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Goldfinches, hummingbirds, kings, swimming, doves: WWW Chicago outdoors

Goldfinches working sunflowers and other flowers and avoiding a diving hummingbird.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

Hummingbirds are little pricks,

They are violently territorial, even toward their own kind. But they are willing to extend that violence to others, too. Think of hummingbirds as a sort of equal-opportunity evil-doer.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished up my Sunday column for the Sun-Times and was letting it rest for a few minutes before giving it a last read and sending it.

I stared out, nearly the length of our house, through the front window and watched American goldfinches flit around my wife’s sunflowers. Then I saw what I thought was a large bumblebee dive bomb a couple of the goldfinches.

That was odd enough that I got up to take some photos through the window. That’s when I saw it was a ruby-throated hummingbird, just being its own nasty self and diving at the goldfinches.

It made my day to have two of the more interesting birds we have around my feeders and my wife’s gardens interact with each other.

Otherwise for me, in this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors, I had planned to put in some of my usual Friday work on an edible trail, but the radar does not look promising and it was just cancelled.

But, I am mostly lined up with several days of staring at the computer screen and talking on the phone. I need to finish a couple magazines stories and get cracking on compiling dove hunting conditions.

I rather enjoy compiling the dove info and suspect that this year it will vary greatly because the summer rains have varied so extremely around the Chicago area.

I remembered to fill out my application for the free upland game permit this week. Now it is just waiting to see if I get lucky. I applied for some sites far enough away that it might be an overnighter if I get lucky and draw the permit.

Otherwise, I am tied up with family stuff: our daughter has a play and the youngest son is in the middle of a bunch of soccer games and practices.

As to more general WWW Chicago outdoors, Friends of the Chicago River hold a swimming PR event on Saturday. Yes, you read that right.

With that, to this Wild Weekend Wandering around Chicago outdoors. And this is a good weekend to take some time to watch pollinators, goldfinches and hummingbirds.

SWIMMING THE CHICAGO RIVER: Friends of the Chicago River hold a PR and fundraising event, “The Big Jump.” It is a fund-raising swim on the South Branch at Ping Tom Park. Click here for more info.

If you’re wondering, no I am not doing it. Not because I am afraid to jump in the South Branch, but because I will be driving the youngest around on the great Saturday soccer saga.

CHINOOK: I have not heard of any fresh kings on shore, but i hope along with Capt. Rich Sleziak at Slez’s Bait in Lake Station, Ind., who texted a few days ago:

With all the rain some coho and few kings will show up around pierhead

We can hope.

Dove on a wire.<br>Dale Bowman/Sun-Times
Dove on a wire.
Dale Bowman/Sun-Times

DOVES: OK, dove-hunting season doesn’t open for another eight days, but it is fun to consider and try and divine meaning from the number of doves on wires.

Well, at least to a guy like me, it is fun.

RIVER FISHING: Largely depends whether you are in area hammered by heavy rains or not. As of this morning, the Kankakee basin remains extremely low and very wadeable. It is in the most wadeable condition of local rivers. I would still put it near the top of weekend activities.

THE DRUM ALTERNATIVE: All I need to say is that when the wind is from the north and Lake Michigan at its dammest, fishing for freshwater drum is at its best. Keep that in mind as an option. It might be the most exciting thing going on the lakefront again this weekend.

FREE UPLAND GAME PERMITS: The coolest hunting program in Illinois is the free upland game permit program, where hunters can be king for a day. The application period runs through Aug. 31, that’s next Friday for the calendar challenged. Click here for information.

ILLINOIS DOVE PERMITS: Saturday is the deadline to apply for the remaining free dove hunting permits, first come, first served. Click here for information.

SQUIRREL HUNTING: Squirrel hunting in Illinois opened Aug. 1. The one nearby public spot open during early season is Iroquois County State Wild Area. Other sites open in September, usually after the first few days of dove hunting.

FROG SEASON: Still haven’t gotten out with our son and he is already back at school. Not sure how we are going to get it done.

Frog season, bullfrogs only, is open in Illinois. Daily bag is eight. A fishing license is required and legal means of taking them are “hook and line, gig, pitchfork, spear, bow and arrow, hand, or landing net.”

MIDEWIN: To give an idea of what you might experience at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, click here for my column about a visit earlier this summer.

The seasonal guided tours at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie run weekends through October. The Ranger Trailer is open weekends, weather permitting, at the Iron Bridge Trailhead. Trails are open daily 4 a.m.-10 p.m.

For a complete list of events and programming go to

JAZZIN’AT THE SHEDD: “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” runs Wednesday nights through Oct. 10. Click here for more info.

NOTEBAERT NOTE: Just a reminder, for those looking to save and still see a cool place, Thursday is suggested donation day at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.