Big Year Birding Competition

By Lisa Biehle Files

Calling all new and experienced birders! The Big Year Birding Competition, sponsored by the Forest Preserves of Cook County, began March 1, and ends December 31. This is not a competition about stamina or skill, but about getting outside, observing wildlife, and convincing as many friends as possible to get involved.

There are two primary goals:

  1. Join the Thatcher Woods Tanagers Team or create your own team or call your closest preserve to find out about other teams. Whichever teams acquire the most new birders during the year will win prizes.

  2. Observe wildlife at your closest preserve and then enter as many bird species as possible into your preserve’s eBird hotspot. The teams with the most bird species recorded will be rewarded also.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society created eBird in 2002 to collect data on bird counts and distribution. eBird participants will join an international online community of scientists and hobbyists who share their avian observations.

Audubon's recently released Bird and Climate Report says that of the 588 North American bird species, more than half are likely to be impacted by climate change during the next 50 years. Collecting data now will help conservationists make future decisions regarding avian habitat.

More Birding Adventures

Bird Walks The Preserves have planned morning bird walks at several locations. For those near Thatcher Woods, meet at Trailside Museum, 738 Thatcher Ave., in River Forest, at 9:30 a.m. on April 1, 9, 15, and 29, as well as May 6. Bring binoculars, if you have them.

 Yellow bird, possibly an oriole.

Red-Winged Blackbird—Bird of the Month Learn about this wetland bird that both migrates through and nests in our area at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at the Trailside Museum, 738 Thatcher Ave., in River Forest. Families welcome.

Birding Field Trip A Big Year Birding Field Trip is scheduled at 7-9 a.m. Saturday, April 16, at Miller Meadow North, 8300-8374 W. Roosevelt Rd., in Forest Park. Meet John Elliott to trek through grasslands and woods in order to spot a wide variety of birds. Bring binoculars, if you have them.

The Big SitFrom 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 7, all six Nature Centers (including Trailside Museum), will host a Big Sit. This involves a rotation of volunteers and experts who will count the number of birds they can spot or hear without leaving a 17-foot circle. New and experienced birders are welcome to help for part or all of the day. Data collected will be used to help make decisions about bird habitat conservation. Bring binoculars, if you have them.

Yellow Warblers—Bird of the Month Come hear about these tiny, colorful, migrating birds at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at Trailside Museum, 738 Thatcher Ave., in River Forest. Families welcome.