Saturday, March 19, 2016 - 9:00am

Our eleventh biennial Birding America symposium will take place on Saturday, March 19, at North Park University in Chicago. This exciting all-day event will be filled with an amazing array of programs presented by experts who will cover topics ranging from local, to national, to international birding areas. You do not need to be a member of Chicago Audubon to attend, and birders of all levels are encouraged to sign up for this exciting collection of programs. 

To register for this event online using a credit card, click here (this online registration form includes the same complete list of speakers and their topics as shown below). (To download and print out a map of the North Park University campus and driving directions, click here.) If you prefer to pay by check, you can download a printable registration form to fill out and send in by clicking here. Our mailing address is on the form. Please note that the printable form asks for your choices of sessions that you are most likely to attend. Please refer to the list of sessions below to make your choices on the printed form, and then circle them on the printed form. This will help us plan room assignments for each session. Also, on the printed form, if you would like to order lunch ($10), please be sure to indicate your choice of sandwich. Thank you for your assistance.

A third option for registering is to call our office (773-539-6793) and give the Office Administrator your card information over the phone. Before calling, please be sure to have made your choice of sessions you are most likely to attend (and choice of sandwich).

Birding America Vendor Tables:  If you would like to display information about your organization and its purpose at this all-day symposium, we can supply 6-foot folding tables and two chairs per table in the most heavily trafficked area near the central registration/sign-in arena. The charge is $50 per table for non-profit organizations and $100 per table for profit-making organizations. We welcome the full range of possibilities for these displays, whether you represent an organization, or are a photographer, or a gardener, or many other possibilities. This will be a great opportunity to reach out to people who are deeply concerned with birds, wildlife, the environment and all other issues concerning ecology. For further details and to answer any questions, please call our office at 773-539-6793. If you reach voice mail, please leave your contact information.

Schedule of Sessions for Birding America XI:

8:15-9:00 a.m. - Refreshments and Sign-in for Pre-registered and for Walk-in Registration.

9:00 a.m. 

--Keynote Speaker (In Lecture Hall Auditorium):  Kevin McGowan, Ph.D., Project Manager, Distance Learning Bird Biology of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, will present Social Behavior of Birds. To Know the Crow: Surprising Findings from Over a Quarter Century of Studying Crows.

10:15 a.m.

a)  Beau Schaefer, Avid Lake County Lister, Big Day Birder, Biology Teacher:  Birding the Chain O Lakes State Park, Lake County, Illinois.

b)  Wendy Paulson, Birder, Conservationist, Teacher:  Birding Central Park, New York City.

c)  Peter Kasper, Bird Site Monitor, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Physicist:  Birds of Australia.

d)  Sheryl DeVore, Chicago Audubon Board Member and author Birds of Illinois:  Bird Song Primer: Why Birds Sing and How to Recognize Their Melodies and Calls.

11:15 a.m.

e)  Doug Stotz, Senior Conservation Ecologist, Bird Division, Field Museum:  Birding the Hennepin Wetlands and Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge of Illinois.

f)  Sam Burckhardt, Chicago Ornithological Society:  Birding Eastern Michigan; Kirtland’s Warbler nesting areas.

g)  Glyn Dawson, Biochemistry and  Molecular Biology, University of Chicago:  Top Birding Spots in the UK.

h)  Kevin McGowan:  A talk about birds in New York State—A Dynamic History of the Birds of New York, looking at the change in bird distributions over the last 200 years, including the dramatic changes described in his book, The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of New York State.

1:00 p.m.

i)  Bob Fisher and Vicky Sroczynski, Bird Conservation Network, and DuPage Birding Club:  Waterfall Glen and Greene Valley, Two Bird Diversity Hot Spots of DuPage County, Illinois.

j)  Vince Cavalieri, Biologist, US Fish & Wildlife:  The Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Project.

k)  Mary Lou Mellon, Past President, Bird Conservation Network:  Birding the Seychelles Islands, a Tropical Paradise in the Indian Ocean.

l)  Amar Ayyash, Math Teacher; Board of Directors-Illinois Ornithological Society; Gull website  Gull ID in the Great Lakes Region.

2:00 p.m.

m)  Brad Bumgardner, Park Interpretive Naturalist, Indiana Dunes State Park:  Birding the Indiana Dunes and other Indiana Lakeshore Locations.

n)   Nicholas Lund, National Parks Conservation Association; Senior Manager, Landscape Conservation Program:  Birding in the National Parks. 

o)  Josh Engel, Field Museum and Tropical Birding Tours:  Birding Under Buddha's Gaze in the Mountains of Bhutan.

p)  Charlotte Adelman and Bernard L. Schwartz, authors of The Midwestern Native Garden ...Creating Bird and Butterfly Friendly Backyards and Gardens with Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants.

