Friday, July 29, 2016


The brief, sporadic sightings of blinking lights on a warm summer night is something I absolutely love about Chicago. They are my favorite insect by far. I've learned there are over 2000 species of fireflies (who knew?) and they are also called "lightening bugs". Bioluminescence is so cool!

Simply magical! Thanks Google Images.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Black-capped Chickadee

This is a CUTE bird. It's size, shape, color, tweets. I first saw one about a month ago around South Pond. Just a few days ago I saw another 3 around North Pond. I love their song, very recognizable and how I first came across the bird. According to, one of their calls is a three syllable, "hey, sweetie". The other typical call you can hear is their warning call, "chickadee-dee-dee", The more "dee's" in the call, the more urgent the warning!  I love everything about the black-capped chickadee!

Adorable!!! Courtesy of Flickr

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My Garden: Sunny Knock Out Roses

This year I decided to plant a rose bush, mostly for the sweet fragrance. After a big storm this weekend I was watering and to my surprise my rose bush had blossomed! 2 beautiful white roses! Beautiful smelling. With over a dozen yellow buds to boot! After planting the rose bush over a month ago, my hopes for buds this year were low, so this was an awesome surprise!

My petite rose bush! Look at those 2 roses!

Sooo fragrant!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Daily Bird Count: 21 Species!

1. Rock dove
2. American robin
3. Mallard
4. Wood duck
5. Chickadee
6. Domestic goose
7.  Canadian goose
8. Great blue heron
9. Ring-billed gull
10. Green heron
11. Black-crowned night heron
12. Redwing blackbird
13. American goldfinch
14. Northern cardinal
15. Cedar waxwing
16. Barn swallow
17. European starling
19. House sparrow
20. Crow
21. Greylag domestic goose

Thursday, July 21, 2016

City Living: Front Porch

One of my favorite things about where we live is our front porch. We're on a tree-lined street that is nice and shady, and we have four large planters that I take care of. This summer I was so happy because several of the flowers planted last year returned. I  added petunias this year-as annuals they won't return next year, but they are so colorful and pretty I couldn't resist! Even though it's hitting 90+ degrees this week with absurd amounts of humidity, the flowers are thriving with daily watering. Although our front porch is compact, I like working on the front porch, while I'm watering/sweeping/weed pulling/checking the mail, I meet and chat with neighbors, local business owners, the mail woman, fed ex man (who calls Jon "Mr. Pederson" because I order all our packages!), construction workers, dog walkers, maintenance men. Taking care of my front porch is one easy way to make my neighborhood more beautiful, friendly and loved!

Our front porch

A close up of one of the planters

Quincy hanging out


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Semipalmated Plover

My first plover in Chicago! This little fellow was feeding along the shore of the small island in the middle of South Pond.  A plover is a tiny shorebird, this particular type has yellow legs and white underbelly. In my identification attempt, of course I jumped to the conclusion that I saw a piping plover, but given its endangered and rare bird status in Chicago I continued to search and was able to correctly ID it as a juvenile Semipalmated Plover. Common things are common...

Identifying specific bird species is tricky. For the most part, knowing heron vs. duck vs. goose vs. swallow vs. plover vs. wren isn't very difficult. I imagine it's like a regular person knowing colors compared to an artist knowing colors. Different shades, tints and hues. Sure we know blue, but do we know azure, periwinkle, indigo, cobalt, cyan?

For this particular bird I was happy that I could immediately identify it as a plover, but then when you have to identify what type of plover it is, the specific markings, colors, and habitats become very important. Without binoculars it's almost impossible. I saw another new species today but it was too high up in the trees with the sun behind it and it was very difficult for me to clearly distinguish it's markings so I couldn't properly identify it once I got back home.

I was too far away to get a photo. Up close courtesy of

Monday, July 18, 2016

18+ Species Today!

