Bird Conservation

This morning I conducted one of the two Breeding Bird Surveys for which I volunteer each year. The Mill Creek BBS begins in Ogle County, about 3-4 miles S of the Montague/Pecatonica Road intersection, on Water Road, and proceeds generally west along Lightsville Road, Coffman Road, and does a little zigging and zagging into Carroll County, where it ends immediately N of Shannon. This is one of the original BBS routes in IL. I inherited it from Lee Johnson.

In past years, this route had a lot of hay fields and CRP land, so the mid-June survey normally has Bobolinks, Dickcissels, Savannah & Grasshopper Sparrows, and, occasionally, Upland Sandpipers. The impact of early mowing has always had a negative impact on the birds in hay fields. Sometimes, if I run the route a week earlier, I find a lot of Bobolinks, but I know that their nests are almost certainly destined to fail because the hay is cut in mid-June. Same with the Upland Sandpipers. What is increasingly apparent on this route is that a lot of hay and CRP is gone and replaced by corn, soybeans and wheat. I did not see or hear a Bobolink anywhere along the 24.5 miles of my survey route this morning, and I only found 1 Dickcissel. I did manage to hear an Upland Sandpiper calling from beyond a ridge line.

Contrast that result to a CRP patch that is located on the route tomorrow west of Pecatonica-I saw and heard 6 Dickcissels right along the road as I cruised by later this morning as I scouted that stretch to look for flooded areas, etc.

Happy Solstice!

Calling all area birders!! We are looking for information on 14 species of birds that are of special conservation concern yet found in our area. These birds are:

  1. Bell's Vireo
  2. Bobolink
  3. Dickcissel
  4. Henslow's Sparrow
  5. Red-headed Woodpecker
  6. Sedge Wren
  7. Blue-winged Warbler
  8. Cerulean Warbler
  9. Golden-winged Warbler
  10. Hooded Warbler
  11. Kentucky Warbler
  12. Prothonotary Warbler
  13. Whip-poor-will
  14. Wood Thrush

We have created an easy-to-use sheet (PDF) you can download and print to fill out records of these birds. Alternatively, you can email Eddie Callaway ( your sightings {date, location, species, count} and they will be recorded.

The goal is to get data of these birds in Winnebago, Boone, Stephenson, Ogle, and DeKalb counties with the focus on Winnebago.

So please get the Conservation Project Form and get ready for migration!!

Updates will be made periodically about how the project is going. A completed report will be presented at the NCIOS meeting in October.

By knowing where these birds are in our area, we can hopefully influence increased habitat for these wonderful yet declining birds.