When the migrants started returning this spring, Illinois birders Jackie and Chris Bowman knew right where to go: Chicago’s Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary (Hotspot Near You No. 74). On the first Sunday in May, they saw warblers and thrushes, a Least Bittern in a flowering crabapple, a Le Conte’s Sparrow in a meadow, and thanks to a tip from a friend, the Eastern Whip-poor-will pictured above.
The often-heard but rarely seen bird was resting on a log less than 12 inches off the ground in the Magic Hedge, the stretch of trees and shrubs that is the sanctuary’s centerpiece. Jackie snapped photos of the bird four times. On her last observation, as she lifted her camera, a squirrel crawled just behind her subject. Startled, the whip-poor-will momentarily stretched its wings and buffy-tipped tail feathers, giving Jackie the amazing shot above. She shared it in our Flickr group.