Carlyle Lake Pelagic, September 30

IOS is pleased to announce this year’s Carlyle Lake Pelagic Field Trip to be held, Saturday, September 30th, 2017. This trip includes the popular three-hour pelagic aboard comfortable pontoon boats.

Sabine's Gull by Barbara Williams

Sabine’s Gull by Barbara Williams

As in past years, we’ll meet at McDonald’s off IL 127 in Carlyle at 6:30 AM. This is a full-day field trip, ending around 7:30 PM. We’ll begin with a scan of the lake from Dam West Beach before heading to Eldon Hazlet State Park to search for migrant songbirds. We’ll bird the Hazlet area all morning before breaking for lunch. Lunch will be fast food or bring your own. We’ll gather at the Dam West picnic area where we’ll be able to search for more birds from the excellent shade provided.

After lunch, depending on water levels, we’ll search for shorebirds and waders.


The boat trip begins at 3:30 PM from Dam West Marina. The late afternoon/early evening hours can be excellent for feeding gulls, terns and others. We hope to find SABINE’S GULL which has eluded us on the past three field trips! It’s also possible to tally RED and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, EARED and PIED-BILLED GREBES, five or six Gull species and potentially any of the three JAEGER species!

Bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, mud boots and your hat.

Those planning on staying Saturday night may wish to join us for a group dinner at a nearby restaurant. Recommended hotels are available in Carlyle, Greenville, Salem and Vandalia.

There is a fee associated with this field trip to cover the costs of pontoon rental, gasoline, and other expenses. The fee is $35 for existing IOS members and $55 for non-IOS members. The $55 fee for non-members includes the field trip registration and a one-year IOS membership and benefits, including four issues of the Meadowlark, A Journal of Illinois Birds, a quarterly publication of IOS.

This field trip is limited to 45 participants with IOS members receiving first priority. Trip registration and payment shall be made through the Pay Pal feature on the IOS website, if at all possible. Registration will not be accepted without full payment in advance. The trip leader is not accepting payment or registrations. Persons not using the website and PayPal must promptly register by sending full payment to:

P.O. Box 931
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Note that the payment is for “Carlyle Pelagic” AND call or e-mail the trip leader to notify him that payment has been mailed.

This trip is very popular and will fill up fast. IOS will not make refunds but will allow substitutes if you sign up for the trip and cannot attend. It will be your responsibility to notify the trip leader of your substitute. If you cannot provide a substitute, the trip leader will take the 1st name on the waiting list.

If you have any questions about the trip, feel free to contact the trip leader, Keith McMullen or by phone +1-618-560-9450.

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IOS Shorebirding Weekend Recap

On August 19 and 20, more than fifty birders joined IOS for an excellent weekend of birding in central Illinois. The weather was perfect, the camaraderie even better, and birds were abundant.

Birders Gather for the Day by Tyler Funk

Birders Gather for the Day by Tyler Funk

Everyone gathered at the Holiday Inn Express in Pekin, home base for the weekend, on Saturday morning, to meet their field trip leaders – Colin Dobson, Josh Engel, Travis Mahan, and Andy Gilbert. Groups set out for Chauatauqua and Emiquon National Wildlife Refuges, both marquee shorebirding properties along the Illinois River.

Birders had the option of participating in mobile travelling groups or a “Big Sit” on the Chauatauqua crossdike. At the Big Sit, groups viewed the surrounding area from beneath the shade of a pop up canopy using Vortex Scopes provided by Eagle Optics.

The day got off to a quick start at the Chautauqua crossdike as hundreds of American White Pelicans loafed on the sandbars in all directions. Black Terns fluttered over the expanses of water. Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures soared overhead and a Blue Grosbeak sang nearby. Several species of waterfowl were observed including Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, and both Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal.

Scoping by Tyler Funk

Scoping by Tyler Funk

But, it was the shorebirds that stole the show. A Hudsonian Godwit foraged on a sandbar to the north of the crossdike. Black-necked Stilts, Black-bellied Plovers, Wilson’s Phalaropes, and Buff-breasted Sandpipers were also observed by the many people scoping in all directions.

Over at Emiquon North Globe, a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope swam in tight circles in the shallow water as Sedge Wrens chattered in the background.

As temperatures soared by midday, groups gathered at the Illinois State Museum at Dickson Mounds for lunch and raffle items, as Josh Engel displayed shorebird specimen skins on surrounding tables.

Andy Gilbert Presenting by Tyler Funk

Andy Gilbert Presenting by Tyler Funk

After lunch, attendees were treated to a series of presentations in the museum auditorium. IOS Grant Recipient, Andy Gilbert, spoke of his aerial waterfowl research along the Illinois River. Jake Cvetas gave an update on the status of Illinois Young Birders. Finally, Adam Sell promoted next year’s IOS special trip to Panama with Red Hill Birding.

