IOS Spring Birding Weekend — May 15–17, 2015


Galena / Northwestern Illinois

Nesting warblers at Mississippi Palisades and other breeding birds with southern affinities at Lost Mound N.W.R. are just a few of the reasons to join us at this year’s spring birding weekend.  Songbird migration should still be in full swing in the scenic hills of the driftless area of northwestern Illinois, and the wetlands along the Mississippi River always hold a few surprises.

We will be stationed at the Chestnut Mountain resort, located on a wooded bluff a few miles outside Galena with a commanding view over the river valley below.  Birding should be good even on the resort grounds!

After the Saturday evening banquet dinner, a couple of IOS grant recipients will update us on their research.

Details on the field trips are being finalized, and all registration information will be posted here on the IOS website.  The registration fee of $60.00 for IOS members will include the banquet dinner and a donation to the Stewards of Lost Mound.  Any surplus will go into the IOS grants program.  Direct all questions to Urs Geiser (630-310-9443, or Bob Fisher (630-985-2956,

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IOS Central Illinois Field Trip 4/18/2015

20140417_0638April 18th, 2015

Leader:  Tyler Funk

We will start our field trip at 7:00 AM at the Douglas Hart Nature Center in Mattoon where woodland, grassland, and wetland habitats offer a good diversity within a small area.  Target birds will include waterfowl, early migrant passerines, shorebirds, and a walk around the wetlands for rails.  Sora and Virginia Rail frequent this marsh, and the habitat is often suitable for Yellow Rail.

Depending on scouting reports for Smith’s Longspurs and American Golden Plover, our route may vary, but our next destination will be the Larry D. Closson Habitat Area (A.K.A. Hickory Ridge).  This site is just east of Oakland, Illinois along 1975E and 70N in Douglas County.  Target species here include grassland sparrows, raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, and rails.  Sora is, at times, abundant here and Virginia Rail has been found here each year since I started checking this sight.  As with Douglas Hart Nature Center, the habitat here also contains some areas that could be good for Yellow Rail.  Hazards at this site include tall grass and marsh habitat.

Our next stop will be Arcola Marsh.  This site is an old landfill that has sat idle since the mid 1970s.  It is located near the intersection of Route 45 and 1900N in Douglas County.  This site has been a good holding spot for lingering waterfowl, shorebirds, rails, American Bittern, and a variety of passerines.  Hazards here include tall grass, rocky footing, and groundhog holes.

We will likely stop in Arcola for lunch around noon.  Eurasian Collared-Doves frequent this community, and if we have not seen one prior to lunch, we will look for this species before leaving town.  Arcola has Subway, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, and some local restaurants in the downtown area if you’re looking for something other than fast food.

From Arcola I plan to hit pre-scouted areas along the Kaskaskia River for Rusty Blackbird flocks.  We will not linger long in these areas.  The remainder of the afternoon will be spent around Lake Shelbyville looking for shorebirds, waterfowl, grebes, rails, and other passerines.  Mudflats, marsh habitats, and areas of tall grass may be encountered)

Meet at 6:45 AM at the Mattoon, Illinois McDonalds.  From the northbound I-57 take exit 190B and McDonalds is ½ mile on the south side of the road.  From the southbound I-57 take exit 190B.

Most of the areas we will be hiking have fairly level terrain.  I estimate that we will walk somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 miles for the day.  Walking through tall grass, marsh habitat, and uneven rocky surfaces may present challenges in isolated areas.  Knee high, waterproof boots would be a good option in some areas.  County roads in the area can be muddy or dusty, but I will be sure to keep you on decent roads.  Spotting scopes, cameras, binoculars, snacks, water, and if you have one, a 2-way radio would be suggested equipment.  As is the case in all of Illinois, the weather can be unpredictable, so keep an eye on forecasted conditions and dress accordingly.  All of the areas we will be visiting have a fair number of ticks. Bug spray is always recommended.

WE Need Your Help to Fund the 2015 Grant Requests!!

A total of 10 Grant Requests have been received.

Grant awards will be announced April 15th. Some funds have already been received but more contributions are needed so more of the grants can be funded. Any organization or individual may fund all or part of a Grant. Donations can be for any amount. Donors/sponsors will be recognized on the IOS web site.

Funding for the 2015 IOS grants can be provided via PayPal (using either PayPal account or bank card).

Or you can send your check made out to IOS to:


Attention: Denis Bohm

PO Box 931

Lake Forest, IL 60045

IOS field notes compiler featured in

Meadowlark editor Sheryl DeVore wrote an article about Field Notes compiler David B. Johnson and his 25 years of leading looney trips in Lake and McHenry Counties for the Chicago Tribune and News-Sun. Take a peek. Dave needs to be praised over and over for all the wonderful work he has done on behalf

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Rusty Blackbird Blitz, Year two

We’re gearing up for the second year of the Blitz. Nick Sly, IOS Coordinator for the Blitz, posted complete details here on the Illinois Birders Forum website. IOS is proud to be a sponsor of this important project here in Illinois. Mark your calendar and make your plans to get out there between March

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Cerulean Warbler gets help from major grant

A five-year project targeting conservation of the imperiled and iconic Cerulean Warbler and focusing on the states of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, and West Virginia got a big boost following the granting of $8 million in funding from the Dept. of Agriculture’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Read more about this exciting project that

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Amar Ayyash: A Birder You Should Know

Amar Ayyash is the man behind the IOS Annual Gull Frolic, which he organized this year and persuaded Birding editor and author Ted Floyd to speak. As you likely know, Amar is “crazy” about gulls, and indeed very knowledgeable about this difficult-to-identify group of birds. In honor of the upcoming Gull Frolic, we

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Jeff Sanders featured in Chicago Tribune article

For at least three days in December and early January over the past 50 years, Jeff Sanders has gone outside in the predawn cold to count birds in and around Chicago.

In 2015, Sanders will celebrate a half-century since he began helping with the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, just a few miles

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Trip Report: Carlyle Lake Pelagic

September 27, 2014

43 birders participated in the annual IOS Carlyle Lake field trip that was held on September 27. The day started very well as a visit to the Dam West Beach just after sunrise yielded a beach full of gulls, mainly Ring-billed, but with a few Franklin’s Gulls sprinkled in as

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14th Annual Gull Frolic

14th Annual Gull Frolic February 14, 2015

Start Time – 9:30 a.m. (please note the later start time).

The Gull Frolic is a unique winter event at Illinois’ premier gull-watching hotspot: North Point Marina. Bring your binoculars, scope and cold weather gear, and join birders outside of the yacht club to enjoy close

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