Snake Road is a unique ecosystem in the Shawnee National Forest of southern Illinois that consists of towering limestone bluffs bordered by hardwood forest and buttonwood swamps. A narrow gravel road parallels the bluffs at their base. So many snakes cross the road on their way to and from their hibernaculums in the bluffs that the US Forest Service closes the road for two months in the spring and fall to protect the snakes from vehicles. The 2.5-mile closed section is open to foot traffic, and herpetologists and field herpers flock to the area to observe the phenomenon. Veterinarian, herpetologist and wildlife photographer Stephen Barten will share the whys, hows and thrills of the experience, which also includes bird and other animal sightings.
Every year, on average, land managers perform controlled burns across roughly 2,500 acres of Lake County Forest Preserves in order to reduce nonnative, invasive plants and encourage native growth. The district’s Leslie Berns will discuss the importance of prescribed burns for land management, the timing, how sites are chosen, and the impact on both plant and bird life.
The Puerto Rican Parrot is one of the world’s most endangered birds. The population has rebounded from just 13 in 1975 to over 600 today, thanks to a multi-agency effort that has included population analysis support from Lincoln Park Zoo scientists. Curator of Birds Sunny Nelson will tell the story and introduce us to two members of this special species, which is found in the wild only in Puerto Rico.
Space limited, member priority. Register (required) at.
Radar has become an important tool for tracking bird movements. Well-known local birder Geoff Williamson will explain how radar can detect birds, how scientists are using it, how birders can use it during migration to help determine ‘good’ birding days, where to find radar forecasts, and how to interpret the patterns displayed.
From American Golden-Plovers that migrate through central Illinois to thrushes and vireos that cross the Gulf of Mexico, migrating birds need a lot of TLC to get to their breeding grounds in North America. Illinois Natural History Survey’s Mike Ward, an ornithologist who also teaches at University of Illinois, will discuss his group’s studies of stopover ecology and efforts to promote safe passage for migrating birds.
River otters have returned to the Chicago area in 2015 after decades of absence caused by trapping, habitat destruction and poor water quality. Chris Anchor, senior wildlife biologist with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, will share the story of their discovery, the factors behind their return, and what the future holds for their survival locally.
Birding by the Big Lake
Spring Gathering 2019
hosted by Lake-Cook Chapter
Lake/Cook Chapter is hosting the 2019 Illinois Audubon Society Spring Gathering, which will draw IAS members from around the state. The weekend will feature Friday and Saturday night speakers, nearly 20 field trips, and a raffle and silent auction whose proceeds will support future chapter programs and initiatives.
On Friday night, local raptor photographer and enthusiast Vic Berardi will discuss why Lake County has two hawk watches just a short distance apart, what’s been seen at them, and his personal hawk watching highlights. On Saturday night, in keeping with the “Big Lake” theme of the weekend, David Ullrich, longtime director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, will provide insights into the past and present environmental challenges faced by the Great Lakes.
A full schedule of field trips and registration information will be available in January. Prior registration is required and opens January 1, 2019. Members and non-members are welcome.
Rails are among the most elusive birds in our area, usually hiding in dense marsh vegetation. Stephanie Beilke, an Audubon Great Lakes staffer who has been involved in monitoring marsh birds in Illinois and Indiana, will fill us in on the habits, population trends, and best places to find these secretive wetland dwellers in our area.
Members and non-members alike are invited to join us for our annual potluck dinner. This is a great opportunity to socialize, provide feedback on our year of programs and field trips. Also enjoy a sneak preview of what’s on tap for our Chapter’s 2019 – 2020 program & field trip year.
Bring a dish to share and personal bird stories to tell.
Not a cook? Store-bought is fine. Everything is welcome – small and large portions alike or bring a beverage.