Bird Blitz 2009

This year we’ve done something a little different—scoured important sites for birds of all habitats, so that we may learn which birds are present and which parts of the site they are using. Whereas in past years we have tried to find every grassland bird in the region, and every shrubland bird, the goal of this year’s annual Bird Blitz was to count every bird in each of seven large preserves and gather with other blitzers afterwards to share findings and stories. The information we have gathered will address important conservation issues at each site.

Congratulations to all of the volunteers who participated in this year’s Blitz and helped collect important information:

Duane Heaton, Jenny Vogt, Lee Ramsey, Mary Lou Mellon, Judy Pollock, Al Thomas, Kathy Dehn, Sara Hendickson, Amar Ayyash, Steven Ambrose, Bob Harrison, Laura Berry, Michelle O'Connor, Aura Duke, Leslie McClintock, Mary Anne McLean, Pat Strange, Mary Burnett, Jim Green, Jeff Smith, Dave Yeager, Glen Gabanski, Diann Bilderback, Bob Fisher, Liza Gray, Claudia Grimm, Susan Kaley, Jim Dudas, Donnie Dann, Paul Sweet, Beau Schaefer, Jackie Dann, Gerry Batsford, Carla Schmakel, Rena Cohen, Bonnie Duman, Jeff Sanders, Jill Flexman, John Dalen, Margaret Mechtenberg, Gloria Dimoplon, Diane Benson, Cheryl Hayes, Jan Underwood, Ellie Shunas, Linda Gohlke, Sue Kaley, Barbara Meding, Karen Lund, Barbara Hill, Justin Pepper, John Navin, Alan Anderson, Teri Radke, Sandra Stearns, Joan Bruchman, Diana Granitto, Leo Miller, Matt Hokanson, Kirk Garanflo, Steve Flexman, Connor Flexman, Mary Bernat, Joan Norek, and Sheila Hoyos, Doug Crane, Maggie Crane, Randy Schietzelt, Nancy Schietzelt, Ann Haverstock, Matt Williamson, Jon Duerr, Julie Long, Terry Murray, Beau Schaefer, Judith Graber, and Linda Slavik

Here are the birds of concern we found at all sites. See below for the details of each blitz or download an excel spreadsheet with all birds sighted.

Birds of Concern Totals
Grassland Birds Shrubland Birds
Dickcissel 73 Black-billed Cuckoo 5
Henslow's Sparrow 30 Yellow-breasted Chat 5
Grasshopper Sparrow 37 Brown Thrasher 23
Bobolink 37 Willow Flycatcher 65
Sedge Wren 1 Field Sparrow 239
Eastern Meadowlark 42 Orchard Oriole 5
Western Meadowlark 9 Eastern Kingbird 60
Vesper Sparrow 2  
Woodland & Savanna Birds Wetland Birds
Veery 8 Marsh Wren 12
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 17 Black-crowned Night-Heron 4
Great Crested Flycatcher 28 Least Bittern 1
Northern Flicker 63 Sandhill Crane 3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 23 Urban Birds
Wood Thrush 8 Chimney Swift 19

Here are links to the details of each Blitz:

Taking our data to the next level:
Please see the detailed Habitat Map of Birds of Concern at Poplar Creek prepared by Lee Ramsey.

Paul Douglas Forest Preserve (Cook County North)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has recently begun mowing invasive brush here to make better grassland bird habitat. This raised the question—how much shrubland habitat do we have on site, compared to grassland habitat, and which birds are using it? The bird monitor at the site, Stan Stec, covers the grasslands. In this blitz, teams scoured the potential shrubland habitat—and found plenty of shrubland and thriving populations of birds of concern. We now know that the grassland can be cleared so that the grassland birds can thrive as well.

