We had exhausted all the available Sunday morning tourist options in Marion, but still had an hour and a half to wait until we could tour Harding’s house. I pulled into the lot behind the house and parked in the shade with the windows open. I read for a while, as did my wife, but then my attention was drawn to the birds in the backyard of the house next door.
I was astounded to discover that one of them was a Kentucky Warbler. This beautiful bird is more common in the south — Chicagoland would be the extreme northern part of its range. It keeps to the brush and is very secretive. In fact, in 36 years of birding, I’d only seen one, in a park in Little Rock, Arkansas, and that only for about three seconds.
This one was behaving not at all secretively. For 10 minutes it worked its way along a thin line of trees and brush between the backyard and the parking lot, giving me a lot of very nice views. I never even had to get out of the car.
I also spotted a Gray-cheeked Thrush
And an Eastern Gray Squirrel that performed its morning ablutions in the fork of a tree not six feet away.