Chicago outdoors: “Butcher bird,” Illinois’ spring trout, huge largemouth bass frenzy and potato launchers

A northern shrike (“butcher bird”) in Orland Park, an answered question on Illinois’ spring trout season, a huge largemouth bass frenzy in Texas, and potato launchers on the lakefront are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors.

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 Annabelle Hladik photographed this northern shrike in Orland Park. Provided by Annabelle Hladik

Annabelle Hladik photographed this northern shrike in Orland Park.

Provided by Annabelle Hladik

Notes come from all around Chicago outdoors.

FIELD NOTES

WILD OF THE WEEK

Annabelle Hladik spotted this northern shrike Sunday evening in Orland Park. “I found the lone bird singing shrilly atop a barren tree and watched it flutter around to other trees nearby, where I saw rodents (presumably meadow or prairie voles) strewn about the branches,” she emailed. “My dad, also a birder, says the northern shrike should have been called a `Kebab-olink.’ “ Shrikes are known informally as “butcher birds” for impaling their prey on thorns or barbed wire.

Our area sees both northern and loggerhead shrikes, so I doublechecked with Doug Stotz, senior conservation ecologist at the Field Museum. who confirmed it was a northern shrike and explained on Twitter, “The black face mask is narrow and doesn’t join above the bill. March is a tough month because wintering northern shrikes are still around, but loggerheads arrive in March, and that is when they are most likely to show up at non-breeding sites.”

WOTW, the celebration of wild stories and photos around Chicago outdoors, runs most weeks in the special two-page outdoors section in the Sun-Times Sports Saturday. To make submissions, email (BowmanOutside@gmail.com) or contact me on Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or Instagram (@BowmanOutside).

WILD TIMES

U.S. COAST GUARD AUXILIARY

Next Saturday, March 20: Boat America classes: Homewood, Gary Miller, garymiller223@gmail.com .. . Fox Lake, Winston Tumaneng, jugodan52@aol.com

ILLINOIS SEASON

Monday, March 15: LaSalle Lake reopens to fishing.

DALE’S MAILBAG

“Hoping you’ll write something about spring trout stocking. There’s been no announcement that I’ve seen, as of yet. Please let us know if you hear something.” Tammy

A: Ask and you will receive. When I asked fisheries chief Mike McClelland, he emailed, “Trout season is on as usual (barring any unseen catastrophe)! First Saturday in April (4/3). I believe we will only have one location edit, but that is not at an IDNR site. We hope to have the press release out soon.” It came Wednesday, click here for details on the spring trout season.

BIG NUMBER

5: Largemouth bass heavier than 13 pounds, caught between Feb. 19 and 25 on Lake O.H. Ivie Lake in Texas. Iowan Joe McKay caught the biggest (16.4 pounds) to start the frenzy, according to the Runnels County Register.

LAST WORD

“Is it possible to use a potato cannon in substitute of CO2? I’m thinking one with a small enough barrel to fit the weight.”

My favorite question of the spring on powerlining in Facebook’s group, “Chicago powerline and lakefront fishing (powerlining).”

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