Archive for the ‘Chicago Romantic Getaway’ Category

How would you like to see a fireball of citrus orange and black, the Baltimore oriole next to the breathtaking tropical blue of the male Indigo Bunting? Look no further, come to northwest Indiana to Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast and as you enjoy your three course hot breakfast, you will see the colorful birds serenade and entertain you.

Appearing all black against the light, the male indigo bunting properly lit is an unforgettable sight. A persistent late-season singer, he sings a jingly song comprised of paired notes that are often described as: Fire! Fire! Where! Where! Here! Here! Put it out! Put it out! Much of what we know about celestial navigation in songbirds derives from work with captive buntings at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but you don’t have travel far from downtown Chicago to see the Indigo. Just 45 minutes southeast to the country of Valparaiso, IN home of Valparaiso University.

The male indigo bunting is so breathtaking with its tropical blue and silvery bill. The females and immatures are a warm cocoa brown overall. This bunting has a habit of twitching its tail to the side, and its spit note is characteristic. Males change their blue feathers for brown in autumn, which makes for some interestingly mottled specimens. They molt again on the wintering grounds in Central and northern South America and return in spring, blue once more. This species is common on roadsides and disturbed areas there “trashy” vegetation flourishes. Power lines cuts, old fields, landfills, railroads, and hedgerows ring with the songs of indigo buntings, especially as summer reaches its fullest. That is where you will find them right here at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast.

The indigo bunting takes insects when they are available, especially to feed its nestlings. Weed seeds are its mainstay, and thistle from the feeders, supplemented by berries and small fruits. It forages on or near the ground, as well as in low shrubs and trees. Watch for them in autumn, bending grass stems and flickering their tails side to side as they forage in weedy patches here at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast. Indigo buntings have a rather loose definition of monogamy, with extra pair copulations being frequent. Males visit females in neighboring territories, and females visit males. Males vary in their tendency to feed young. Some are attentive parents where as other leave most of the chick rearing to their mates. The nest is bulky but compact, cup-shaped and constructed of bark strips, grasses and weed stems and skeletonized leaves, all bound with spider webs. It’s often low in blackberry, sumac or other brushy vegetation. These birds nest quite late in the season, reflecting their dependence on late maturing weed seeds. Three to four eggs are incubated by the female for about 12 days, and the young leave the nest 8-14 days later. Early in the spring you may see them feasting on dandelion seeds. Later, black oil sunflower seeds and millet mixed prove attractive. They love coneflower, Mexican hat, cosmos, coreopsis and especially foxtail grasses. Come and enjoy the beauty of the indigo bunting here at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast.



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Special BOGO Midweek Stay

Two nights

$25.00 off Dinner@ Bon Femme

One day plated breakfast

½ off Mani Pedi @ Cinnamon Tree

$25.00 off $50.00 at Lifestyles Gifts

$25.00 off Dinner @ don Quijote

One day continental breakfast

Offer starts 11-1-11

Two night Monday-Tuesday stays only. You will be
wise as an owl when you choose this special! Migrate to Songbird Prairie for a
two-night stay for two all just 50 miles southeast of Chicago.

Flutter past the front door and choose among the Robin, Bluebird, Cardinal, and Purplefinch Suites at the property named one of Midwest Living‘s favorite B&Bs and “one of the 20 perfect summer getaways” by Travel + Leisure.

All rooms have warming gas fireplaces and spa tubs for two with the relaxing and soothing benefits of Chromotherapy. You’ll wake up chirping after your first night on plush beds, and then enjoy a breakfast in the sunroom, listening to the sweet songs of the birds through microphones to the outside. Trade in your bird’s-eye view of nature for one that’s up close and personal when you plan a visit to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where Karner Blue butterflies flit, swallows nest, and waves crash along the shores. Shop at the nearby Lifestyles before dining on duck à l’orange at Bon Femme Café or tapas and paella at Restaurante don Quijote.

Trust us—this Escape is not just for the birds.