Birders were able to mix with other field trip leaders in the afternoon as groups continued to turn up great birds. At Emiquon Preserve, two Least Bitterns hunted in the open with several Common Gallinules swimming in and out of view. Two Osprey sat atop a man made nest platform and a Snowy Egret foraged in the shallows.

Back at Chautauqua, two Willets were observed, making the day’s shorebird tally twenty one species.

After a long day of birding, most participants retired to the hotel with some gathering in Peoria for dinner.

On Sunday, we did it all again. Just before wrapping things up about noon, Adam Sell found perhaps the highlight of the weekend, a Ruff, at Emiquon South Globe. Soon, after sending a number of text messages and making a few phone calls, many birders converged on the levee to see this rare visitor from Eurasia. The Ruff was the 23rd shorebird and 121st species on a very special weekend.

Ruff by Matthew Cvetas

Ruff by Matthew Cvetas

Rare Bird Alert - 16-Sep-2017

Broad-billed Hummingbird by Pam Stanko

Broad-billed Hummingbird by Pam Stanko

Neotropic Cormorant: Cook (North) – On September 15th, Andrew Aldrich reported that a Neotropic Cormorant had returned to the breakwall at Rainbow Beach in Chicago, nearly one year to the date.

Magnificent Frigatebird: Will (North) – Also on September 15th, Melinda Chapman spotted an immature Magnificent Frigatebird flying over the Des Plaines River along the Centennial Bike Trail in Romeoville.

Broad-billed Hummingbird: Sangamon (Central) – Pam Stanko photographed the state’s third Broad-billed Hummingbird at her feeder in Springfield on September 11th. The bird left shortly after it was banded by Vern Kleen.

Tricolored Heron: Lake (North) – On September 6th, an adult Tricolored Heron flew over Krzysztof Kurylowicz at Middlefork Savannah in Lake Forest.

Magnificent Frigatebird: Lake (North) – A probable Magnificent Frigatebird was caught on video by Dian Chapman near Channel Lake on August 21st.

Anhinga: Jackson (South) – Kelly McKay and Danny Akers spotted two Anhingas near Grand Tower Island, where one or more have been on and off since June.

Listers Corner Update, 8-Sep-2017

First cycle Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides thayeri),formerly Thayer’s Gull by Matthew Cvetas

Since the American Ornithological Society (AOS) issued its 58th Supplement to its Check-list of North American Birds in which Thayer’s Gull was relegated to a subspecies of Iceland Gull, there have been a number of questions from the Illinois birding community about

Continue reading Listers Corner Update, 8-Sep-2017

Rare Bird Alert - 12-Aug-2017

Neotropic Cormornat by Ron Bradley

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck: Rock Island (North) – On August 7th, Steve Freed reported a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in the Zuma Creek Flats area of Rock Island County just southeast of the I-80 and I-88 interchange.

Wood Stork: Alexander (South) – A Wood Stork was photographed in flight at Sexton Creek Wetlands

Continue reading Rare Bird Alert – 12-Aug-2017

Dowitcher Identification in Illinois

DOWITCHER BASICS Dowitchers are large-bodied, short-legged migratory shorebirds with extremely long bills relative to body length. In general, dowitchers (including juveniles) have warm orangeish or reddish underparts from late spring through summer and early fall, molting to cold gray upperparts with whitish underparts from late fall through winter and early spring. All feed belly-deep in

Continue reading Dowitcher Identification in Illinois

2017 IOS Grants Awards

Abigail Blake-Bradshaw, Grant Recipient by Ryan Askren

One of IOS’s objectives is “To promote scientific research and education in order to improve knowledge and awareness of birds in Illinois”. The IOS Grants Program was initiated several years ago to support this objective with funding.

The 2017 IOS Grants Program received nine requests for

Continue reading 2017 IOS Grants Awards

Rare Bird Alert - 23-Jul-2017

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck: Carroll (North) – On 22-Jul-2017, Ethan and Cindy Brown found a Black-bellied Whistling-Duck along Army Depot Rd. near the entrance to the Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge in Carroll County.

Ruff: Mason (Central) – On 18-Jul-2017, Colin Dobson found a Ruff at the pool south of Chain

Continue reading Rare Bird Alert – 23-Jul-2017

Recent Taxonomy Updates to the Official Illinois State List of Birds

The American Ornithological Society (AOS) recently issued its 58th Supplement to its Check-list of North American Birds. Since the Illinois Ornithological Records Committee (IORC, a committee of the Illinois Ornithological Society) follows the AOS taxonomy in keeping the official Illinois State List of Birds, all relevant changes from the 58th supplement get reflected in the

Continue reading Recent Taxonomy Updates to the Official Illinois State List of Birds

Merlins Nesting In Illinois

Merlin Copulation by Eric Walters

Back on April 3, 2017, I was in a northeast Lake County area when I heard a loud, unusual bird chattering along with various birds and an Eastern Gray Squirrel running for cover. Suddenly, a Merlin came flying by, chasing after some prey. Over the next week, when checking

Continue reading Merlins Nesting In Illinois