A beautiful male Eastern bluebird takes a moment on the branch of a small tree and scans its surroundings for insects.
April 8, 2023 – Early spring here in the Midwest sometimes seems like nature has problems making decisions. Warm days cool nights, and even snow and freezing temperatures keep eager gardeners on their toes as they prepare their plots and bestow excessive care on their new trays of spring plants while impatiently waiting for the frosty nights to go away so they can start a new season of splendor for the senses and nourishment for the pollinators. Emerging Insects, spring wildflowers, and migrating waterfowl are encouraging signs that the weather will comply sooner rather than later. Many feathered migrants have already arrived in the area for the nesting season others are staging here, building energy and fat reserves in the safe areas of refuge until the time is right to push further north toward their nesting range. The large flocks of noisy Greater white-fronted geese in the backwaters and flooded fields during the night began flying out in the early mornings to forage on spilled grain in the nearby ag fields. There are species of ducks, grebes, and swarms of coots in the flooded cover of the sloughs this time of year as the backwaters begin to ripple with life. Diving ducks, Buffleheads, Scaup, and Hooded mergansers are out in the open water bobbing on the waves, occasionally disappearing below the surface to search for food. Male Red-winged blackbirds have claimed their perch near some possible nesting sights; the males display their flash of color while continuously singing songs of love trying to attract a mate along the rural roads near ditches and around the wetlands. Tree swallows are long-distance migrants and are back in our area tired and hungry from their travels. The swallows arrive back in Northern Illinois in March when the weather can be more winter-like and pose a challenge for these migrants. Flocks of the graceful birds glide and circle just above the water in an attempt to catch small insects, often dipping down and skimming the surface for a quick drink. Another highly anticipated springtime migrant is the celebrated summer resident, the Eastern Bluebird. Bluebirds spend winter in the southern parts of Illinois to the southeastern coastal areas of the United States and begin arriving in Northern Illinois for the nesting season in February. Appearing as if dipped in lovely powdered pigments of eye-catching blue over pale orange-brown, one cannot deny the beauty of Eastern bluebirds in the spring perched on fence posts or the branches of a small tree at the edge of an open meadow. The bluebird brings joy and inspiration to poets, lyricists, and illustrators of nature and also for the cultivators and casual observer a reassurance that the warm days of springtime are near.
The colors are not as intense on the female Eastern bluebird as they are on the male but still she is a very attractive bird.