Flockes of American robins are passing through several locations.
Waterfowl continue to lead the way of spring migration. At Fullersburg Woods, a naturalist recently spotted common mergansers, common goldeneyes, ring-necked ducks, wood ducks and blue-winged teals. An ecologist also spotted some wood ducks at some of the kettle ponds undergoing restoration at Waterfall Glen. Willowbrook Wildlife Center staff even released some rehabilitated waterfowl, including a couple of mergansers and a scoter, along the Des Plaines River.
Other birding activity includes kingfishers active at Willowbrook and along the Des Plaines River near Waterfall Glen. Great blue herons have been seen returning to their rookeries at Danada and Churchill Woods. At Fullersburg Woods, sightings include killdeer, sandhill cranes, song sparrows singing and a pileated woodpecker popping in and out. A northern cardinal was seen at Harrier Lake near Pratt’s Wayne Woods, and an eastern bluebird was spotted along the main road at Blackwell.
A great horned owl was also heard hooting near the ranger shop at Blackwell. Many great horned owl chicks have already hatched. Great horned owls often use stick nests originally built by red-tailed hawks or crows, and may build their own nests in evergreen trees that provide protection from the weather. These nests are rather rickety constructions, and owlets have been known to tumble out of the nests. District staff members from Willowbrook Wildlife Center and the forestry team often work together to reinforce nests with platforms and reunite young owls with parents.
If you’re watching for mammal activity, head to Blackwell where a beaver was seen plodding along near Mount Hoy and looks for muskrats becoming active again in bank dens.
Due to ice cover and concerns for visitor safety, the “Trout Fishing for Kids” program on Saturday, March 29 at Wood Dale Grove has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled. However, we look forward to the spring rainbow trout season carrying on as scheduled on April 5 at 6 a.m. at Grove Lake at Wood Dale Grove, Pickerel Lake at Pratt’s Wayne Woods and Silver Lake at Blackwell forest preserves.
This week’s snapshot is of a Morrison’s sallow moth, Eupsilia morrisoni, seen by a District ecologist in recent weeks. This insect spends winters in the moth stage, and may be active on warmer days from September through May. It may be tough to see, as its wingspan reaches only about 1.5 inches and its coloration certainly blends in well to the bark on trees in its habitat of deciduous forests. Watch around exterior lighting on warm days this time of year, though, because like most moths species it could be drawn to the light.
Image © Scott KobalThe Morrison's sallow moth may be active throughout winter and into spring.