  • “The lovely Colonial country home with white-trimmed
    dormers may attract visitors, but it’s the grounds’ prairie grass, roses, and
    many trees that lure the namesake songbirds on their way to and from the
    Indiana Dunes.”

Travel + Leisure

$300-$350 depending on room choice 877-766-4273

taxes not included

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Tall Ships in Chicago

Tall Ships on Parade at Chicago’s Navy Pier
Navy Pier is launching their latest exhibit, Tall Ships. The ships are moving in on Thursday, Aug.11-14. They will parade along Chicago’s lakefront with as many as 20 ships will dock at Navy Pier. Once at Navy Pier, the ships can be viewed, boarded and explored. It’s $15 to view, $20 to board and excursions start at $44. The ships are from around the world Canada, Germany, Netherlands, to name a few. Hollywood has dropped its anchor here. The “Bounty” will be there which once hosted such famous people at the helm as Cary Grant. Then it was taken off of the ship and put in a sound stage and used in every nautical movie from 1935-1962. John Wayne stood in front of it in Sea of the Red Witch. Marland Brando used it in Mutiny on the Bounty, Charlton Heston in Treasure Island, Monty Python in Yellowbeard and Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. And let’s not forget Spongebob Square pants either.
The cost is $15 for a viewing $20 for ship crawl and to board and sail to fulfill a pirates fantasy, a sailaway excursion starts at $44. Exit the hustle and bustle and come to the country to relax and reminisce from your adventure. Guestrooms start at $179.00 whirlpool and 3 course plated breakfast served here: no chance of scurvy! http://www.songbirdprairie.com 877.766.4274
In addition to the parade there will be a festival lasting six days. Fireworks are planned for each night.
For more information visit http://www.navypier.com .
Chicago Fireworks, Chicago Lakefront, Chicago Romantic Getaway, Indiana Dunes Hotel, Indianapolis Getaway, Indianapolis Romantic Getaway, Luxury Bed & Breakfast, Metro Indy Girls, Navy Pier, Northern Illinois Getaway, Romantic Bed & Breakfast Songbird Prairie in Northwest Indiana Online Reservations 877-766-4273, Southern Michigan Getaway, Tall Ships, The Bounty

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A bluebird checks out Karen Beatty's yard in Hunt Club Forest, Virginia Beach

As soon as the bluebirds start their fluttering up and down in front of the picture windows in the sunroom of our Bed and Breakfast, we hurry out to serve them their ” live” breakfast of  mealworms. You can almost hear them chirp back “thank you”. The feeder is about 10 feet from their nesting box and we installed a video cam to watch them.

We have so many understory trees native to our woodlands, including wild plum, sassafras, oak , sycamore and hickory. We have planted the bluebird’s favorite tree, the redbud, with those tasty berries. We look forward to the sometimes 3 broods of bluebirds in our boxes.  The songbirds perform their daily operas from dawn till dusk, loudly proclaiming their treetop territories. Many winged sopranos-meadowlark ,warbler, wren, robin, thrush, swallow, purple martin, oriole, and red-winged blackbird can be heard through our microphones in the sunroom.

We have 5 eggs in the front box and 4 in the box in the back meadow. The non-migratory birds blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, and goldfinches who toughed it out through the frozen months are now singing with joy for spring is in the air. Be sure to bring your binoculars and birding books, along with your camera. There are many great photo opts. See you soon! Make your reservation today.    For reservations call 877-766-4273 or book on-line at www.songbirdprairie.com

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Ever wonder how hummingbirds chirp?


It’s all in the tail!

Patricia Yollin, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, February 8, 2008

 How do those hummingbirds make that sound? Chronicle grap... An Anna's hummingbird perches on a bush at the Albany Bul... Teresa Feo (left) and Christopher Clark observe hummingbi...
Christopher Clark went to Strawberry Canyon in Berkeley and got a bad case of poison oak. Then he tried a shoreline park in Albany, where his camera was stolen and sopping-wet dogs covered his field notes with muddy paw prints.
Those were a few of the hurdles that Clark and colleague Teresa Feo overcame to produce a paper, just published in a prestigious British journal, exploring the physics of how birds make sound.


