17th Annual Gull Frolic

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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 & Red Hill Birding Trip to Panama

It is with great excitement that IOS announces an international trip to the tropical forests of Panama!  IOS will be traveling down to Panama June 26th – July 5th, 2018 (Click Here for Itinerary).  IOS is partnering with Josh Engel and his new tour company, Red Hill Birding, for what is going to be a trip that delights birders whether it’s your first trip to the tropics or your tenth (Register here).  

Male Blue Cotinga, courtesy of the Canopy Family

We will be staying in the Canopy Family’s now famous eco-lodges, the Canopy Tower in the central lowlands, and the Canopy Lodge in the foothills of El Valle de Antón.  Due to the varied habitats we will visit, 260+ species can be expected, including members of some the most dynamic Neotropical families, like motmots, puffbirds, manakins, cotingas, antbirds, toucans, and many, many more!  Oh, and over 20 species of hummingbird are possible!  

Brown-throated Three-toed Sloth from the Canopy Tower! Photo by Doug Weschler, courtesy of the Canopy Family

A post-trip extension (July 5th – July 11th, 2018) will have us traveling to the Canopy Camp, the Canopy Family’s newest location in the heart of Eastern Panama’s Darién Province!  Here, we will enjoy a new host of birds, including many that are endemic to Panama or the Chocó biological region.  It is at the Canopy Camp where we have the greatest chance of seeing a Harpy Eagle.  We will devote an entire day to searching for Panama’s national bird!  

Adult Harpy Eagle in the heart of the Darién. Photo by Ewe Speck, courtesy of the Canopy Family

This is an exclusive IOS members trip, and we look forward to seeing many of you in wonderful Panama next summer!  

See the full itinerary, cost, and trip details HERE.

If you would like to register for the trip or have any other questions, you may contact Red Hill Birding and register HERE.

IOS Shorebirding Weekend, August 19th - 20th

Kevin T. Karlson is an accomplished birder, professional tour leader, speaker and wildlife photographer who has published numerous articles on bird identification and natural history for an assortment of magazines, journals, calendars and electronic media. Kevin is a co-author of The Shorebird Guide (Houghton Mifflin Co. 2006) and has completed a new book with co-author and wife Dale Rosselet for the Roger Tory Peterson Reference series at Houghton Mifflin Co. called Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds (April 2015 release date). He completed a Shorebird ID App in 2013 for Birdzilla.com called Shorebirds of the United States and Canada, which is available in the Apple Store. Kevin has produced four laminated ID foldout guides for Quick Reference Publishing (Raptors of Eastern and Western North America; Waterfowl of North America; Shorebirds of North America and Warblers of North America).

Where: Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, Emiquon and surrounding areas.

  • Kevin Karlson will be the guest speaker for the weekend. Kevin will be hosting two presentations at the Dixon Mounds State Museum on Saturday evening for all those attending.
  • Shorebird skin samples from the Chicago Field Museum will be available at the Dixon Mounds State Museum for members to view while attending lectures.
  • Lunch will be provided at the Dickson Mounds State Museum on Saturday August 20th. During this time, take a moment to enjoy the artifacts and information at this excellent museum.
  • Field trips will be available all day Saturday, August 19th, and the morning of Sunday, August 20th. Local experts will be conducting field trips at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, Emiquon and surrounding areas. Kevin Karlson will be participating in a few of the field trips which will be provided. More information will be forthcoming.
  • Lodging for this event will be at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Pekin. You may book your rooms for the 18th and 19th using room block code, IOF. Field trips will start early in the day, so it may be necessary to book rooms for both Friday and Saturday evening. Registration will be at the hotel on Friday evening.
  • Raffle Prizes, including Kevin Karlson autographed books, Eagle Optics T-shirts and more!
  • Eagle Optics is providing three Vortex Spotting Scopes in different price ranges for IOS members to sample.
  • 25th Anniversary IOS T-shirt will be available for purchase to commemorate the weekend.

Weekend Agenda:

August 18th:

Check-in and registration at the Holiday Inn Express in Pekin, Illinois. Participants will receive name tags, field trip schedule, field trip leader contact information, raffle tickets, and area maps highlighting field trip routes for their respective group. IOS 25th Anniversary T-shirts will be distributed and available at this time.

August 19th:

Tentative plan. Holiday Inn begins free breakfast service at 6:00am. Hotel manager stated that most breakfast items start being available shortly after 5:30am.

6:45am Field trip groups will leave for the designated field trips.

*note: Field Trip plans are still being arranged for this weekend. Stay tuned for further information! A big sit will be incorporated into the weekend schedule for any that might be interested in such an event. This would likely take place along the cross dike at Chautauqua. Spotting Scopes provided by Eagle Optics will also be set up here for any interested in using them and sampling some available scopes which Eagle Optics sells. Kevin Karlson will be participating in the scheduled field trips. We will attempt to move him through the group rotations so all have a chance to visit and do some bird watching with him!

12:00pm Participants will meet at Dickson Mounds State Museum for complimentary Lunch. (Cold cut sandwiches, chips, water and cookie)

12:30pm Kevin Karlson will give an amazing pictorial presentation in the Auditorium.

1:30pm Groups will depart the Museum for afternoon field trips

5:30pm Participants will return to the Museum for another great presentation from Kevin Karlson concerning Shore bird identification. Shorebird skin samples will be on display, which will give you an opportunity to compare some unique species to those we encounter on a more frequent basis. Raffle prizes will be drawn at this time.

6:30pm One of three options: 1. The museum is hosting a musical night and musicians will be playing for anyone in attendance. 2. Return to Holiday inn Express for the evening. 3. Continue birding in the evening either separately or with an informal group. In Pekin, there is an Applebee’s Restaurant near the hotel, which would be a good venue for an evening drink and socialization.

August 20th:

Breakfast schedule same as for Saturday August 19th.

6:45am Field Trips will continue through the first half of the day. Participants and field trip leaders will continue or disband at their discretion. *schedules are still being completed.

Registration is now closed.

LODGING: Rooms have been blocked out at the Pekin Holiday Inn Express, 3615 Kelly Ave, Pekin, IL 61554.

Use discount code IOF (that’s not a typo, it’s IOF), for the special rate of $120/night.


Common Loon

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.


16th Annual Gull Frolic

February 11, 2017

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 study of some of our harder-to-find winter species such as Thayer’s, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls!  A variety of waterfowl typically make an appearance too (scoters and other diving ducks), along with the occasional raptor, owl, or winter finch. Birders wearing bright orange hats will be available to help answer questions along the “boardwalk”.


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