Daddy woodpecker nurtures nestling for Forest Preserve photo contest win

Minooka resident Eileen Capodice captured the final monthly win in the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s 2021 Preserve the Moment Photo Contest with her shot of a daddy woodpecker feeding its hungry nestling.

Now that the sixth annual photo contest has concluded with its final monthly winner, overall winners will be chosen via public voting on the Forest Preserve’s Facebook page,, starting Thursday, Jan. 6. (See details below.)

Capodice snapped December’s winning shot at McKinley Woods – Frederick’s Grove in Channahon. After noticing the birds on a hike earlier in the year, she kept checking in on them.

“Eventually, after about a two-month period from when I first spotted it, I noticed the babies’ heads poking out of the hole,” she wrote in an email after being notified of her win. “After much patience, I captured the dad feeding the juveniles. … In the days after this photo was taken, the babies had fledged from the nest and the entire forest preserve was echoing with the sounds of the new family. It was pretty awesome to witness and capture some cool moments throughout the whole process.”

Being in the woods and observing nature helped her make it through 2021, she said.

“This past year particularly for me, the Will County forest preserves continued to prove to be a wonderful resource as an outlet to explore, de-stress, get some nature therapy, learn some new things about photography and my camera settings, and in the process capture some new and exciting moments with my lens to share with others.”

Honorable mentions in December were awarded to: JoAnne Salime of Naperville for a butter yellow American water lily at McKinley Woods; Deepak Sibel of Naperville for sandhill cranes moseying through water at Whalon Lake Preserve; Deepak Sibel for a pectoral sandpiper basking in its reflection at Whalon Lake; Carol Goolsby of Joliet for ethereal fungi sprouting at Hammel Woods preserve.

More than 800 photos were entered in the contest, which began May 1 and concluded Dec. 31. December’s winning photo was the last of eight monthly finalists chosen by judges for the 2021 contest.

Two rounds of public online voting via the Forest Preserve District’s Facebook page will determine the overall contest winners. Round one will narrow the eight finalists to three; round two will pick the overall winners. Round one will take place from noon Thursday, Jan. 6, through 11:59 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12. Round two is set for noon Thursday, Jan. 13, to 11:59 a.m. Monday, Jan. 17. Each Facebook comment and “like” on individual photo posts counts as a vote.

Overall contest winners will receive Visa gift cards of $500 for first place; $250 for second place; and $150 for third place. Monthly winners and contest participants also received prizes. All prizes are funded by The Nature Foundation of Will County.