds have completed their nesting for the year, and some already have departed for the South.

It has been a while since Mayslake Forest Preserve’s eastern kingbirds have filled the air with their distinctive chattering.

Mayslake is not a migrant mecca, but we get a few. The mixed flocks usually build themselves around the local black-capped chickadees, whose frequent calling and local knowledge make flock cohesion possible and worth maintaining. One recent flock contained 2 chickadees, a redstart, 2 magnolia warblers, a black-and-white warbler, a black-throated green warbler, and a chestnut-sided warbler.

The black-and-white warbler crawled the tree bark, while the other species hunted insect prey in their various other specialized ways.

Another flock on the same day included a chickadee, a redstart, a house finch, a downy woodpecker, a white-breasted nuthatch, and a house wren. Resident birds like the woodpecker and nuthatch often join these flocks. A final grouping that day included 3 chickadees, a Nashville warbler, and a warbling vireo.

The Nashville warbler

September birders know to key on the chickadee calls. The migrants certainly do.

P.S., this is the 900th post of this blog.

Mayslake Migrants Late April

by Carl Strang

The migrant songbirds, and other birds that wintered in the tropics, really begin to flow into northeastern Illinois in the last week of April, and will peak in May. April 24 brought Mayslake’s first chimney swifts, brown thrasher, yellow warblers, and pine warblers including this one.


By the 27th the preserve was hosting newly arrived solitary and spotted sandpipers, green herons, northern waterthrushes, a black-throated green warbler, a blue-winged warbler, a rose-breasted grosbeak, and this Baltimore oriole,


as well as a northern parula.


The parula was singing its alternate song, for the most part, the rhythm of which reminds me of the William Tell overture and therefore, inevitably for a member of my generation, the Lone Ranger.

New arrivals on April 28 were warbling vireo, white-crowned and vesper sparrows. The 29th brought house wren, ovenbird, catbird, Tennessee warbler, common yellowthroat, and this red-headed woodpecker.


I am hoping that Mayslake’s savanna will be of interest to this relatively rare woodpecker as a nesting area. The last day of April brought a single new species but a good one, a golden-winged warbler.

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