This past October, the Forest Preserves of Cook County hosted a Bird the Preserves Big Month Birding Competition. Eighteen teams adopted a forest preserve for the month-long event, and collectively spotted nearly 170 bird species of the 283 species featured on the Forest Preserves’ birding checklist.
And the winners are…
- Greatest Number of Species Recorded: Creatures from the Skokie Lagoons, 107 different bird species
- Highest Ratio of October Species Observed/All-Time Species Observed: Buttonbush Birdocrats. The team observed 54 bird species of the 67 all-time observes (and added 26 new species to the list!)
- Greatest Number of Checklists: Perkins Prairie School Warblers, 88 checklists
According to Judy Pollock, a member of the Buttonbush Birdocrats, the October Big Month Birding Competition was a great way to get more information about Cook County’s bird population during the month.
“One of the interesting things we saw was how many warblers lingered in the area,” Pollock says. Final bird results show that 20 different warbler species were spotted in the 18 different competition preserves.
Creatures from the Skokie Lagoons recorded a number of interesting bird species, including Snow Goose, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Bald Eagle and Nelson’s Sparrow, explains team member Jeffrey Sanders. Additional birds spotted at Skokie Lagoons include Screech Owls, Eurasian Collared Dove, and Connecticut Warbler.
While learning what species of birds could be found in the Forest Preserves throughout October was an exciting accomplishment of the competition, even more exciting may be the inclusion of commonly un-birded locations.
“During the Big Month, a couple of the teams adopted new preserves. Camp Pine and Buttonbush previously did not have a lot of recorded sightings,” explains Pollock. “The competition gave us an opportunity to really learn about the bird populations at these sites.”
The birding competition was also a great way to engage birders and encourage fall birding. In addition to the Big Month competition, the Perkins Prairie School Warblers engaged participants by adding a number of their own competition categories for the team: most visits by one person, earliest time of day visit, and coldest weather at the time of visit.
Interested in birding in the Forest Preserves?
There are numerous ways to Bird the Preserves! Visit our Birding Page for a full list of upcoming birding-related events and programs, as well as to view the Forest Preserves’ birding checklist.