Participants: Duane Heaton (group organizer), Jenny Vogt, Lee Ramsey, Mary Lou Mellon, and Judy Pollock

Species of Concern Sighted
Grassland Birds Shrubland Birds
Dickcissel 1 Black-billed Cuckoo 1
Henslow's Sparrow 3 Yellow-breasted Chat 5
Bobolink 16 Brown Thrasher 4
Eastern Meadowlark 3 Willow Flycatcher 23
  Field Sparrow 47
Eastern Kingbird 5
Woodland & Savanna Birds Wetland Birds
Great Crested Flycatcher 4 Marsh Wren 1
Northern Flicker 10 Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Wood Thrush 1 Sandhill Crane 1
  Urban Birds
Chimney Swift 1

Plum Creek Nature Center, Plum Creek Greenway and Goodenow Grove (Will County)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Goodenow Grove Preserve, the site of Plum Creek Nature Center, is within the boundaries of Plum Creek Greenway in eastern Will County bordering on south Cook County. The Greenway meanders from Steger Road to Goodenow Road between I-394 and Stoney Island Avenue following Plum Creek through woods, open fields and restored prairie, bordering row crops, horse farms and a golf course. While Goodenow Grove has been an environmental learning center, walking trail park and picnic area for local school children and families for many years, the Forest Preserve District has little bird data for the area. Many years of successful spring bird counts, the diverse nature of habitat throughout the Greenway and the history of open land in this area encouraged Thorn Creek Audubon members to research the nesting birds. The 2009 Bird Blitz rewarded their efforts. Future blitzes are being planned already to cover more of the site with a bigger number of participants.

Participants: Al Thomas (group organizer), Kathy Dehn, Sara Hendickson, Amar Ayyash, Steven Ambrose, Bob Harrison, Laura Berry, Michelle O'Connor, Aura Duke, Leslie McClintock, Mary Anne McLean, Pat Strange, and Mary Burnett

Species of Concern Sighted
Grassland Birds Shrubland Birds
Dickcissel 3 Brown Thrasher 6
Eastern Meadowlark 5 Willow Flycatcher 2
Woodland & Savanna Birds Field Sparrow 28
Veery 6 Orchard Oriole 2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 6 Eastern Kingbird 23
Great Crested Flycatcher 8 Wetland Birds
Northern Flicker 10 Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 12 Urban Birds
  Chimney Swift 5

Pratt’s Wayne Forest Preserve (DuPage County)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County wanted information about this site for a number of reasons. It is one of their largest, most productive grassland and wetland complex, and a complete count would help them in their management decisions. Also, there will be a large increase in freight traffic through the site, so baseline data will be helpful—both in assessing impacts and in figuring out how to mitigate it. However, while intrepid blitzers did spend hours tromping through the driving rain, the goal of a complete baseline count was thwarted by the weather.

Participants: Jim Green and Jeff Smith (group organizers), Dave Yeager, Glenn Gabanski, Diann Bilderback, Bob Fisher, Liza Gray, Claudia Grimm, Susan Kaley, and Judy Pollock

Species of Concern Sighted
Grassland Birds Shrubland Birds
Henslow's Sparrow 9 Brown Thrasher 1
Bobolink 8 Willow Flycatcher 9
Eastern Meadowlark 19 Field Sparrow 16
Woodland & Savanna Birds Eastern Kingbird 13
Veery 2 Wetland Birds
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 Marsh Wren 4
Great Crested Flycatcher 2  
Northern Flicker 7
Wood Thrush 1

Lakewood Forest Preserve-McLean Habitat Restoration Area (Lake County)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bird species using this very large complex are not fully known as this area was previously farmed. A large restoration project that will restore approximately 700-acres of grassland, savanna, and wetland habitat got underway in 2008. Data collected during the blitz will provide land managers vital baseline data to track the progress and success of this restoration project. Understanding the bird life of all the parts of this preserve can help promote good decisions about land use.