3:00 p.m.

--Closing Speaker (In Lecture Hall Auditorium):  Joel Greenberg, Research Associate, Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Field Museum will present Of Birds and Murder: The Life of Nathan Leopold. 

        Mark your calendars now for March 19. You don’t want to miss this exciting event!



We know you have many charitable causes to consider as we enter the holiday season and we hope you will include Chicago Audubon Society in your end-of-year gift giving plans. We are asking for your help so we may continue our mission to educate others about natural history and advocate sound environmental decisions. Without your donations, we simply could not accomplish all that we have done. If you would like to donate to our 2015 Annual Appeal, please click here.  

On the conservation front, for many years we have been the home of the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors (CBCM), a volunteer group that rescues several thousand birds a year from all over the Chicago region.  CBCM also administers the “Lights Out Chicago” program, which we believe saves thousands of additional migratory birds. We have a representative on the Mayor’s Nature and Wildlife Committee participating in the discussions on issues and plans that can affect our natural areas. Members of our board regularly attend citizens’ meetings regarding local environmental issues, keeping us abreast of developments at important areas such as Montrose Point and plans for the Lucas Museum and Obama Library. We are an active member of the Bird Conservation Network, a consortium of twenty conservation groups where our voice has a more powerful impact through strength in numbers. With other local groups, we are part of a Cook County Forest Preserve grant to enhance habitat and introduce more people to nature. We also have received a grant to develop a beginner’s bird guide in Spanish.

In addition, we offer public programs ranging from introductions to exotic locations of the world like Namibia and Cuba to discussions of environmental issues such as how climate change is affecting birds of the Midwest. We host regular nature walks that give many people their first taste of birding. In 2015, we hosted our biannual awards dinner honoring twelve local environmentalists for their contributions. We are currently deep in the planning for the 11th Birding America symposium which will be held on March 19, 2016. We are one of the only natural history groups in the region that maintains a full-time office where people can call with questions ranging from “What is this strange bird in my backyard?” to “How do I stop woodpeckers from ruining my cedar siding?”

By donating to the 2015 Annual Appeal, you will be helping us maintain our educational and environmental missions. You may enter your donation online by clicking here. If you prefer, you may also contribute by calling our office with your card information (773-539-6793), or you may send a donation by regular mail to Chicago Audubon, 5801 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois 60646. 

We Thank You for Your Support in the Past and in the Future!

And May Your New Year be Filled with Many Many Birds!!!


The Skokie Lagoons: A Jewel for Recreation--A Paradise for Volunteers

"This network of pools, channels and islands winds between Winnetka, Northfield and Glencoe. With public boat access (boasting some of Cook County’s best fishing), biking and hiking trails and picnic areas, this well loved, wooded preserve offers peaceful retreats and activities around every bend. The Skokie Lagoons Forest Preserve covers 894 acres."   Cook County Forest Preserve District

THE SKOKIE LAGOONS -- By John Elliott, Chicago Audubon Society Conservation Committee

Bur Oak.  Photo by A.L. Gibson.Long before there was a forest preserve, before a settlement called Chicago was founded on the prairie, before Jean Baptiste DuSable built a trading post on the Chicago River, when explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet made the first recorded passage by Europeans over the Chicago Portage, a grand old bur oak much like the one pictured here would have already been a maturing tree. Known to relatively few, the original still stands today surrounded by a tangle of buckthorn on the western edge of Erickson Woods preserve of the Skokie Lagoons.

When the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the Skokie Lagoons during the great depression of the 1930’s, the region gained a fishing, boating, hiking and biking recreation area—at the cost of losing a diverse marshland home to many wild creatures. From Willow Road to Lake-Cook Road in Winnetka the only remnants of those original communities is a sedge meadow and the neighboring grand old oak that lie between the levee and drainage channel of the lagoons. Over the years much of the land was overrun by buckthorn and other invasive species of marginal value to wildlife. After the lakes of the lagoon system were dredged and rehabilitated in the 1990’s, some hardy volunteers took on the challenge of remedying at least a small portion of past neglect. Chicago Audubon’s Jerry Garden was the first volunteer steward to work on removing invasive species at a lagoon site along Tower Road in Winnetka, beginning at the shore just east of the parking area along Tower Road. After Jerry left us for Alaska, Dave Kosnik and Daniel Kielson took over as stewards. A few years later, Gary Morrissey also joined the stewardship team. In the past few years, work has been concentrated north of Tower, working east towards Forestway Drive. Buckthorn has been removed from much of the target area. While buckthorn removal remains a regular workday activity—and a favorite of many volunteers—there is a renewed emphasis on follow-up work. Even though “it’s not as much fun,” Dave says, follow up maintenance is defense against recolonization and is now a very important task. In spring, control of garlic mustard is also needed. 

