Rare Bird Alert – 23-Feb-2017

California Gull: Lake (North) – Adam Sell observed a first-cycle CALIFORNIA GULL at Channel Lake in Lake County on February 23rd.

Mew Gull: DuPage (North) – Mike Madsen reported a 2nd cycle MEW GULL from the 83rd St. Fluddle at Greene Valley Forest Preserve in DuPage County on February 18th.

Rare Bird Alert - 13-Feb-2017

Gyrfalcon by Tim Lindenbaum

Gyrfalcon by Tim Lindenbaum

Gyrfalcon: McLean (Central) – On the morning of February 13th, a Gyrfalcon was photographed by Tim Lindenbaum on N 3100 East Rd south of E 2450 North Rd. in Colfax, McLean County. Interestingly, a Gyrfalcon was observed and photographed in the same area last year.

California Gull: Cook (North) – A continuing second cycle California Gull was observed February 12th on the Calumet River near Deadstick Pond in Chicago, Cook County by Amar Ayyash and several observers.

2017 IOS Gull Frolic Field Trip Report

Scoping Lake Michigan

Scoping Lake Michigan

IOS hosted the 16th annual Gull Frolic on Saturday, February 11th, at the Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club in the northeast corner of the state. As temperatures soared toward 50F degrees and without any ice for the gulls to rest on, despite our best efforts to chum them in, it quickly became apparent that gulls would be hard to come by on this day. Still, scoping Lake Michigan early in the morning, birders were treated to good views of a flyby Great Black-backed Gull, a handful of Long-tailed Ducks and about a dozen White-winged Scoters.

Jean Iron

Jean Iron

Back inside the yacht club, attendees listened intently as Jean Iron passionately told of her shorebird surveys on the vast mudflats and coastal marshes of James Bay. Jean’s presentation focused on her shorebird research and James Bay’s specialty birds, including rufa Red Knots and Akimiski Island Marbled Godwits that were surprisingly found to winter in the Baja California, Mexico. Wow!

In addition to Jean’s presentation, several exhibitors had interactive tables at the event. Attendees could examine specimens of shorebirds and gulls with the Field Museum’s Doug Stotz or learn about Josh Engel’s new tour company, featuring trips to South Africa or northern Minnesota.

Of course, the food was not to be missed. Volunteers, Janice Sweet and Karen Lund, served up pizza and salad and the specialty of the Gull Frolic, seagull stew.

During lunch, IOS President, Matthew Cvetas, recognized long time IOS members, Denis Bohm and Geoff Williamson, with custom framed artwork by young birders, Nandu Dubey and Luke Haberkorn. Denis received a striking Yellow-headed Blackbird by Nandu and Geoff, a painting of Rufous Hummingbirds by Luke.

Gulling typically picks up after lunch and this year was no exception. Despite there being only about 100 gulls present, birders were still able to spot 2 Thayer’s Gulls and a Iceland (Kumlien’s) Gull in the feeding flock at close range. Many were able to obtain great photos of these white-wingers.

IOS would like to thank Amar Ayyash, Jean Iron, all our exhibitors, and volunteers for helping us put on another successful Frolic.

Join us next year for the premier gull watching event in the United States.


Common Loon

Join us for our annual LOONAPALOONZA with veteran “Loon Ranger,” David B. Johnson, as we travel in style on a mini-coach bus in search of migrating loons on the glacial lakes of Lake and McHenry Counties. Fee is $30/person. Space is limited to 24 participants.


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Rare Bird Alert – 4-Feb-2017

California Gull by Andrew Aldrich

California Gull: Cook (North) – On February 4th, a second cycle California Gull was photographed by Andrew Aldrich at Deadstick Pond in Chicago, Cook County.

Refinding the Painted Bunting

By Aaron Gyllenhaal, as told to Ted Wolff

The first thing I saw was a bird flying over me with a bright red belly. I got my binoculars on it and saw it land. The next thing I saw was a blue head and a green back, which is when I freaked out.

I went

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IORC Update – 31 Jan 2017

The Illinois Ornithological Records Committee (IORC) recently concluded evaluation of 23 records of occurrence of rare birds in Illinois, accepting 20 and not accepting three. For each record, we indicate the species or form, with number of individuals in parentheses if greater than one, followed by date or date range, location, and county. At the

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An Interview with Andy Stewart by Beau Schaefer

Lake County Big Year record holder, Andy Stewart

Beau: So tell us a little bit about who “Andy Stewart” is. Andy: Well, I grew up in Texas and have always been interested in natural history. Collecting has also always been an interest of mine. I have a sort of “hoarding gene” if you will.

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Rare Bird Alert – 21-Jan-2017

Prairie Falcon: Sangamon (Central) – On January 21st, a Prairie Falcon was observed Colin Dobson at Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary near Laomi in Sangamon County.

California Gull by Colin Dobson

California Gull: Peoria (Central) – On January 15, a first cycle California Gull was photographed by Colin Dobson at RiverPlex along Peoria Lake in Peoria

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Download the New IOS Field Checklist

The 5th Edition of the IOS Field Checklist of Illinois Birds is now available. Download the checklist now!