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.

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


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 or contact me on Facebook (Dale Bowman), Twitter (@BowmanOutside) or Instagram (@BowmanOutside).


“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.


“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



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.,


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


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


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


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

The Latest
The inspector general’s office urged Johnson to create a task force aimed at “preventing, identifying, and eliminating extremist and anti-government activities and associations within CPD.”
Cordale Nichols, 37, was arrested shortly after he allegedly threw an incendiary device through the window of an apartment early Saturday in the 3100 block of South Green Street, Chicago police said.
Sometimes people don’t bother to call 911 after hearing shots. ShotSpotter can lead cops and paramedics directly to victims.
Chicago hasn’t had a chief equity officer since Candace Moore left in December. Her successor, Carla Kupe, could play a fundamental role in determining what reparations look like in Chicago. The mayor had set aside money for a reparations task force in his 2024 budget, approved last year.
No word yet on who will host or where the Aug. 19-22 episodes will be taped.