Bird Blitz 2011: Spring Creek

Jenny Vogt and Lee Ramsey, Blitz coordinators

For the blitz, we divided Spring Creek Forest Preserve into 40 units, sub-divided into 270 single habitat sub-units. The total acreage of the preserve is slightly over 3900 acres. Approximately 1250 acres of this are forest (i.e., reforestation and unassociated woody growth); 475 acres are oak woodland (mostly overgrown); 775 acres are shrubland (almost exclusively buckthorn, honeysuckle and gray dogwood); 850 acres is grassland (including large restored and managed areas); and 550 acres are wetlands (lakes, marshes, sedge meadows). The first teams went out on surveys on June 5, the last on June 24.

Some general observations

The returns on nesting birds of concern (BOC) seem to indicate that shrublands were the most productive and wetlands the least productive. The only BOC not found in the shrublands was Bell's vireo, a species quite rare in our area. Vesper sparrow, found by only one team, doesn't have good nesting habitat at Spring Creek. A single yellow-breasted chat was a disappointment because this species does nest in our area in small numbers. The numbers of black-billed cuckoos (with confirmed nesting behavior), willow flycatchers and blue-winged warblers met or exceeded expectations.

Photo by Lee Ramsey

Similarly, the numbers of forest BOCs were encouraging, especially yellow-billed cuckoos. Those not encountered – whip-poor-will, cerulean warbler and prothonotary warbler – were probably not to be expected. The habitat for red-headed woodpecker, once fairly common in Spring Creek, has since disappeared except in one small area on the edge of the preserve; during the blitz period one red-headed woodpecker was seen at a feeder on private property near this area.

Grassland returns of BOCs, especially in managed areas, were very good, though this is not a surprise to those who bird Spring Creek regularly. Those that weren't reported weren't to be expected. The preserve lacks habitat for western meadowlark; nesting harriers, Swainson's hawks and short-eared owls are found only in isolated spots in our area. Sedge wrens are probably more abundant in the preserve than our numbers show because this species increases here in late June and July – mostly after the blitz was completed.

The greatest disappointment, of course, was wetland birds. Spring Creek has abundant wetlands, and although these are overrun with cattails, common reed and reed canary grass, we had hoped to find more than we did. Serious attempts to find rails produced nothing. Numbers of black-crowned night-herons were surprisingly low. Marsh wrens, which like cattails, were present in decent numbers. And, of course, most satisfying was the evidence of nesting sandhill cranes (not strictly a wetland species).

Also satisfying was the dozen or so unexpected birds reported: red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, Acadian flycatcher, mourning warbler, Kentucky warbler, hooded warbler, northern parula, clay-colored sparrow, lark sparrow, summer tanager, blue grosbeak and others.

(You may wish to download this report suitable for printing.)


Habitat Species Units reporting this species
(of 40 total units)
Forest Yellow-billed Cuckoo 9
Eastern Whip-poor-will  
Chimney Swift 16
Red-headed Woodpecker  
Northern Flicker 13
Great Crested Flycatcher 27
Veery 3
Wood Thrush 9
Cerulean Warbler  
Prothonotary Warbler  
Rose-breasted Grosbeak 19
Shrubland Black-billed Cuckoo 7
Willow Flycatcher 11
Eastern Kingbird 19
Bell's Vireo  
Brown Thrasher 11
Blue-winged Warbler 6
Yellow-breasted Chat 1
Field Sparrow 28
Vesper Sparrow 7
Orchard Oriole 1
Grassland Northern Harrier  
Swainson's Hawk  
Short-eared Owl  
Sedge Wren 1
Grasshopper Sparrow 7
Henslow's Sparrow 6
Dickcissel 4
Bobolink 8
Eastern Meadowlark 6
Western Meadowlark  
Wetland American Bittern  
Least Bittern  
Snowy Egret  
Little Blue Heron  
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Peregrine Falcon  
King Rail  
Common Moorhen  
Sandhill Crane 5
Marsh Wren 6
Yellow-headed Blackbird  


