Say you are visiting Illinois or new to the area and would like to go birding or shoot wildlife photography with someone who knows the territory. Check out the Illinois chapter of BirdingPals. It’s free and some of the volunteers are even bilingual!
This and That…
Next Club Meeting
October 9, 2014 7:30 p.m
Topic: Restoring an internationally important complex of wetlands, prairie, and savanna: the 2,700-acre Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.
Up until 2001, the 2,700-acre Dixon Waterfowl Refuge was just another corn and soybean levee district on the Illinois River whose members were struggling to make ends meet. In April of that year, the Wetlands Initiative acquired the district and began restoring the mosaic of wetland and upland habitats that once characterized much of the Illinois River floodplain and its adjacent areas. Thirteen years later, the refuge is one of the most diverse and truly spectacular natural areas in the state. More than 600 native plant species have been identified across the landscape, which supports an equally impressive cross-section of Illinois’ wildlife, including over 270 bird species and a diversity of butterflies, dragonflies, fish, herps, and mammals. The strategy that made this restoration succeed was based the principal that high levels of biological diversity result in strong and resilient ecological functioning. From the beginning, the goal was to restore as much native plant diversity as possible in order to provide the structural framework needed to support the rich wildlife diversity once found throughout the north-central Illinois River Valley. In recognition of this effort, the Dixon Refuge was recognized in 2012 as one of only 34 sites in the United States as a wetland of international importance, based on the rare, high-quality wetlands found there and the massive numbers of migratory waterfowl dependent upon the site.
Gary Sullivan is the senior ecologist with The Wetlands Initiative, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Chicago that is dedicated to restoring wetland resources in the Midwest. Gary received a doctorate in the reproductive ecology of aquatic plants from Binghamton University, NY with Dr. John Titus in 1995. He conducted postdoctoral research for four years with Dr. Joy Zedler at [more…]
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Welcome to the DuPage Birding Club!
Founded in 1985, the DuPage Birding Club is nationally known as one of the largest and most active birding groups in Illinois. Our mission is to promote birding among our 200+ members and the general public through education and field experiences that take advantage of the various habitats in DuPage County, the greater Chicago area, and other regional hotspots.
Upcoming Field Trips
Field Trip Participants: Please dress for weather and trail conditions and bring protection from biting insects. We expect everyone to enjoy birding in a safe manner by being careful and prudent.
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Superb Owl Sunday VI Trip Report - Febuary 2, 2014
Cold, snowy weather did not deter a group of 18 birders from searching for owls on the sixth annual Superb Owl Sunday. We chose to stay local this year and met at Whalon Lake Forest Preserve at noon. We started with a hike through the pines at WL. We found a couple of Brown Creepers working their way up the tree trunks in search of food. Several Downy Woodpeckers and a few White-breasted Nuthatches were also present. Along the woods edge several White-throated Sparrows foraged in the shrubs. But no owls were found.
We then car-pooled to southwestern Bolingbrook where we immediately located one of the Snowy Owls which have been present for several weeks. Several scopes were set up and everyone got good looks at the bird. We got a bonus when a helicopter flew nearby. The Snowy took flight and travelled several hundred yards before settling back down in the field.
Our final stop was Hidden Lakes Nature Center in Bolingbrook. The feeders had plenty of activity with a number of Tree Sparrows, Juncos, [more….]
Mississippi River Trip Report - Febuary 16, 2014
Urs Geiser led a group of eight birders on his annual Mississippi River Eagle field trip. We squeezed everyone into 2 vehicles and headed west on I-88. Along the way we saw several Red-tailed Hawks and 3 Rough-legged Hawks during the 2+ hour drive. We arrived at Lock & Dam 13 to find very little open water and few birds. Only 20 some Bald Eagles were present. Upon hearing that an American White Pelican was present but not visible as it stuck close to the lock wall, one goofball walked on the water (frozen) to confirm its presence.
We went south from there checking feeders and areas of open water. We did well at the feeders finding the main target species, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, at feeders on River Road in Rock Island County. Other good feeder birds were Red-headed Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, and Red-breasted Nuthatch. A group of 12 Wild Turkeys were found crossing the road as we continued to car-bird our way south. We would find a few more Bald Eagles here and there as well as Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneye. [more….]
