Southside Egrets

Once again south suburban Chicago lakes, ponds and sloughs are the home to migrating Great Egrets. In the springtime they pass through the area and some even stay all summer long to nest and raise young ones. During springtime, their breeding season, the great egret changes into its gorgeous nuptial plumage. A patch of skin around its eye turns neon green and long flowing plumes grow from its back. The egret fans its plumes during a courtship dance in hopes to attract a partner.

These beautiful plumes, called aigrettes, nearly brought the egret to its extinction in the late 19th century. During this era, it was fashionable to use the egret’s long plume as an ornamental headdress. The plume hunting nearly wiped out the species before preservationists demanded regulations to protect the great egret’s colonies. Since then, the great egret has successfully rebounded. As a result of the success of these early conservationists, the bird became the symbol of the National Audubon Society. Please feel free to enjoy these and many other of my photographs at Mike Truchon Photography.

A great egret balances itself on top of a barren tree during an approaching storm. Its neon green skin and long flowing back plumes are a telltale sight that it is breeding season.

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White Trout Lily, a Magical Wildflower for Spring

A wonderful surprise to wake up to this morning. One of my photographs of white trout lily flowers is in the recent issue of Horticulture Magazine.The growth of this colony of trout lily flowers, taken near Tomahawk Slough in Cook County, Illinois, had been aided by recent forest preserve clearing and maintenance.

Donkeys, Guardians of the Farm

The donkey, often misunderstood and underappreciated, is instead an intelligent and independent thinking animal. Their stubborn behavior only arises when they perceive a threat to their own safety and self-preservation. A donkey will never do anything that it considers unsafe, rather it will dig its hooves into ground to make itself immovable.

On a farm, near the edge of the woods, two donkeys graze on the remains of the plowed field.

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It Was Raining Sandhill Cranes

It was raining sandhill cranes. For a short time in mid-November, flocks and flocks of these magnificent birds flew into and out of the cornfields and marshes of northern Indiana. They gathered, gabbed, danced, ate and rested before flying away like kites in the sky to continue their southerly winter migration. Consolidating into V-shaped flying formations these awe inspiring fliers reached thousands of feet into the sky.

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A Prospering Colony

John Muir once said “Most people are on the world, not in it”, on a peaceful May afternoon I was truly in the world. At the edge of Tomahawk Slough there is an oak savanna. Within this oak savanna lay a colony of white trout lily. These lovely spring ephemerals spread across the burnt logs and rising oaks to carpet the woodland floor in green and white.

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Hidden Gold Mine

Like a typical gold mine, this one is brimming with the brilliant, shiny golden objects. Though these gems are not nuggets but instead the yellow flowers of the marsh marigold. A delightful harbinger to spring, the marsh marigold makes a brief, spectacular appearance in late April through early May, then it disappears as fast as it arrived. The golden flowers and emerald green leaves of the marsh marigold make a stunning forest floor carpet.

In between the swampy overflow of a creek and the rise of woodland foot hills, a patch of marsh marigolds blooms in the formation of a lollipop.

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Pelican Pond

For approximately one week in early April, Maple Lake in the Cook County Forest Preserve turned into Pelican Pond. Each day there were well over seventy American White Pelicans swimming, flying and foraging at the lake. For this brief week in April these white feathered birds were like angels floating on a small blue heaven in southern Cook County.

Like a knight to its king, an American white pelican spreads its wings outward and curtsies to another unimpressed pelican. The water bird rises out of the lake in an effort to gain the attention of its aloof companion.

People often think of the pelicans only as seacoast birds but they are typically only thinking about Brown Pelicans. American White Pelicans differ from their coastal cousins in several ways; Read more ›

Bergman Slough Super Moon

Coyotoes howl in the distance as the frost super moon rises over Bergman Slough. Smoke from a prairie fire lingers in the air to enhance the mysterious aura of the night.

Starved Rock Canyon Walls

Deep inside Illinois Canyon, the glowing St. Peter Sandstone cracked walls surround a burnt-out tree. Once a home to birds, insects and small animals, the charred tree truck now precariously rises above fallen autumn leaves in an attempt to make its last stand.

Inside Ottawa Canyon, green tarnished boulders fall like teardrops from the the glowing St. Peter Sandstone canyon walls. Autumn leaves and a surviving fern surround the sandstone rubble.

American Bird Conservancy Report

I am especially thankful when I see one of my photographs on a magazine cover. This photograph of a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was on American Bird Conservancy’s 2016 Annual Report. The photographed was taken at Sagawau Environmental Learning Center in Cook County on a springtime rosebud tree.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a relative of the American Robin. The obvious difference is their unmistakable colors; a crimson breast on a white chest framed by its black head and wings. Along with its colors the other way to identify a Rose-breasted Grosbeak is through its song. When you think you hear a robin listen a little closer, if you hear “an extra sweetness to their song as if the bird had operatic training” it’s the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Click on the link to see the American Bird Conservancy 2016 Annual Report.