In Search of Spring – Harbinger of Spring

Spring is at our doorstep, and with the nice weather comes a plethora of new birding opportunities. To make the most of the dawn of spring, Michael Ostrowski, a botanist and photographer, and I, the newest writer for the Birdfreak team, made our way to Will County in search of spring. While there, we saw various fungi, lichen, and insects, some squirrels and chipmunks, various plants that were not yet in flower as well as a flowering Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica), and several species of birds. The signs of spring were all around us, and we found it most evident in the bloom of Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa), one of the earliest flowering plants in Illinois.

Harbinger of Spring Photo by Michael Ostrowski
Spring Beauty in flower Photo by S. J. Callaway

As we finished taking photos of the beautiful spring flowers, we heard the distinct call of a Barred Owl, Who cooks for you, who cooks for yooou? A pair of hawks glided over the treetops, and I was able to capture a quick picture as one passed through a gap in the canopy.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) Photo by S. J. Callaway

There were many birds active in the woods, including Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Black-capped Chickadees. A beautiful Eastern Bluebird flitted among the smaller trees, giving me a great view of its vibrant colors.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) Photo by S. J. Callaway

Michael was very excited when we spotted a Tufted Titmouse and a Brown Creeper. Although these are fairly common birds, he is relatively new to birding and these were lifers for him.

Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) Photo by Michael Ostrowski
Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) Photo by Michael Ostrowski

Overall, it was a beautiful day and a wonderful outing. Let’s all enjoy the weather while it lasts. Happy spring birding!

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