Wednesday, October 1, 8:30 a.m.
Whalon Lake FP, Napervill e
Leader: Davida Kalina
Friday, October 3, 8:00 a.m.
Herrick Lake, Wheaton
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Click on the icon to read recent DBC Field Trip Reports
New study uses eBird data to define migration flyways for terrestrial birds
In one of the greatest feats of endurance in the biological world, millions of tiny songbirds—many weighing less than an ounce—migrate thousands of miles to Central and South America each year. Now scientists are finding out how these featherweights do it: using elliptical routes that take advantage of prevailing wind patterns to save calories. “Most of what we’ve known about migration routes comes from ducks and geese,” said Frank La Sorte, a Cornell Lab of Ornithology research associate and lead author of a [more…]
Mississippi River Waterfowl Report - March 22, 2014
Jeff Chapman led a group of nine on his annual Mississippi River Trip looking for waterfowl and other regional specialties. We started the trip further south this year due to frozen conditions upriver. Lock & Dam 14 was the first stop. Eleven duck species were recorded here including Greater Scaup and a lone Red-breasted Merganser (two species which arenʼt always found). Good numbers of American White Pelicans and Bald Eagles were found here as well. http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17601336.
We worked north along the river with a brief stop in Cordova where the normally reliable overlook waspretty much devoid of ducks. A few feeder birds were recorded. We checked along River Road north of town for more feeder birds with the main target being Eurasian Tree Sparrow. This was one case where being in the lead car did not work out as the back of the pack found an E Tree and 2 Eurasian Collared Doves. A couple of Red-headed Woodpeckers was the only other highlight. http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17601414. A roadside stop just south [more….]
Just when we all got those warblers and their songs comfortably into our heads again, it’s time to refresh our knowledge of their autumn plumages. Many of Illinois’ avian breeders are finishing off the season; for some second broods are on the way. In the woods and prairies, fledglings are working on making it on their own. Shorebirds already have begun their southward journeys. Hawk watchers are setting up to skan the skies. All of us are gearing up for the fall migration.
Yesterday I visited Mayslake to get in some quick birding before predicted heavy rains hit. Evident in the parking lots, across the sprawling lawn of the Peabody estate, along the shores of both lakes and in the prairie and wetlands were familiar birds of summer. Chimney swifts lanced through the skies above the mansion. American goldfinches popped out from around every corner (or perhaps I should say from under every leaf). Bluejays made a ruckus, one even doing the old squeaky water pump routine as I made my way eastward along Trinity Lake. Surprised by my approach, a small shorebird silently lifted off from the shoreline of Mays’ Lake. Curious black-capped chickadees hopped out upon the branches of fully leafed-out trees to watch my passage. Here and there an American robin whinnied from beneath thick brush. A descending cadence spilled out from overhead, revealing a downy woodpecker hidden foraging among the leaves above. Near the trail a brilliant red cardinal appeared, obviously molting its head feathers. A short trip, hot and muggy, it was nevertheless great to be out with all of them.
I hope you all can get out for some birding soon. Some great options are available. Join DBC’s field trips as we traverse through multiple habitats and the seasonal change from summer to autumn. Bring your camera along and pen a few paragraphs; send a trip report along to Jim Green for possible inclusion on the website. Participate in the Greene Valley Hawk Watch (begins September 1) and don’t forget Cornell’s annual Project Feeder Watch (begins 2nd Saturday in November). Please remember to keep informed on conservation issues and act in the best interest of the birds!
See you on the trails,
DuPage Birding Club
Will County Big Day Trip! May, 2014
Joan Norek was the winning bidder at the DBC Auction for the Will County Big Day field trip. We scheduled the trip for May 17th and prepared by monitoring eBird reports as well as personal scouting trips. We planned to meet at 3:30 a.m. which would put us at our first stop well before sunrise. The plan was to start in the far southern parts of the county and finish the day back north. On our way to our first stop near Braidwood a very light raptor flew across our path just above the headlights, which may have been a Barn Owl. We were unable to relocate the bird so it went uncounted. Our first stop was to listen for Whip-poor-will. A very distant Whip was calling when we got out of the car. We walked down the road further and were able to hear a much closer bird call for several minutes. A Woodcock or two were also peenting and displaying in the area. Before we left the area, a Wild Turkey gave a couple of gobbles which saved us a trip to look for them later. We next headed for Kankakee River S.P. To look for warblers. Kentucky, Prothonatary, and Yellow-throated Warblers can often be found in the Will Co. areas of the park. We were able to find Kentucky but missed the other 2. Several other more common warblers were added as were the hard to find Pileated Woodpecker. Nearby back roads got us a Lincoln's Sparrow and a Eurasian Collared Dove. [more….]
