Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Spring in Northern Illinois

  Downy Woodpeckers looking for grub in Lincoln Marsh in Wheaton, Illinois.


Calling northern Illinois a travel destination is kind of like making the statement, “I went on an expedition to the wilds of my front yard…”  I lived in Chicagoland for many years and have been traveling back and forth to Chicago from the west coast for my entire life.  I thought I had seen just about all there was in the area.  That was until the spring of 2007.  We took another extended spring break trip to visit mom and dad in Wheaton.  While there we spent much of our days exploring the extensive forest preserve system in DuPage County.  While none of these represent complete or wild ecosystems in any sense, they are small patches of forest that provide homes to many species of flora and fauna.

Sadly, when I was living in Chicago, the only reason I went to forest preserves was to party or to have romantic interludes with my girlfriend.  So I never really noticed their value as repositories of nature.  That all changed during this early spring trip. 


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Take a look at the images below to see the sorts of critters we spotted during our treks to the forest preserves of DuPage County!





Chicago's John Hancock Building.  Some of my earliest childhood memories are of going up to the top of this once tallest building.  Now Chicago has traditionally been our main destination when visiting the fam in Illinois.  Now our main focus are the forest preserves!



Eastern Fox Squirrel photographed in the Morton Aboretum located in Chicago's western suburbs.  These rodents are common!



Woodchucks, basically a lowland marmot (Marmota monax), are also common in the woods and wetlands of the region.



Chicagoland's forest preserves protect the remaining stands of native trees such as oaks, elm, black locust and many other species.



A cute little Downy Woodpecker photographed in Wheaton's Lincoln Marsh.




The spectacular Red-bellied Woodpecker photographed McDowell Grove Reserve in West Chicago.  The early spring is an excellent time to see this and many other birds in the region.




This Great Horned Owl was photographed near its nest in the forest near the Geneva courthouse. 




A male Red-winged Blackbird singing his heart out trying to find a mate!



It's nice to see so many Red-tailed Hawks in such a developed part of the country. 




The effort to bring back the Eastern Blue Birds appears to be showing success.  During our walk in the Lincoln Marsh, we saw many of these lovely critters!




Ring-tailed Gulls are one of the more common birds along Chicago's lake shores.




Leopard Frogs seen near a wetland in West Chicago.  Although the temperature was still a bit chilled, these little guys were still very active.



The Sear's Tower as seen from the Hancock Building.



Chicago's Lake Shore Drive.





Eastern White-tailed Deer are still common in many of the forest preserves around town.



The ubiquitous Northern Cardinal seen along the Prairie Path.

Please take a look at our North America Image Galleries!