Monday, June 15, 2009

Future birding: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie!

While perusing my route along I-80 last night with girlfriend AB, I saw that just south of Chicago near Joliet, IL, lies Midewin (mih-DAY-win, according to an article I read) National Tallgrass Prairie. Sounds awesome! So I googled to see what might be in store for us as we cruise across.

Turns out, I might be able to see some really good stuff -- according to a Chicago Wilderness article:
As its prairies have been restored, Midewin has attracted growing numbers of rare grassland birds. In fact, the site first came to ecologists’ attention in 1982 when iologists visited it and noticed upland sandpipers. Birders will also observe loggerhead shrikes, bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks, Henslow’s sparrows,
grasshopper sparrows, and many other species of grassland birds.
The Audubon ornithological summary continues, as this prairie is listed as an Important Birding Area:
Midewin provides crucial habitat for breeding Upland Sandpiper, Bell's Vireo, Bobolink, Dickcissel, Sedge Wren, Eastern Meadowlark, Henslow's and Grasshopper Sparrows, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Northern Mockingbird and Loggerhead Shrike.
During spring and fall migration, large numbers of migrant grassland and shrubland birds pause and rest at Midewin, while the small wetlands attract migratory rails, snipes, Marsh Wren and Swamp Sparrow.
This site was chosen as an IBA because it met the criteria for breeding Upland Sandpiper, Willow Flycatcher, Sedge Wren, Loggerhead Shrike, Bell's Vireo, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Bobolink. [I bolded potential lifers]
I could see a few lifers at this place! Nowhere, however, did I see anything about the ever-elusive Prairie Chicken (either greater or lesser). So I'll keep looking for that. I thought I'd seen mention of the Yellow-headed Blackbird as well, but nothing here. That would also be a lifer.

Still--this might be a great place to stop and check things out!


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