July means high summer, a time when the world slows down a bit in the heat.  Nature is settling in for the sunny season.  It’s a very green and lush world out there, as long as the occasional afternoon rains happen often enough.

You hear less bird song than you did in the spring, though there are some diehards out there in the heat singing away.  This Indigo Bunting sang enthusiastically while I took pictures of him.

Many birds are winding up their nesting activities, though you can still see and hear juveniles being fed.  You’ll encounter young birds tagging along with their parents in the trees and on the ground.  Some birds are working on additional clutches of eggs, or are just late nesters, like American Goldfinches.  You may notice groups of young birds hanging out together- Barn and Tree Swallows, for instance, who have left the care of their hard-working parents and are now enjoying their youth.

The cicadas can be heard making their racket from nearby trees.  This is the classic sign of high summer to me.  Common Nighthawks cry from above at twilight, replacing the soaring patrol of Turkey Vultures during the day.

In meadows, prairie plants are coming to life.  Black Eyed Susans are joined by other colorful wildflowers.  And in the woods, the mysteriously-named Enchanter’s Nightshade can be seen.  Here’s a Common Yellowthroat, another July songster, sitting in a Tall Coreopsis in a prairie meadow.

Berries are to be found to eat this month, one of the pleasures of the season for both people and wildlife.

Enjoy summer!  At least when the heat index isn’t in the triple digits…early morning is best for me.