Birds in Summer

Summer is breeding season for the birds of Douglas Park. Males sing, females lay eggs, eggs hatch, often both parents feed and watch over the young. Then, within a couple of months, the young birds are on their own.

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Gray Catbird singing in a sanctuary honey locust tree. (June, 2016)

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Indigo Bunting singing at the edge of the sanctuary meadow. (June, 2016)

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This Cedar Waxwing parent tried to pull loose a piece of ribbon for its nest. (June, 2016)

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Barn Swallow on its nest. (June, 2016)

Baby ducks, geese, and grebes leave the nest soon after they hatch.

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Mallard duckings stick close to their mothers. (June, 2016)

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Both parents watch over Canada Goose goslings and help them find food. (June, 2016)

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Mother Pied-billed Grebe caught baby catfish for her young on the sanctuary lagoon. (June, 2016)

I don’t look for nests in Douglas Park, so I rarely see nestlings being fed. But I do see parent birds with beaks full of bugs they will take back to their babies.

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Father Common Yellowthroat with a beak full of bugs for his nestlings. (July, 2016)

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Eastern Phoebe with a butterfly or moth for its nestlings.

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American Goldfinches feed mostly seeds to their young.

Once young birds leave the nest, the parents still watch them, except when they search for more food for the fast growing fledglings.

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This Eastern Kingbird just fed its hungry fledglings. Now the parent is looking for more flying insects to catch. (July, 2016)

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This fledgling Barn Swallow is waiting for its parents to bring some more tasty bugs. (August, 2016)

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This fledgling Red-winged Blackbird looks alone and helpless, but if you get too close its father will swoop down and chase you off. (June, 2016)

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Fledgling Gray Catbirds hide in sanctuary bushes while their parents hunt for food. (August, 2016)

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These young Green Herons are not quite ready to catch their own food, so they wait for their parents to bring them freshly caught catfish. (July, 2014)

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This young American Crow is still learned how to find its own food, so it still begs constantly for its parents to feed it. (June, 2016)

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Although this American Robin still has its baby spots, it already can find its own food and water. (August, 2016)

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These young Brown-headed Cowbirds were raised by a different species — perhaps cardinal, sparrow, or warbler. Now they are on their own and behaving just like cowbirds, searching for their own food.

Some birds, like larger herons and Caspian Terns, don’t nest in Douglas Park, but come here to find food for their nestlings. Later their young fly to the park on their own to find food.

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This young Black-crowned Night-Heron was raised in the large night-heron rookery at Lincoln Park Zoo. Now it’s catching its own fish at the edge of the Douglas Park lagoon. (August, 2016)

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This young Great Blue Heron was hatched and raised along a river or swamp elsewhere in the Chicago area. Now it’s catching fish in Douglas Park.

By August, bird breeding season is almost over, and fall migration is already underway for some kinds of birds.

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This Tennessee Warbler spent the summer up north, in Wisconsin or Canada. It stopped in Douglas Park to fuel up before flying farther south for winter. (August, 2016)

Many more birds visit Douglas Park during fall migration. To see photos of some of them, go to

BIRDS IN FALL