Category Archives: Hawk Watch

Lifer #575

On Sunday, a grey and windy day, I drove up to the Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch. I wanted to visit with some friends there, but I have to admit there was another draw – a female Mountain Bluebird had been seen around the pavilion fairly regularly since November 9th.

When I pulled up I started fiddling with my binoculars and camera. I was still fumbling with my stuff as I started walking up to the pavilion – only to be greeted by Paul Sweet and Karen Lund, cameras in hand, pointing them in my general direction. Apparently the Mountain Bluebird arrived about the same time I did. I dropped everything to watch this lovely lost lady and snap some pictures. Life bird #575!

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

IBSP Mountain Bluebird

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Posted in Hawk Watch, Illinois, Life List | 3 Comments

Celebrate Migration at IBSP this weekend!

Here’s an event I wish I could attend! The Illinois Beach State Park Hawk Watch will celebrate their third annual “Migration Celebration” on Saturday, October 15th – and all are welcome! I attended last year as a handler with FCWR and I had so much fun. The weather looks perfect for raptor migration this weekend, so head out to IBSP this Saturday!


Turkey Vultures migrate over the IBSP Hawk Watch. Here’s Turkey Jr at the Migration Celebration last year.

If the prospect of hot hawk migration action isn’t enough to excite you, though, the “Migration Celebration” has more to offer visitors.


Scopes lined up at Hawk Watch during last year’s Migration Celebration

There will be an hour-long bird walk starting at 7:30am. Birding at Illinois Beach State Park is usually excellent, and if raptors are on the move, chances are other migrants are also around.

There will also be things to keep children busy – fun and educational raptor-themed activities.

And of course, like last year, Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation will be in attendance with education raptors on the glove. The Ferruginous Hawk Journey will be there. If you don’t know about Journey’s amazing story, it was covered by ABC Chicago earlier this year: Hawk travels 1,500 miles by train.


Beautiful Journey. This photo was taken during his first public appearance in early 2011.

So pack up your binoculars and head to IBSP this Saturday! I really wish I could be there!


0511 and me in the wind during last year’s Migration Celebration

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Posted in FCWR, Festivals & Events, Hawk Watch | 1 Comment

Skywatch at IBSP

As part of the Illinois Beach State Park Hawkwatch 10th anniversary celebration, we attended a morning bird walk that followed the path leading from the Hawkwatch pavilion. It was a cold morning and started out a bit overcast, but soon the sun was shining.

Path

Lone Tree

One tree held a family or families of Bluebirds. There were about ten birds in a single tree. I’d never seen so many at the same time before.

Bluebirds

Some trees were just starting to turn.

Turning Tree

Turning Tree

Towards the end of the path we spotted a sparrow which we determined to be a Lincoln’s. Life bird!

Lincoln's Sparrow

For more stories of the sky from around the world, visit Skywatch Friday.

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Posted in Hawk Watch, Illinois, Skywatch Friday | 2 Comments

Raptors at Hawkwatch

On the weekend of 10-11 October, the Illinois Beach State Park Hawkwatch celebrated their 10th year with an open house weekend. As part of the celebration, education birds from a new group, The Northern Illinois Raptor Center, were on hand. The birds wowed the crowd with their beauty while their handlers told us about them and answered our questions.

The NIRC was formed after the raptor program at the Springbrook Nature Center was discontinued due to lack of funds. This is their (western) Red-tailed Hawk.

Red-tailed Hawk1

Red-tailed Hawk (western)

Red-tailed Hawk (western)

The NIRC now has four birds which are currently housed with NIRC team members while construction of their new facility at Vogelei Park in Hoffman Estates is underway. This is their American Kestrel.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

The birds are used for education programs. The group eventually plans to also rehabilitate birds in need when their facilities are completed. This is their Great Horned Owl.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

I love Great Horned Owls, but I love Barred Owls even more. Look at this beauty, the NIRC’s fourth bird.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

It’s always so great to see raptors like these up close, and to hear their stories. I so admire everyone that works with these beautiful raptors and their dedication to both their birds and to educating the public. Big kudos to the NIRC and everyone else involved with caring for birds of prey. Thank you for all you do.

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Posted in Festivals & Events, Hawk Watch, Illinois, Rehabilitation | 1 Comment

Hawk Watch starts tomorrow @ IBSP

Tomorrow the 10th season of hawk watching will begin at Illinois Beach State Park. Last Saturday I attended a very informative Hawk Watching Seminar at Volo Bog State Natural Area. During the first part of the seminar, IBSP Hawk Watch founder Vic Berardi shared a great presentation on identifying hawks in flight. I took several pages of notes but clearly the best way to improve hawk ID skills will be to sit with the team, watching, which I hope to do some time before the Hawk Watch finishes at the end of November.

In the afternoon Vic shared some (more) of his wonderful photography and gave us attendees lots of great tips on taking pictures of raptors in flight. Vic has a new blog, The Raptorphile, as well as a super photography tips website along with his son at Photo Naturalist. You should check them out!

Later, other founding members of the IBSP team, Janice Sweet and Paul Sweet, shared data and analysis of the data the team has gathered over the last 9 years, like season records and trends in age data and period of migration for the different species. For instance, most of the Bald Eagles observed at the IBSP Hawk Watch are juveniles. Adult birds tend to congregate around the Mississippi River, but the local juvies don’t know that yet.

Do you volunteer at a hawk watch in your area, or have you ever visited one?

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Posted in Citizen Science, Hawk Watch | Leave a comment
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