Quite a few years ago I put in my small bit of effort working with Mighty Acorns school groups removing buckthorn around that historic oak. In the past few years, responsibility for restoration there has fallen to Adam Kessel of the Cook County Forest Preserves. Unfortunately, he reports, the last school working there left the program two years ago, and the re-sprouting of buckthorn threatens to overwhelm what had been accomplished. Meanwhile, volunteers worked with district contractors to remove teasel from the sedge meadow. Dave Kosnik reports success. If all goes well the meadow will only need prescribed fire for maintenance. Teasel removal was spearheaded by the site’s bird monitors who then documented the return of shrubland birds like Willow Flycatchers. Daniel Kielsen is also president of an organization called the Backyard Nature Center (BYNC) which works with schools, turning the lagoons into something of an outdoor classroom. Their main focus of late has been on aquatics. The BYNC is a community organization in New Trier Township spanning Glencoe and Winnetka that works to connect children, youth, and adults with local natural areas. It is particularly active in bringing school groups to the Lagoons (and other preserves) for science lessons and service learning.

Prothonotary Warblers and Red-headed Woodpeckers that have nested here testify to the importance of restoration for habitat. Migrant birds are finding critical resting stops here now. Lake restoration greatly improved resources for wintering waterfowl, including a Barrow’s Goldeneye that was a winter visitor several years ago. Dave says, “The Skokie Lagoons is a special place, a big area with a lot of diverse habitat in the middle of suburbia. Many people use the lagoons for recreation, and the many native and migrant birds and other animals that live there make it a really important place.”  Thanks Dave, Daniel, and Gary! Thanks volunteers!  The reward is knowing you have contributed in a perhaps small but no doubt valuable way to the revival of habitat for birds and other creatures. 

Workdays every second Saturday of the month welcome any and all volunteers. Contact Dave Kosnik at for information. 


A Few Things to Keep in Mind About Birdfeeders - in the Winter and All Year

Feeder Placement for Reducing Window Strikes—Placement of feeders within three feet of a window or more than 30 feet away from a window are the safest positions. When feeders are close to a window, a bird leaving the feeder cannot gain enough momentum to do itself harm if it strikes the window. And if feeders are more than 30 feet from a window, the birds are less likely to perceive windows as a pathway to other parts of your yard.Some other possibilities for hanging a feeder include hanging from the eaves at the corner of a house, or fixing it directly to a window. Also, periodically moving feeders to a different location helps to minimize the build up of waste on the ground. And placement near (but not over) a water feature, such as a bird bath, will almost ensure that birds will find your feeder.

Providing Safe Haven Near the FeederBirds are more often than not completely out in the open when at a feeder, making them targets for local predators. A brush pile or shrub within about 10 feet of the feeder will provide a place for birds to quickly fly into when a predator is within striking distant.The term “brush pile” describes a mound or heap of woody vegetative material, usually loosely constructed to furnish additional wildlife cover. Brush piles can be tidy or wild, large or small, and mostly made up of wood which can be alive or dead. Discarded Christmas trees (without the tinsel) can be used as a base for a brush pile—then build up from there. Our resident and migrating birds need the kind of cover that brush piles offer. 

Three Seeds that Attract Many Birds:

Black Oil Sunflower:  A favorite with many species—Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Blue jays, Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches and others. Because of raccoons and squirrels, it’s best to put most of your sunflower seeds in hanging feeders. The black sunflower seed, sometimes called oil seed is best rather than the grey-and-white-striped sunflower seed. It’s called black oil because they are higher in oil content and they also have softer shells.

Nyjer:  Goldfinches adore Nyjer seed. It is also very popular with Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls and other small-billed seed-eating birds—Nuthatches, Chickadees, Doves, and Downy Woodpeckers—but no one loves it more than Goldfinches! And Nyjer doesn’t look large enough to have a shell, but it does! And because it’s so small, it’s easy to mistake ground debris under a Nyjer feeder for seed that has fallen, but take a closer look at what looks like fallen seed—it’s most likely tiny Nyjer seed shells on the ground. The birds eat the seeds and the shells drop. And, happily for the birds, squirrels typically ignore Nyjer seed (which is good for you as well because it is expensive). Do not mix the Nyjer with other seeds because you will have squirrels and Grackles sweeping through the mixture to get at what they want.