Mostly spotted around North Pond. To put this in perspective, on ebird, the single day high for North Pond this year is 77 species. To give myself some credit that was in early May during peak migration season.  I'm pretty happy with the 18+ I saw today. I really wish I could have successfully identified the last bird!
  1. American Robin
  2. Northern Cardinal (by call)
  3. Red-winged Blackbird
  4. Cliff Swallow
  5. Common Sparrow
  6. Downy Woodpecker
  7. Green Heron
  8. Black-crowned Night Heron
  9. Great Blue Heron
  10. Mallard
  11. Wood Duck
  12. Canadian Goose
  13. American Crow
  14. Common Grackle
  15. Ring-billed Gull
  16. American Goldfinch
  17. Mourning Dove
  18. Domestic Goose
  19. I think it was a Brandt but I can't positively say, will scope out again tomorrow hopefully. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Eastern Kingbird Sighting!

A perfect Saturday morning here in Chi-town. Sunny with a breeze and no humidity. We earned it after last week! We were walking along the dirt walking path in Lincoln Park that circles the baseball fields -so many people out playing ball, very picturesque. Then I saw it - a robin-sized bird with a dark black cap and black beak, sleek and looking like he was wearing a tux (black backed and white chested), and when he flew away I noticed his white-tipped tail. Now back at home, using my Sibley Field Guide I can properly give this tuxedo-wearing bird a name: the Eastern Kingbird! My first flycatcher sighting!

Silhouette of the Eastern Kingbird in Lincoln Park

These birds fly all the way to South America on the hunt for berries in the winter, but like a true Chicagoan, love to summer around here.

Up close thanks to the Audubon Society -what a beauty!

When this eastern kingbird flew away, he made a spectacular aerial acrobatic display of what I assume was catching a flying insect in midair! I wish I had caught it on video tape!

I'm all smiles now, great way to start the day! Hope you have a pleasant weekend full of birding!

Wood Ducks and Ducklings

I've been following the wood ducks that live in North Pond for two years now. I still find the male wood duck spectacular with his vibrant and modern color blocking.

Bold lines, vivid coloring, the Matisse of ducks. Thanks Wikipedia.

I also recently saw two juvenile male wood ducks. Being a budding birder, I of course got very excited that this was a different species and possibly a rare bird sighting, but common things being common, eventually identified it as the juvenile male wood duck that it was. Seeing the two side by side you can see the outline of the adult male coloring that will come over the next few years. Amazing!

Juvenile male wood duck. Thanks Audubon Society.

But, this year, the mama wood duck took over the show. She gave birth to NINE ducklings this spring! They are so cute and adorable. I make sure Quincy the husky stays far away so we never scare them. I know urban ducks need to learn to be alert and toughen up quickly, but I'd rather not rush these cutie pies.
Mama and her 9 ducklings. Time for a better camera I think!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Herons, Herons, Everywhere!

Quite a morning for herons around North Pond. Within 20 meters there were three different species of herons: black crowned night heron, green heron and great blue heron! I was able to capture some photos to share.

A small green heron hunting off the tree limb.

One of the two beautiful great blue herons fishing.

A juvenile black crowned night heron learning to hunt.

What a morning for herons! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cedar Waxwing

I am thrilled! I spied a species of bird this evening that I've never seen before. Apparently cedar waxwings are common around Chicago, but it was my first sighting! I saw three in the bushes around North Pond in Lincoln Park. Really striking birds with a silky brown color and crest, a bright yellow tipped tail and a black mask. This is one of my favorite birds yet! Plus, as a budding birder, I'm proud that I was able to see it in nature and come back home and identify it. Slowly but surely I'm building my birding muscle. I wish I had heard the waxwing's song!

Copyright Pinterest as usual, my photos are all blurry!

Green Heron

A little green heron has made South Pond it's home this summer. I've had several sightings. Today it was flying all around! Last summer I don't think I saw any in Lincoln Park, so this is a treat!