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A Birdwatcher’s Paradise

Highland Park/Lake Forest —More than 140 species of migratory birds flock to Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve and neighboring Openlands Lakeshore Preserve each spring. Birder and writer Sheryl DeVore explains how to spot six key types.

Illustration by Jens Magnusson

Baltimore Oriole

Illustrations: Jens Magnusson

Eponymous feature:Orange-and-black coloring that resembles Lord Baltimore’s coat of arms (so only intuitive if you’re up on your 17th-century history)

Where to look:High in the trees when you hear a clear whistle

Party trivia:Females weave a pendulum nest out of grapevine, bark strips, wool, and even yarn.

 

Illustration by Jens Magnusson

Caspian Tern

Eponymous feature:No descriptive name here: Look for a white body, black cap, large orange bill, and pointed wings.

Where to look:At the lake, where they dive-bomb for fish

Party trivia:The males go fishing and offer the catch to their mates.

 

Illustration by Jens Magnusson

Red-Breasted Merganser

Eponymous feature:Rust-brown chest on males

Where to look:Close to shore, where they congregate in large numbers

Party trivia:To attract the ladies, dude mergansers thrust their Mohawk-topped heads backward into the water and raise their bills to the sky.

 

Illustration by Jens Magnusson

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Eponymous feature:Crimson head, neck, and throat

Where to look:In open woodlands, where you’ll see a flash of white and black as the bird sallies out to catch an insect

Party trivia:Potential mates and rivals chase each other around trees, Fast & Furious-style.

 

Illustration by Jens Magnusson

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Eponymous feature:Spindly legs

Where to look:Skyward as it zooms through the woods and over the shore

Party trivia:It’s one of a dozen species that naturalists count during the fall hawk watch at Fort Sheridan.

 

Illustration by Jens Magnusson

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Eponymous feature:Acid-yellow patch on the male’s butt

Where to look:In vegetation, where you’ll see groups of a dozen or more feeding on insects and caterpillars

Party trivia:They’re the most abundant of about 30 colorful species of warblers that pass through Illinois.

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