Last Wednesday I joined the Lake-Cook Audubon walk at Ryerson Woods. Ryerson is a hot local birding spot, named recently in Birder’s World magazine as a top location for watching warblers. Leading the walk was Nan Buckhardt, The Lake County Forest Preserves’ Environmental Education Manager. As we began the walk, she mentioned that the trees and other area vegetation are one to two weeks ahead of their normal schedule, due to warm weather we had in early April. Over several nights it did not dip lower than 50°F, which triggered the plants to start doing their spring thing. That means warbler-watching will be extra tough in the coming weeks.
A trail at Ryerson, a bit too green for the time of year
Unfortunately the morning’s walk was rather quiet, having come just days before a huge south wind brought up migrants by the truckload. We did have nice looks at a Swamp Sparrow and Wood Ducks in a tree; a male Eastern Bluebird shone brightly in the sunshine for everyone. A few lucky birders also got to see a lone Black-throated Green Warbler, but I missed it.
Illinois listserv reports from Ryerson in the following days named many more migrants than we. For the morning I saw 25 species, including a few I picked up on another go round the trails after the group walk. My morning’s highlight was a close encounter with a deer, who crossed the trail towards the river right in front of me.
Later, when the Brushwood building at Ryerson opened up, I finally got to see an art exhibit I’d been wanting to see for several months. AVIARY, Artists’ Passion for Birds ran at Brushwood from March 7 through April 28 (I was JUST in time). There was a nice mix of bird art, from photos to paintings to sculptures, tastefully arranged in the small multi-room space.
The art joined permanent fixtures at Brushwood, which includes several Audubon prints and a great collection of 20 small bird dioramas. The dioramas are part of a larger collection of 900 bird displays, most of which are housed at the Field Museum.
I was surprised to learn that members of the public as well as educators could borrow the dioramas as part of the Harris Educational Loan Program. I wonder how often they are loaned out, and I wonder how often it is done by a non-educator.