The title of their UC Berkeley study sums it up: “The Anna’s hummingbird chirps with its tail: a new mechanism of sonation in birds.”

Clark and Feo filmed the birds’ plunges and recorded the sound they made at the end of their roughly 50 mph descent from a height of 100 feet or more. High-speed video, at 500 frames per second, showed that the birds started their dives with their tails shut and suddenly spread them at the bottom, for one-twentieth of a second – quicker than a blinking eye.

“Now we have a greater understanding of what’s actually going on in really sophisticated behavior by one of our residents,” said Robert Dudley, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley. “It’s a pretty amazing sort of experiment. It took a lot of initiative, and they put in a huge amount of field time.”

Clark and Feo concluded that the squeaks and beeps made by the dive-bombing birds are not vocal – as some research has asserted – but instead are created by their tail feathers.

“I found it really interesting just because these birds were basically doing mechanical sounds,” said Feo, 22, who played clarinet in the Cal Band for four years. “It sort of speaks to the musician in me.”

Clark, who is finishing his Ph.D. in the department of integrative biology, began the project more than three years ago. He eventually acquired a collaborator in Feo, who graduated in May and is working at Cal’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. They had to obtain an array of permits from agencies ranging from the state Department of Fish & Game to the university’s Animal Care and Use Committee, which ensures that experiments are done ethically.

In the course of the research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Clark and Feo encountered many visitors to the Albany Bulb, a former dump that is part of Eastshore State Park.

“We had a lot of people ask what we were doing,” said the 28-year-old Clark, who also met up with any number of curious canines.

Before acquiring a car, he and Feo would take a bus to the Albany Bulb, hauling a duffel bag that held a stuffed hummingbird mounted on a stick and a cage they had made from netting and tent poles.

During the November-to-May breeding season, the Cal students devoted up to four hours at a time, two or three days a week, on the male Anna’s hummingbird – a magenta-splashed creature that looks like something you’d see in New Orleans during Mardi Gras or in San Francisco’s Castro district on Halloween.

Clark and Feo, aided over time by a dozen research assistants, lured the birds into traps, banded them and plucked or trimmed one of their tail feathers, which grow back after about five weeks and are not needed for flight. Then they captured their dives with audio and video equipment.

“It’s a great example of aerial acrobatics,” said Dudley, who is Clark’s graduate adviser. “And what’s really interesting is not only the mechanism of the chirp but also the timing. Everything is so beautifully synchronized. The males are using it to advertise to females.”

He said it’s an occasion where sound, color and movement come together.

“Everyone in the Bay Area can see this in our natural areas and parks,” Dudley said. “We see this on campus, remarkably enough.”

Clark said that people have known birds make sounds with their feathers since before the time of Charles Darwin, who wrote about it in his 1871 book, “The Descent of Man.” However, the physics of how non-vocal sounds are created hasn’t received much attention until recently, he said.

“The first year, I got basically no data,” Clark said. “I was figuring out how to do it.”

After he contracted poison oak in the thick brush of Strawberry Canyon, he relocated to the Albany Bulb because the trees and bushes are short, the birds perch at eye level, and they stand out against the blue sky, making them easier to photograph.

“There were other issues with the Bulb,” said Clark, recalling how he fell flat on his face chasing someone who had purloined his camera. It was all recorded.

“You can hear the crash of me hitting the bush,” said the researcher, who succeeded in catching the thief.

Clark and Feo employed dead birds from the Lindsay Museum in Walnut Creek and live caged birds to lure the male Anna’s hummingbird. The work was slowed by wind, rain and avian confusion.

“A big part of the project was sitting and waiting,” Clark said. “There were short moments when it was exciting.”

The researchers relied on several cameras, including a $50,000 model. They produced sounds from the feathers they’d collected by placing them in front of a jet of air or inside a wind tunnel. They decided, after painstakingly analyzing the male bird’s tail feathers – 10 total, five on each side – that the chirping sound comes from the fluttering of part of the inside edge of the outer feathers.

