I took a 2 hour hike at Country Lane Woods on Thanksgiving morning and was very thankful I did (get it, get it), because the wildlife was out in droves! I’m not sure why. Was it because the woods were empty of humans? Did the wildlife feel secure to venture out? Maybe.
Here is part of the trail. It was cloudy and windy. The strong wind made it feel colder than the actual temperature of 41°F. I had to bundle up. When I arrived I immediately heard sandhill cranes flying above. Not only one wave of cranes but wave after wave of sandhill cranes! They were so loud! Some flew in a V formation and some were moving about in their group repositioning themselves.
Next, I found a flock of cedar wax wings eating berries. Tons of wax wings all around flew from branch to branch, even hanging upside down to get at the hard to reach berries. With this group I also saw several blue jays and chickadees.
Further down the road I spotted two red-bellied woodpeckers. My photo isn’t the greatest, but he has a zebra-pattern black and white back. Why is this woodpecker names red-bellied? Well, on his belly there is a light patch of red. We cannot see it. I’m guessing this is a male because the female has a much smaller patch of red on her head.
Just a few feet away I caught a glimpse of the red-headed woodpecker. I know this picture is bad, but you can see his black body, the large white section of featherson his wing, and just barely a whole red head. In fact, my “Birds of Illinois” book by Stan Tekiela states that this is the only woodpecker in Illinois that has an entirely red head. It also states that this is a summer bird in my area, but clearly it is not summer.
Birds were not the only stars of the show at Country Lane Woods, I came across two white tail deer as well. They didn’t let me get too close however, true to their name, those white tails shot up and they quickly darted away.
I also found the most interesting piece of lichen on a small branch. I think I will save that prize for next time when we can learn more about it and make a little sketch.
I was very thankful to see so many different kinds of wildlife, I almost felt like Snow White!