great barred owl

Midwest Wildlife

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Midwest Wildlife

Being out in nature is one of my greatest joys, and being blessed with sightings of some Midwest wildlife while enjoying it is a true reward.

The Midwest, depending on your location, has the potential to produce some awe-inspiring encounters with beautiful, and sometimes difficult to spot wildlife.

You won’t see any big cats, elk, or bear unless you see them at the local zoo. However, you might see some larger, rarer wildlife in preserves that once called the area home, until loss of habitat or hunting forced them out.

Since I am not a hunter, even though I do enjoy some wild game when taken legally and responsiby, I enjoy capturing Midwest wildlife in photographs.

Below are some of my favorite Midwest Wildlife photos to date. As my collection grows, I plan to update this post so we can all enjoy wildlife as it was meant to be witnessed – in nature. Enjoy!

Barred Owl

This little guy I photographed while on a camping trip in early spring, 2018. Read that post HERE. I happened to be driving along a remote road while exploring and I saw him out of the corner of my eye just sitting in a nearby tree. He was frequently looking down, obviously watching a food source. I started making some noises and was lucky enough to get him to look right at me for a few minutes to capture some really great photos.

barred owl

This Barred Owl above I photographed while at a wedding held at Wildlife Prairie Park, near Peoria, Illinois. This bird is a female and was noticeably smaller than the bird I photographed above. Sources indicate that the female is larger than the male so the size difference may be age or because this particular bird is in captivity.


This Oriole was photographed along the Illinois River in the spring of 2018. My wife actually took these photographs, and I cropped and edited.

We spotted the bird flying back and forth from this tree to near the water and then back. Obviously, he was searching for food. We could see the nest, which was an elaborate weave of grass and sticks hanging precariously from a small twig. We managed a couple of great shots of this Oriole bringing home a meal for the family.

The nest was only slightly visible and well camouflaged, so we could not get a clear photograph of the nest.


I am fascinated by Hummingbirds. Late summer, usually late July, August, and into September, you can see these little birds feeding furiously before they migrate to warmer climates.

The Hummingbird is territorial and will chase any other bird from its feeding territory. So fast and stealthy, these birds are a joy to watch and an even bigger challenge to photograph because they move so quickly.

Photographing these little birds requires a camera with a good lens and capable of adjusting the shutter in order to capture their speed.


This little Hummingbird above was one of many I photographed during a visit to Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Park in Petersburg, Ilinois. If you look closely, this little guy is banded on his left leg. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to catch these little bandits and then band them.

Other birds

Great Blue Herron

This Great Blue Heron just showed up in our backyard one afternoon late in the summer. Tragically, we think this guy was looking for a new home due to loss of habitat. A local pond where we have seen these many times before was intentionally drained to remove Carp infestation. Very sad.

Bobwhite Quail

This Bobwhite Quail I photographed with several females that were not nearly as colorful.

The Bobwhite Quail has become a rare bird to find around many parts of the Midwest where they were once plentiful. Loss of habitat and overhunting has driven down numbers. However, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has done a good job with the conservation of this bird.

Northern Flicker Woodpecker


Not one of my best photos, but this little guy was making a nest in a hollow tree about 50 or 60 yards from where I was sitting. He was very aware of us and would fly away with any movement from our direction. Look how well he blends in.

I have not seen another Northern Flicker before or since I saw this guy.

Ring Neck Pheasant


The Pheasant, much like the Quail, is experiencing steadily declining populations over the past few decades. Farming efficiency, which ultimately means loss of habitat, is the primary reason these birds are struggling.

Other wildlife

The remainder of my wildlife photos are of animals kept in captivity.

red fox
Red Fox

This beautiful fella was photographed at Wildlife Prairie Park, near Peoria, Illinois. His handler held him snug while we captured some photos.


Skunk – need we say more. Just kidding. This little animal was very inquisitive of people. Again, captured in captivity at Wildlife Prairie Park.


The great Bison. You obviously don’t see these majestic animals roaming around any longer around the Midwest. There was a time that they would have been found in this area, but the only way you see these animals now is in captivity or in large preserves, such as Yellowstone National Park.

This photo again was taken at Wildlife Prairie Park.


In closing, I am making some photography goals for myself in the new year.

An already planned trip to Big Sky, Montana in the summer of 2019 for my birthday should produce some incredible photos to share with readers of Midwest Bliss. I hope to capture several larger species of wildlife in nature – Bison, Elk, Wolf, and maybe even a Grizzly Bear. I’ll be cautious of a bear though – a Midwest guy all my life, I’ve never been anywhere near a bear.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of my favorite photos from the past year. I have certainly enjoyed being in nature and seeing the gifts we have been provided in the habitat they belong.

Thank you all for your loyalty and support.

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    1. That was one of those “chance” encounters when you least expect it. I just happened to be driving a rural road in a State Park known for having lots of wildlife. This Owl was just sitting in a tree near the road. Never did move – I left him sitting right where I photographed him. That photo won an honorable mention in a local wildlife contest I entered it in. I’m proud of it. Thanks for stopping by.

  1. OMG we feed the hummingbirds every year. I never thought to look for a band! The Blue Heron like to visit my gold fish in my pond… I put a deer net over the pond to keep them from being eaten.

    1. Yes – that’s why the Heron was hanging out in our yard. The neighbor has a garden pond with small fish and frogs – free meals. Thanks for stopping by

  2. Great shots. I love the challenge of bird photography. I envy your Owl shots. I have just relocated to Arizona and can’t wait to spot all the new critters here.

    1. For sure – you should be able to see some region specific animals out that way. Owls are very illusive around where I live, so seeing one clearly is very rare. Thanks for stopping by 🙏🏻

  3. Jai,
    Love the pictures of the animals of the area & can’t wait to see more after your trip this summer!

    1. Thanks Michelle – I’ll do my best. Be in Montana mid-summer and really looking forward to it. Should be some great photos. Thanks for following along.

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