Safflower:  Squirrels do not like Safflower, and Grackles may try it once but then generally leave it alone after the first encounter. Its thick shell is difficult for some birds to crack open, but it is loved by many species and high in protein. Put Safflower in tube feeders for House Finches, Chickadees, and Nuthatches. Use elevated feeders for Blue Jays, Cardinals, and other Grosbeaks, and put it in ground feeders for Doves. And, as with the Nyjer, be careful not to mix Safflower in with other seed.

Thank You for Feeding the Birds All Year Long!!


Illinois Birds: A Century of Change

Book Review by Gail Goldberger



Illinois Birds: A Century of Change cover art

is published by the Illinois Natural History
Survey Special Publication 31, 2010, and
can be found at


Commissioned by the Illinois Natural History Survey, data compiled from bird counts at three fifty-year intervals, and repeated at the same locations, make up the oldest standardized survey in the nation.

CAS Wooded Island Birdwalks - Saturdays

Repeats every week every Saturday until Sat Dec 26 2015.
Saturday, January 3, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, January 10, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, January 17, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, January 24, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, January 31, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, February 7, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, February 14, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, February 21, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, February 28, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, March 7, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, March 14, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, March 28, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, April 4, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, April 11, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, April 18, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, May 2, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, May 9, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, May 16, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, May 23, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, May 30, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, June 6, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, June 13, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, June 20, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, June 27, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, July 4, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, July 11, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, July 25, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, August 8, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, August 15, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, August 22, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, August 29, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, September 5, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, September 12, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, September 26, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, October 3, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, October 10, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, October 31, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, November 21, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, November 28, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, December 5, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, December 19, 2015 - 8:00am
Saturday, December 26, 2015 - 8:00am
Meet at Clarence Darrow Bridge, just south of Museum of Science and Industry, in Chicago's Jackson Park.

Chicago's Jackson Park.
Every Saturday at 8:00 a.m.

These wonderful walks continue throughout the year. Bring binoculars, field guides, and dress for the weather. Meet at Clarence Darrow Bridge, just south of Museum of Science and Industry. To read a Chicago Tribune article on Wooded Island by Barbara Brotman from September 5, 2012, click here!

Skokie Lagoons workdays

Repeats every month on the second Saturday 12 times.
Saturday, January 11, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, June 14, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, July 12, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, November 8, 2014 - 9:00am
Saturday, December 13, 2014 - 9:00am
Tower Road parking lot, east of the lagoon bridge.

10:00 a.m. every second Saturday of the month.
These workdays are continuous throughout the year.

The Chicago Audubon Society sponsors regular monthly workdays at Skokie Lagoons every second Saturday of the month. Activities include buckthorn cutting, brush pile burning, and other management activities. Wear work clothes. Meet at the Tower Road parking lot, east of the lagoon bridge. For further information, please call Dave Kosnik at (847) 456-6368. Everyone is welcome!

The City Dark

The City Dark Ian Cheney’s 2011 award winning documentary – The City Dark – gives audiences an appreciation of what is being lost as we live in a world that is increasingly filled with light pollution. Besides no longer being able to enjoy stars in a night sky or inquire about the cosmos by peering deep into space – there are real dangers to human health and the well-being of the planet when we live in a 24-hour light cycle.

Migratory birds fatally attracted to urban lighting, baby turtles disoriented and confused by beach front lights are all victims of the rapid introduction of excessive outdoor lighting that has occurred in just the last generation. Changing light in the environment is altering habitat in a way that is not good for nature and humans.

Delta Dispatches: The latest news on efforts to restore Coastal Louisiana

National Audubon, among other organizations, co-sponsors Delta Dispatches, an online newsletter that keeps us abreast of current environmental updates regarding Coastal Louisiana. This website is a great resource for the latest information on the region:

Volunteers Needed to Help Save the Birds!

Chicago Bird Collision Monitors is looking for volunteers to assist in their conservation and rescue efforts for migratory birds in downtown Chicago and outlying areas. Help rescue the birds! CBCM is a conservation project of the Chicago Audubon Society. For further information, please call (773) 988-1867.

For even more info go to

What to do if you find an entangled bird:


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