Chicago outdoors: Chicago wood duck taking flight, boat-tailed grackle, morel season recap

A photo of a wood duck drake taking flight in Chicago, fun facts while going down a rabbit hole on boat-tailed grackles and an overview of the season for morel mushrooms this spring around Chicago are among the notes from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.

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A wood duck drake taking flight in Chicago.

A wood duck drake taking flight in Chicago.

Paul Vriend

Notes come from around Chicago outdoors and beyond.

WILD OF THE WEEK

Paul Vriend used the cover of a shoreline shrub to photograph this drake wood duck taking flight. “Most folks in Chicago haven’t seen one up close, because these birds are very wary,” he emailed.

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).

DALE’S MAILBAG

“That’s a wrap, another season in the crapper (for me, anyways.) The pictures just reinforced what I mentioned this morning, some fresh, some not so fresh. Those two were both found under the same, large tree. The only two. Overall it was a onesie-twosie year. That’s what happens when you get inadequate rains in your area the second and third weeks of April. Large, freshly-dead elms I would have expected to give up many more morels squeezed (squoze?) out 1 or two. I was lucky to find the two small jackpots I did this year.” Jay Damm

A: One of the best morel hunters explains the season.

LAST WORD

“But it’s not as simple as it may seem: though a colony’s dominant male mates far more often with the females, DNA fingerprinting shows that only about a quarter of the young are actually his. The remainder are fathered by males who the females mate with while away from the colony.”

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, description of a trait of boat-tailed grackles, which I saw (and heard) all over the Florida coast this week

A boat-tailed grackle in St. Augustine, Fla. Credit: Dale Bowman

A boat-tailed grackle in St. Augustine, Fla.

Dale Bowman

WILD TIMES

BOAT SAFETY

Today, May 20: National Safe Boating Week Kickoff Event—safety classes, vessel safety checks, family activities, demonstrations—by U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Six Chicago Flotilla, DuSable Harbor and Columbia Yacht Club, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., facebook.com/coastguardauxchicago

DUCKS UNLIMITED

Wednesday, May 24: Palos Park banquet, Orland Chateau, Orland Park

U.S. COAST GUARD AUXILIARY

Next Saturday, May 27: Paddlers Guide to Safety, Geneva Township, Don Goff, dgoff6547@gmail.com . . . Boat America, Hammond, Ind., Joshua Zajac, uscgaux3511@gmail.com

WINGSHOOTING CLINICS

June 3-4: Des Plaines SFWA, Wilmington, (815) 423-5326, click here for details

ILLINOIS PERMITS

Through June 30: Second lottery, firearm or muzzleloader deer permits

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