In some instances, bird monitors are seeing species for the first time ever. Recent annual bird surveys point to an increases in some grassland bird species while numbers of other species are steadier here than elsewhere.
In June, hundreds of visitors trekked to the Turtle Pond area on the northeast side of Midewin where a painted bunting was seen way off of its usual southerly course.
During one of the Midewin bird tours on the west side of Highway 53, volunteer bird monitor and bird-watching tour facilitator Greg Dubois, along with others, saw a rare black-billed cuckoo for the first time in his life.
Later in the month, DuBois and fellow Midewin volunteer bird monitor Fritz Bartels spotted a flock of 15 wood ducks – a mother and her 14 ducklings – swimming in a line in the water.
On June 10 to June 11 Midewin staff and volunteers conducted annual bird surveys on the Midewin with th eIllinois Audubon Society;Illinois Department of Natural Resources; andThe Nature Conservancy in Illinois.
Illinois Audubon Society Executive Director Dr. James Herkert said that numbers of dickcissels and Henslow’s sparrows have been increasing in recent years.
Numbers of bobolinks and grasshopper sparrows have remained stable on the Midewin, even though their numbers have not been as steady elsewhere.
He credits the bird-friendly habitats on the Midewin for why the birds are returning year after year.
Increasing desirable habitat for grassland birds is essential to the mission of the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
Above, Midewin volunteer bird monitors Greg DuBois and Fritz Bartels counted 14 ducklings with this mother wood duck as she guided her flock through the USDA Forest Service – Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in late June.