Birding Opportunities: Have you heard about Beaver Island? As the the largest island in Lake Michigan, Beaver is a critical stopover for migratory birds flying over the lake on their way north to breeding grounds. Many birds stay to nest. The Beaver Island Birding Trail encompasses more than 12,000 acres of state and township lands and four Little Traverse Conservancy preserves where examples of each of the Island’s diverse habitats can be found. The island hosts a rich array of migrating, nesting and resident birds offering birders of all levels unique and satisfying experiences. With high quality habitats, great public access, and diverse bird species the Island makes the perfect place for a birding trail. For more information visit: http://www.beaverislandbirdingtrail.org.
Saturday, October 4, 7:30 a.m.
Springbrook Prairie, Naperville
Sunday, October 5, 7:00 a.m.
DeKalb County Birding Trip
Leader: Urs Geiser
Wednesday, October 8, 7:30 a.m.
Morton Arboretum, Lisle
Leader: Marcia & Lee Nye
Saturday, October 11, 7:30 a.m.
Cantigny Park, Wheaton
Leader: Jeff Reiter
Midewin Trip - July 5, 2014
We had some decent weather for a late afternoon walk at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie on the 5th of July and the birds cooperated as well. Thirteen birders started at the Iron Bridge Trailhead and hiked east. Several House Wrens chattered away as we walked through the wood lot next to the parking lot. Entering the grasslands we stopped to look at Dickcissels and Indigo Buntings before proceeding after our target species. We went east on the southern leg of the Group 63 trail where several Grasshopper Sparrows and Eastern Meadowlarks were calling. We eventually got decent looks at the former as well as Bobolink. A Blue Grosbeak could be heard up ahead but before we could walk toward it another popped up on the fence nearby. A couple pairs of Northern Mockingbirds flew back and forth across the trail as we headed for the "Shrike" spot. Scanning the fences we saw a Loggerhead Shrike perched in the distance. It stayed long enough for a couple of us to get scope views. We moved on to get better looks. Reaching the corner of the fence line we could now see 3 Loggerhead Shrikes on the fence. This time everyone got good looks. We pushed forward to see if we could locate the other shrike family a quarter mile up the road. We found one adult bird and turned back to our cars.
We next drove to the Explosives Road Trailhead. Here we looked for Henslow's Sparrow and Bell's Vireo. Henslow's Sparrows were heard but not seen. Light rain moved in so we cut our walk short and called it a day.
Trip lists can be seen at : http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19001824 http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19001827
A Visit To the National Aviary
Although I have managed to work in some birding on nearly every trip I have taken, I have never taken a trip for the expressed purpose of birding. Like many of you, birding has to take place in the cracks and crevices of my family and professional life. I was delighted, therefore, when on an August visit to some friends in Pittsburgh, they suggested we visit the National Aviary.
Some history: Even though the U.S. Congress honored the aviary in 1993 by allowing it to call itself the “national” aviary, the aviary is not connected with the federal government. Located in a park on the city’s north side, the aviary was built by the city of Pittsburgh in 1952, but because the city was losing its tax base, the aviary’s public funding ended in 1991. At that time, volunteers and community leaders developed a business plan and raised money that allowed the aviary to continue operations. Since then, various capital campaigns and donations have allowed the aviary to continue, as well as to expand its educational and conservation programs. Today it is the largest indoor nonprofit aviary in the United States, whose collection of 500 birds representing 150 species exceeds even the National Zoo’s collection in Washington, D.C.
Except for some holidays, the aviary is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. There is an admission of $14 to $25 adults (depending on how many shows are seen), and seniors receive a slight discount. There are visitor centers at each entrance, one with the obligatory gift shop. The indoor exhibits are mostly open flight [more….]
