A two- mile walk around the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve on July 25 turned out to be a revelry in young birds.
First, my husband and I (and it was our wedding anniversary), watched a male and female Bobolink tending to their young. We didn’t actually see the young, but saw what confirmed their were newborn Bobolinks around. The male stayed close to the female as she flew in and out of the grasses and then landed on a perch, her mouth clutching a dangling chartreuse katydid. She didn’t eat the katydid. She flitted around, listened to her mate’s encouraging chips, then darted in the grasslands, emerging a few moments later sans the bug. That was a confirmation they had young about — either still in their nest or meandering around the grasslands still begging for food.
After enjoying that scene, we continued our hike and heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee singing — an adult male! Steve then got his binoculars on a pewee in an oak tree. This pewee had a shorter-than-normal tail with an indentation in the middle. The last feathers to grow in a young bird are its tail feathers — this was a young, still not fully grown. Soon, its parent, with a longer, squared-off tail flew to its side. Another confirmation of young.
We continued our walk and then heard the chip note of an Eastern Kingbird. I looked to a leafless tree with my binoculars and saw a kingbird, with a shaved tail and knew it was young. You’ll see a photo above of three young Eastern Kingbirds all with the white line at the end of their tail, which adults have, but with shorter tails. We eventually saw four kingbirds on the tree – two adults and two young — An adult would fly out into the air to catch an insect, and we assumed it was trying to teach its young how to catch flies! It’s time for the young to be on their own, and yet some birds are still on their nests — for example, the young American Robins in our front yard Norway spruce. This was the second nesting for this adult robin and she’s still feeding th em at the nest.
Enjoy this special time of year and look for the young with their funny tails and down stil atop their heads.