Clark, a bird-watcher since high school, said he likes to work with hummingbirds because they are common and easy to catch.

“If I didn’t study birds, I’d probably study something else that flies,” he said. “Flight fascinates me. I’m jealous – I wish I could fly.”

Local ornithologists and bird-watchers have long debated the source of the sound made by the diving male Anna’s hummingbird.

In the 1940s, a UC Berkeley graduate student stated in a published paper that he could produce sound by attaching one of the creature’s feathers to a strip of bamboo and whipping it through the air. However, a 1979 paper by the curator of birds at the California Academy of Sciences declared that the sound was vocal. Almost 30 years later, Clark and Feo have countered that argument.

“They’re fascinating little creatures,” Clark said. “And even though the landscape at the Albany Bulb seems kind of devastated, there’s interesting research to do in your own backyard.”

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We welcome you to our Inn

Songbird Prairie is featured in Midwest Living in the section “Out and About Chicago”. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is just an hour from the Loop; And so is Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast! We are a federal style home with five Luxurious Suites. Each room has a warming fireplace for winter enjoyment and double sized whirlpools to ease the cares of everyday life. We are tucked in the woods just 6 miles from downtown Valpo and a short drive from the sandy beaches of the Dunes National Lakeshore, great birding and easy bike trails. (Prairie Duneland Trail)


Five show homes from Chicago’s 1933-34 World’s Fair arrived in Beverly Shores 75 years ago on a Lake Michigan Barge. They are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are in various stages of restoration and will be open for Century of Progress tours October 22-24. tickets for the October 22 preview tour and reception are $75 remaining dates tickets for tours are only $15 (574-232-4534 indianalandmarks.org) Make your reservations for your stay now at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast $169-$249 www.songbirdprairie.com 877.766.4273 219.759.4274

Robin Suite
Where Luxury and Nature converse

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Rated By: iLoveInns Guests

Guest Reviews: Average rating: 5 hearts
write your own review


There are 3 Reviews:

Rating: 5 hearts
Title: Delightful Details
By: Carla – 2008-04-02 15:27:33
From the moment my husband and I arrived we were warmly greeted at the front door by our host Barbara. Our time at Songbird Prairie Inn was enchanting. We stayed in the Bluebird Room, with it’s lovely Bombay influenced decor. There was every attention to detail down to the pristinely ironed lace trimmed sheets and truffles under glass by each bed side. The mornings breakfast did not dissapoint either as we were served beautifully presented poached pears, fresh omelets, crispy bacon and warm apple pie. We will definitely return and have already given glowing reviews to many friends. Thank you Barbara for a wonderful and refreshing stay at your beautiful Inn!
iLoveInns Guest from Battle Ground, IN
Rating: 5 hearts
Title: Wonderful retreat
By: Christina – 2008-04-03 05:15:50
Our stay at the Songbird Prairie was wonderful. Her passion for the B&B really shines through with all the attention to detail. Our room was beautiful and so relaxing with the fireplace and jacuzzi tub. We peaked out the window just in time to see five deer wander through. As we stepped out of our room the next morning we were met with wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen. The breakfast alone was worth the trip, she is such a wonderful cook! We loved watching all the different varieties of birds flying around outside while we ate breakfast! What a wonderful experience! This is the best B&B that we have ever been too!
iLoveInns Guest from Lafayette, IN
Rating: 5 hearts
Title: Very Romantic!!
By: Lea & Craig Hortin – 2008-05-27 19:07:12
My husband and I spent two nights in the Bluebird Suite. Our room was so romantic. Barbara and Efrain have done a wonderful job of creating the perfect romantic getaway. Their property along with our room was simply magnificant. The breakfasts were delicious. It was so wonderful being able to enjoy all of the birds and wildlife while we stayed at this enchanting place. Thanks so much for creating such a magical place for others to stay. We hope to return again in the future.
iLoveInns Guest from Papillion, Nebraska

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