What A Great Time For A Hike!

Eastern Kingbird

 I think the most abundant bird at the lake is the eastern kingbird. If you have never seen one, this is the place to visit. Look along the shore line for possible perch locations. They love the trees, sticks and stumps closest to the waters edge. It gives them a great vantage point to search for bugs both on land and over water. Another favorite place to search for food is in a prairie or meadow setting. They find a stick, branch or tall plant to perch and search. Lake Shabbona’s trails have an abundant supply of native prairie plants for them to collect bugs from.  Keep watch for this busy bird while hiking and fishing around the lake.  The eastern kingbird is about an inch and a half smaller than a robin. It has a beautiful jet black coat of feathers from head to tail. The feathers on it’s back are filtered with a shiny gray tint and the tail  looks frosted, with a white bar line that really shines in the sunlight. It’s belly is pure white all the way up to it’s chin and cheeks, with  a faint gray wash across the chest.  Striking bird.

Eastern Meadowlark

 You are very likely to hear this boisterous song bird while hiking past the fields and grassy trails at the park.  Donning tan and brown streaked feathers like a suit coat, a bold yellow breast for his dress shirt and an elegant black “v” shaped neck tie draping down his chest, this beautiful bird is all dressed and ready to perform.  His song does not disappoint … listen for flute like whistles that seem to repeat …  “See sees you, see ya”.  You may also hear a sweet “weeet” or short sharp buzzy one noted “dzert” mixed into their notes. They have a lot to say, especially if you see more than one in the area.
Look for the eastern meadowlark both high and low. When it is not stalking insects down in the grass, it is likely perched high. The higher the better as far as they are concerned. A great place to look is on snowmobile trail near the golf course.  Look on the tallest branches of trees and bushes along the trails. They love grassy areas and farm land, so look in the fields as you enter and exit the park as well. They even love power lines to perch and sing from.

Red-eyed Vireo

The unmistakable bright red eye of this vireo makes it an easy bird to identify.  Like other vireos this bird spends much of it’s time in the canopy consuming bugs from branches and under leaves. During breeding season you may see them on lower branches. The red eye is sure to grab your attention. This vireo was preening on a low branch in the campground area. His partner was waiting and chattering from a branch nearby. This shot made me think of a scene where he was holding his wing out to ask his partner for a dance.
Vireos are very vocal song birds. The song appears to resemble a series of robin like notes with many short pauses in-between. If you think you are hearing a robin with a lot to say,  look around.  It just might be a chatty red-eyed vireo. There is a rise and fall in the pitch of their ever changing notes as if they are talking to themselves and really enjoying the conversation. They are very chatty birds.  Listen for the nmenonic “Look up, here I am, over here , vireo!” 

Indigo Bunting

By far my favorite bird to come across in Shabbona park is the indigo bunting. Blue from head to toe, vibrant, bold and beautiful. The first time I came across them at the park was a few years ago. They were eating the seed from dandelion weed. They think it is absolutely delicious, which is great for weed control. The indigo bunting enjoys a variety of seed, like thistle and goldenrod too. This little creepy crawly in it’s beak may be a inch worm, which indigo’s also love to consume.  Look for this blue…tiful bird in weedy areas, especially near the edge of a wooded area or grassy fields. I always see them in the campground area.

photo note cards available in camp store

Look for Shabbona Lake photo note cards in the camp store during your visit to the park. Each card shares an image displaying just one little piece of this big beautiful park, found while hiking around the trails there. Many of the images used have been shared right here on the park’s nature blog, others part of my personal collection from my walks around the lake. I really enjoy my hikes here and am proud to offer this line of cards at the park.

Ah summer time, what a great time to go for a hike!
Come for a visit, pick a trail, go for a walk and enjoy the beauty around you.

A great opportunity to enjoy a hike is during the Pokanoka’s Trail Run/Walk on July 4th. The money raised from this fundraiser benefits Safe Passage, DeKalb Counties Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Agency. Good hike, good cause. Win, win.