Canada Goose103House Wren111
Wood Duck65Sedge Wren2
Mallard56Marsh Wren16
Pied-billed Grebe1Blue-gray Gnatcatcher58
Double-crested Cormorant35Eastern Bluebird27
Great Blue Heron34Veery5
Great Egret20Wood Thrush17
Green Heron19American Robin255
Black-crowned Night-Heron1Gray Catbird137
Turkey Vulture12Brown Thrasher21
Cooper's Hawk3European Starling73
Red-shouldered Hawk1Cedar Waxwing182
Broad-winged Hawk1Ovenbird4
Red-tailed Hawk18Blue-winged Warbler9
Sandhill Crane7Mourning Warbler1
Killdeer7Kentucky Warbler1
Ring-billed Gull3Common Yellowthroat240
Rock Pigeon2Hooded Warbler1
Mourning Dove12American Redstart5
Yellow-billed Cuckoo25Northern Parula1
Black-billed Cuckoo11Yellow Warbler66
Great Horned Owl2Yellow-breasted Chat1
Chimney Swift43Eastern Towhee90
Ruby-throated Hummingbird2Chipping Sparrow11
Belted Kingfisher5Clay-colored Sparrow1
Red-bellied Woodpecker51Field Sparrow191
Downy Woodpecker56Vesper Sparrow1
Hairy Woodpecker18Lark Sparrow1
Northern Flicker19Savannah Sparrow78
Eastern Wood-Pewee86Grasshopper Sparrow56
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher1Henslow's Sparrow33
Acadian Flycatcher1Song Sparrow299
Alder Flycatcher1Swamp Sparrow71
Willow Flycatcher43Summer Tanager1
Eastern Phoebe7Scarlet Tanager32
Great Crested Flycatcher67Northern Cardinal172
Eastern Kingbird58Rose-breasted Grosbeak54
Yellow-throated Vireo6Blue Grosbeak1
Warbling Vireo17Indigo Bunting260
Red-eyed Vireo87Dickcissel75
Blue Jay252Bobolink100
American Crow54Red-winged Blackbird1107
Northern Rough-winged Swallow12Eastern Meadowlark35
Purple Martin2Common Grackle76
Tree Swallow125Brown-headed Cowbird241
Bank Swallow3Orchard Oriole11
Barn Swallow114Baltimore Oriole75
Cliff Swallow1House Finch6
Black-capped Chickadee174American Goldfinch233
White-breasted Nuthatch14  


Habitat Invasive plant Units reporting this species
(of 32)
Grassland Pastinaca sativa (Wild Parsnip) 24
Coronilla varia (Crown Vetch) 7
Euphorbia esula (Leafy Spurge) 2
Melilotus sp. (Sweet Clover) 16
Berberis thungergii (Japanese Barberry) 6
Forest Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental Bittersweet) 19
Allaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard) 17
Berberis thungergii (Japanese Barberry) 11
Forest or wetland Phalaris arundinacea (Reed Canary Grass) 25
Wetland Lythrum salicaris (Purple Loosestrife) 1
Phragmites australis (Common Reed) 9
Typhas sp. (Cattail) 17
Teams in units B8 and E1 said the Oriental Bittersweet in their areas needed immediate attention. This is true in other areas as well. The E13 team called for immediately attacking Crown Vetch there. It has also spread widely in unit E12 but has received some attention there since June



Among the invasives, two teams (E8 & D3) reported Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) and two others (A1 & D1) reported Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis). The team in unit A1 also reported Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense); the C3 team noted extensive stands of bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and brome (Bromus sp.); the C2 team found stands of Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca); and the D4 team reported Field Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitoeum), Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) and Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans). Several teams noted stands of Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia); other problem trees reported were Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina) in B8, Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) in C5, Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera) in D4, and European Alder (Alnus glutinosa) well established in E7. Many of these exist in other units as well though not reported. An example of this is European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), which only a few teams reported but which forms dense thickets in almost every Spring Creek unit.

On a more positive note, two teams reported stands of Great Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea). The canoe team in A2 reported several desirable species, including White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata), Spatterdock (Nuphar polysepala), and (possibly) a native Phragmites.


Finally: the people and organizations who contributed to the Spring Creek Blitz — Thanks!

Linda AdairPat HayesBeau Schaefer
Alan AndersonBrook Herman, USACELynda Schewe
Bobbi AsherMatt HokansonTerry Schilling
Barrington Hills Police Dept.Roger HothamMarilyn Schmidling
Marilyn BellJennifer HoveyAdam Sell
Tara BeverothDavid B. JohnsonSteve Sentoff
Katie Boldt & Barry FriptTom KellyEllie Shunas
Joan BruchmanErin KocourekRobbie Sliwinski, USACE
Sam BurckhardtBill Koenig, FPDCCRobert Sliwinski
Steve ByersJohn LeonardMeryl Squires, Horizon Farms
Cabela'sJosh LongVicky Sroczynski
Virginia CarterJulie LongFrank Sterrett
Tony CelisJohn C. MartinCraig Stettner
Louis 'Skip' ClarizioRick McAndlessDavid Stettner
Jane ClementFred McMorrisNathan Stettner
Rena CohenMargaret MechtenbergNancy Tikalsky
Dave CookMary Lou MellonGinger Underwood
Cook County FP PoliceMargo MildeTom Vanderpoel, CFC
Leslie CoolidgePatsy Mortimer, FCWPJanis Wesley
Christy & Brian CresseyJeanne MuellnerChuck Westcott
John DalenJohn NavinKyle Wiktor
Donnie DannMichael Olsen, SearsDolph Williams
Sue ElstonStephen PackardChristine Williamson
Donna Ewing, HARPSLinda PaderaGeoff Williamson
Jo FessettSue PageNancy Williamson
Bob FisherWendy PaulsonKaren Yancey, BACTrust
Jill FlexmanJustin PepperJerry Zamirowski
Steve FlexmanKathy PersykJody Zamirowski
Glenn GabanskiJudy Pollock&bbsp;
Sulli GibsonTeri RadkeOrganizers:
Karen GlennemeierDick RinerLee Ramsey
Linda GohlkeJohn RognerJenny Vogt
Katherine GroverKaren Rosene