This year, Chicago Audubon has accepted a challenge from the Forest Preserves of Cook County to explore the rich bird life of the forest preserves and to engage some new birders while we’re doing it. #birdthepreserves is an initiative that will connect new and diverse communities to the preserves by expanding birding programs and partnerships.
The forest preserves are rich in bird life, and we want to make 2016 the year we trek though lots and lots of grasslands, wetlands, shrublands, savannas and woodlands … and see lots and lots of birds! We are especially excited about the Big Year competition, which runs from March 1 through December 31, 2016. There are two competitions:
~~Which preserve has the most bird species? (Judged by the number of bird species accepted by eBird for the site hotspot.)
~~Which preserve team engages the most new birders in their Big Year efforts? (Judged by field trip attendance sheets.)
Chicago Audubon’s official team will be led by our president, Dave Willard and will bird the Skokie Lagoons, famed for its spring warblers and migrating waterfowl. We are also sponsoring other walks: Salt Creek (spring migrants, woodlands), Spring Creek (grasslands), Paul Douglas (grasslands, migrating waterfowl and herons) and Miller Meadow (spring migrants, grasslands), along with not one but two woodcock walks. You’ll find all the details following this article and on our website (chicagoaudubon.org).
The forest preserves will be featuring “Bird of the Month” posters and rack cards at their six nature centers:
~March: American Woodcock
~April: Wood Duck
~May: Baltimore Oriole
~June: Great Egret
~August: Ruby-throated Hummingbird
~September: Black-capped Chickadee
~October: Red-bellied Woodpecker
~November: Eastern Screech-Owl
Here’s how you can participate:
~Bird at our team site, the Skokie Lagoons, (or at one of our sister sites, Salt Creek, Spring Creek or Paul Douglas and more--all are listed below) and enter your sightings into the eBird hotspot (not an eBird “personal location”). If you haven’t used eBird, it’s easy to join at www.ebird.org;
~Come on out to our field trips and bring your friends! We want to introduce new people to Chicago Audubon and to birding. We’re going to some fantastic places with some excellent guides. The Forest Preserves’ new bird checklist will be available on all trips, and there are small prizes for new birders who reach the milestones of 25, 50 and 75 birds;
~Send ideas for groups of potential new birders that we might want to reach out to: firstname.lastname@example.org;
~When you post on social media about Cook County forest preserve birds, use the hashtag #birdthepreserves;
~Check out the many activities at fpdcc.com/birding. You can join our Big Year team or sign up for training. You’ll find more field trips, a series of Bird Conservation Success Story walks, and more.
The following is a list of upcoming bird walks. Please be sure to keep an eye on this website for any changes in dates and times.
In the Fall and Winter (more to be scheduled)
September 29 (Thursday, 7:30 a.m.): Busse Woods Forest Preserve Bird Walk (surrounded by Schaumburg/ElkGrove Village/Arlington Heights. We'll be searching for late migrant warblers, flycatchers, sparrows, early waterfowl, and year round resident birds. Wear hiking boots (we'll be walking on paved and unpaved paths), bring binoculars. The walk will last about 2 hours. Meet in the parking lot of the Boathouse at the far end of the Busse Woods Boating Center entrance. The entrance is just west of the new bridge over Higgins Road, and just east of I-290/IL 53. Walk leader and contact is Alan Anderson. Maximum is 15 participants. Please register with Alan at email@example.com. You do not need to be a member of Chicago Audubon to join our walks!
October 4 (Tuesday, 7:00 a.m.): Skokie Lagoons Bird Walk, Winnetka. The Walk will last about two hours, but because this walk is on a weekday, join us for as long as you can and leave early if you need to get to work. Meet at the Forest Preserve parking lot north of Willow Road, just east of the Edens Expressway in Winnetka. Keep checking this website (chicagoaudubon.org) for confirmation in case we need to change the starting time or location. Walk leader and contact: Dave Willard, firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-665-7731. You do not need to be a member of Chicago Audubon to join our walks!
October 7 (Friday, 7:30 a.m.): Penny Road Pond Preserve, Barrington Hills. This walk will target the later-fall migrants. Please contact Craig Stettner at email@example.com or (847) 239-3765 for more information.
October 14 (Friday, 8:00 a.m.): Salt Creek Bird Walk, Western Springs. Meet at the Bemis Woods parking lot on the west side of Wolf Road, south of 31st Street and north of Ogden in Western Springs. Walk leader and contact: Doug Stotz, firstname.lastname@example.org. You do not need to be a member of Chicago Audubon to join our walks!
November 19 (Saturday, 7:30 a.m.): Penny Road Pond Preserve, Barrington Hills. The winter birds will be here, and we will find them. Please contact Craig Stettner at email@example.com or (847) 239-3765 for more information.
We look forward to birding with you!