IL-DuPage: Hidden Lake Forest Preserve, DuPage, US-IL Black-crowned Night-Heron 2 Eastern Kingbird 2 Common Grackle 18
Aug 20, 2014 6:00 PM - 8:40 PM Spotted Sandpiper 1 Blue Jay 4
Protocol: Traveling Solitary Sandpiper 5 Tree Swallow 2
3.0 mile(s) Lesser Yellowlegs 4 Barn Swallow 7
Comments: Warm and muggy; thunderstorms moving in. Semipalmated Sandpiper 1 White-breasted Nuthatch 2
40 species Ring-billed Gull 2 American Robin 16
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 5 Gray Catbird 2
Canada Goose 14 Geese settled on the slough after sunset. Mourning Dove 2 European Starling 1
Wood Duck 8 Common Nighthawk 6 Cedar Waxwing 33
Mallard 24 Chimney Swift 2 Common Yellowthroat 1
Double-crested Cormorant 3 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 3 Eastern Towhee 1
Great Blue Heron 1 Eagle Lake after sunset Belted Kingfisher 1 Song Sparrow 7
Great Egret 2 Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Northern Cardinal 5
Green Heron 1 Downy Woodpecker 3 Indigo Bunting 1
Killdeer 5 Hairy Woodpecker American Goldfinch 4
Sunday, October 12, 7:30 a.m.
Oakhurst Forest Preserve, Aurora, Kane County
Leader: Terry Murray
Friday, October 17, 4:30 p.m.
South Blackwell Forest Preserve
Leader: Kyle Wiktor
Saturday, October 18, 7:30 A.M.
Pratt's Wayne Woods
Sunday, October 19, 7:30 a.m.
McKee Marsh, Warrenville
Leader: Kyle Wiktor
Sunday, October 19, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Greene Valley FP Hawk Watch, Part 2, Naperville
Leader: Jeff Smith
Wednesday, October 22, 8:00 a.m.
St James Farm, Warrenville
Leader: Laurel Salvador
Saturday, October 25, 7:00 a.m.
Glacial Park, McHenry County
Co-Leader: John Cebula/Bob and Jean Spitzer
Greene Valley Hawk Watching Field Trip Report
Even though this was ʻpart oneʼ of our Hawk Watch series of field trips, it should have been called ʻpart threeʼ as temperatures were more typical of November than
September. Still we had a good turnout of 15+ participants. After a brief orientation on how the hawkwatch operates we settled down to watch for migrants. The first hour was somewhat slow with only 3 migrating raptors, 1 Osprey, 1 Cooperʼs Hawk and 1 RedtailedHawk. Local non-migrants kept viewers busy as they hunted and chased each other around the hill. Things picked up a bit after noon as we added 3 immature Bald Eagles and a Turkey Vulture to the trip list in the next 2 hours. Those that stuck it out to the end were rewarded with great views of a Peregrine Falcon circling over the east end of the hill. Raptors werenʼt the only birds seen on the hill. We saw a total of 10 Sandhill Cranes and several flocks of Double-crested Cormorants heading south. Chimney Swifts and Barn Swallows were always present and at least 4 Hummingbirds zipped past heading north into the wind. Those of us who were up on the hill early witnessed a hill first when 2 large, dark, wading type birds flew north, directly over us. We were stumped for a minute or so as to their identification but soon narrowed it down to Glossy or Whitefaced Ibis. We also saw a Black-bellied Plover and a flock of 50 or more American White Pelicans all before the hill opens to the public. The full eBird report for the day can be found at :http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19822078 . All of our Hawkwatch data can be viewed by visiting www.hawkcount.org . Part 2 of our hawkwatch series will be in October when there is a chance to see Golden Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks, and other later migrants. You are always welcome to join us on Saturday and Sunday mornings through October. The hill is open to the public from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. [more….]
Sunday, October 26, 7:00 a.m.
Hennepin Area, Illinois River
Leader: Jeff Smith
Wednesday, October 29 8:00a.m.
Lyman Woods, Downers Grove
Leader: Joan Campbell
Website Design: Jim Green Photos: Christian Goers