Oaks are a keystone species critical to ecosystem health including bird survival, but the Chicago region’s oak trees have suffered massive declines both in savanna ecosystems and on residential streets. The Oak Ecosystem Recovery Plan is a region-wide effort by government agencies, nonprofit organizations and volunteers to conserve oaks, protect them from growing pressures, and restore their ecosystems. Brandon Hayes, coordinator of the plan’s working group and founder/principal at Bold Bison Communications and Consulting, will join us to discuss why oaks have disappeared from the landscape, why they are important for birds, the details of the recovery plan, and how homeowners and community members can get involved.
The Black Tern is one of the most rapidly declining wetland birds in the Great Lakes region. Breeding populations have likely been completely lost in Indiana and Ohio, and this species is on the brink in Illinois.
Stephanie Beilke, Senior Manager, Conservation Science for Audubon Great Lakes, will discuss efforts to restore breeding populations in the region, including monitoring work at the largest regional colony in St. Clair Flats, Michigan, and examine what we’ve learned about the threats this species faces. In addition, she will explore recent results from a tracking study that was the first to chart the migratory journeys of juvenile Black Terns.
(Note earlier start time: 6:30 PM)
Warblers are the stars of the show in spring with their gaudy colors and unique patterns (just a few of the nearly 30 species that show up in Chicago are featured here) yet views are often brief as they flit high in the canopy or behind dense foliage so it is helpful to know behavior, habitat and song as well as plumage.
Local birder and Red Hill Birding guide Adam Sell will help beginners develop these skills, followed by a walk outside at dusk to see American Woodcocks display. (Bring binoculars!)
On May 4, you can test your newfound warbler knowledge on an Adam-led beginners bird walk at Lyons Woods.
In 2020 Bill Volkert, a longtime Wisconsin DNR naturalist at Horicon Marsh, published his book Journey of a Thousand Lifers documenting the 55,000-mile, eight-month birding and wildlife journey that he and his wife Connie took through 12 countries from southern Africa to India and Southeast Asia. In the process, they sighted more than 1,300 species of birds and over a thousand lifers, taking some 35,000 pictures along the way.
Volkert joins us from his home in Wisconsin to tell the tale.
Black-crowned Night Herons (BCNH) are endangered in Illinois and six other Great Lakes region states. Yet a breeding colony of these herons has thrived in Chicago’s Lincoln Park since 2007. Since their arrival, they have garnered significant conservation attention from various groups including the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute (UWI), whose researchers began monitoring the population in 2010.
Henry Adams, UWI’s Wildlife Management Coordinator, will discuss the history of the colony, including productivity trends, breeding phenology, and colony movement within Lincoln Park over the years. He will also explain plans for researching the herons’ movement, resource selection, and health in collaboration with Illinois Department of Natural Resources and University of Illinois Urbana Champaign to further conservation management planning for this endangered species.