Participants: Jim Dudas and Donnie Dann (group organizers), Paul Sweet, Beau Schaefer, Jackie Dann, Gerry Batsford, Carla Schmakel, Rena Cohen, Bonnie Duman, and Jeff Sanders

Species of Concern Sighted
Grassland Birds Shrubland Birds
Bobolink 2 Brown Thrasher 1
Woodland & Savanna Birds Willow Flycatcher 3
Great Crested Flycatcher 2 Field Sparrow 2
Northern Flicker 3 Orchard Oriole 1
  Wetland Birds
Marsh Wren 3
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Least Bittern 1
Sandhill Crane 2

Poplar Creek Forest Preserve (Cook County North)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Birders have known about the great grasslands at Poplar Creek-Schaumburg Road Grasslands for years. The Cook County Forest Preserve District has recently begun to rehabilitate them, and the Poplar Creek stewards, intrigued by the challenge, are beginning to start to restore prairie to these old hayfields. The Blitz was a joint effort by birders and stewards to identify both promising bird habitats and threats such as invasive weeds. Striking the right balance between grassland and shrubland will be easier at this site thanks to the blitz results.

Participants: Jenny Vogt and Lee Ramsey (group organizers), Jill Flexman, John Dalen, Margaret Mechtenberg, Gloria Dimoplon, Diane Benson, Cheryl Hayes, Jan Underwood, Ellie Shunas, Linda Gohlke, Sue Kaley, Barbara Meding, Karen Lund, Barbara Hill, Justin Pepper, John Navin, Alan Anderson, Teri Radke, Sandra Stearns, Joan Bruchman, Mary Lou Mellon, Diana Granitto, Leo Miller, Matt Hokanson, Duane Heaton, Kirk Garanflo, Steve Flexman, Connor Flexman, Mary Bernat, Joan Norek, and Sheila Hoyos

Species of Concern Sighted
Grassland Birds Shrubland Birds
Henslow's Sparrow 18 Black-billed Cuckoo 4
Grasshopper Sparrow 13 Brown Thrasher 10
Bobolink 11 Willow Flycatcher 25
Sedge Wren 1 Field Sparrow 122
Eastern Meadowlark 6 Orchard Oriole 2
Woodland & Savanna Birds Eastern Kingbird 17
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 10 Wetland Birds
Great Crested Flycatcher 7 Marsh Wren 2
Northern Flicker 31 Urban Birds
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 6 Chimney Swift 12
Wood Thrush 1  

See also Lee Ramsey's detailed Habitat Map of Birds of Concern at Poplar Creek.

Rush Creek Conservation Area- (McHenry County)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rush Creek Conservation Area is a large site with a variety of recreational and habitat values. The McHenry County Conservation District wants to know what birds are using the site to inform their restoration efforts there.

Participants: Doug Crane (group organizer), Maggie Crane, Randy Schietzelt, and Nancy Schietzelt

Species of Concern Sighted
Woodland & Savanna Birds Shrubland Birds
Great Crested Flycatcher 5 Brown Thrasher 1
Northern Flicker 2 Willow Flycatcher 2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5 Field Sparrow 21
Wood Thrush 5 Urban Birds
  Chimney Swift 1

Sauer Family Prairie-Kame Forest Preserve (Kane County)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This grassland site, recently restored by the Kane County Forest Preserve District, has had some fantastic sightings during migration, including a week-long visit from a group of Whooping Cranes. This district wanted data about what could be found there during the breeding season to help with their assessment of restoration results.

Participants: Ann Haverstock (group organizer), Judy Pollock, Matt Williamson, Jon Duerr, Julie Long, Terry Murray, Beau Schaefer, Judith Graber, and Linda Slavik

Species of Concern Sighted
Grassland Birds Shrubland Birds
Dickcissel 69 Willow Flycatcher 1
Grasshopper Sparrow 24 Field Sparrow 3
Eastern Meadowlark 9 Eastern Kingbird 1
Western Meadowlark 9 Wetland Birds
Vesper Sparrow 2 Marsh Wren 2