Good News Sunday: Millions of birds soar above the suburbs as spring migration peaks

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories recently published by the Daily Herald:

This week, millions of birds will fly through the night skies above the Chicago area as they travel from their winter homes down South to their summer breeding grounds in Canada and northern states like Wisconsin and Minnesota.

With spring migration in full swing, hundreds of species such as the Baltimore Oriole and Nashville Warbler are following Illinois’ rivers and Lake Michigan to find their way. Free of daytime temperatures, the birds are further aided by the stars, moon and stable night atmosphere.

“It’s an extremely exciting time of year for bird-watchers,” said Tom Prestby, Audubon Great Lakes Conservation Manager. “Beginning middle of May is really when everything comes together, and we have the highest number of species around that we're going to have at any time in the calendar year.”

And finally, the reason May is so exciting to avid bird-watchers: the neotropical migrants come.

“Those neotropical songbirds that we all get really excited about like warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, orioles, grosbeaks, buntings — they're all in peak migration right now,” Prestby said.

For the full story, click here.

  Lilacs show off their floral beauty in Lombard's Lilacia Park earlier this month. Lilac Time, the festival celebrating Lombard's favorite flower, ends with a parade down Main Street on Sunday, May 19. Katlyn Smith/

There’s still time to see the lilacs at Lilacia Park

The lilacs of Lilacia Park seemed to bloom early this spring.

The Lombard Park District moved its “bloom 'o' meter” dial to “fully blooming” an entire week before the Lilac Queen coronation, a village tradition of more than 90 years.

But Lombard historians and lilac experts, the people who tend to the park and know the story behind every notable plant, shrub and weeping white mulberry tree, add some context.

“The lilacs don’t bloom at all one time. So there’s always something to see in Lilacia Park during Lilac Time,” said Alison Costanzo, the executive director of the Lombard Historical Society. “Even though we’ve already hit peak bloom, the park still looks fabulous.”

Lilac Time is a nearly monthlong celebration that, while centering on the park, earns the town its singular status as the “Lilac Village.” Lombardians have lilac bushes in their front yards. The Babcock’s Grove House restaurant has prepared Key lime lemon lilac pies with edible petals.

“We have our gift shop here in the Lilac Emporium, and people tell me year-round I don't have enough purple in the store,” Costanzo said. “And we have a lot of purple.” Bloom colors range from white to pink to magenta to deep purple.

Lilac Time’s last event is a parade down Main Street at 1 p.m. today.

For the full story, click here.

  Palatine police Officer Shane Murray, right, receives the Life Saving Award from police Chief William Nord at Monday's village council meeting. Steve Zalusky/

Palatine police officer honored for saving man from drowning

Palatine police officer Shane Murray has only been on the force since August, but it hasn’t taken long for him to make an impression.

Murray received his department’s Lifesaving Award during Monday’s village council meeting for his bravery March 5, when he rescued a man from drowning in a pond.

Several officers, including Murray, responded to a report of a man yelling for help. Murray spotted the man crying for help while trying to tread water on the far end of a pond. Murray jumped into the cold water, swam out to the man and brought him to shore. His actions allowed other officers to carry the man to a nearby squad car and provide aid until firefighters arrived.

Murray, who served 12 years of active duty in the U.S. Army, including in Afghanistan, shared credit Monday with the other officers who took part in the rescue.

“I was pretty confident that I had a good team out there with me,” he said. “We were getting out of that water one way or the other. So it was easy not to hesitate. It was mostly just get in and get it done.”

For the full story, click here.

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