Meetings & Programs

General meetings and programs of the Lake County Audubon are held at 7:30pm on the first Monday of the month October through May skipping the month of January.  These meetings / programs are open to the public as well as members and are typically held in the second floor meeting room of the Libertyville Village Hall, located at 118 W. Cook Street, which is just across the street to the north of the Cook Memorial Library.

For our 2018 events and bird walks click here

 

2018 – 2019 Program Schedule

October 1. Reversing the Trends of Chicagoland’s Most Threatened Birds – Audubon’s Conservation Programs for Marsh and Grassland Birds by Nat Miller

Wetland birds of the Calumet region have faced precipitous declines over the past 30 years. The  conversion of rich marsh to open-water ponds or mono-cultures of invasive species has put secretive marsh species like Common Gallinule, Least Bittern and King Rail on the fast-track to extirpation. However, new and intensive  monitoring and wetland restoration is setting the stage for an amazing comeback story.

While the dramatic decline of Midwest grassland bird populations has slowed in recent years, many species such as Bobolink continue on a downward trajectory and face new complex threats such as climate change and the conversion of hay to row crop. Audubon is working with seven counties in the Chicago Metropolitan Region to stabilize and increase grassland bird populations in a coordinate effort at the landscape scale.  

Nat Miller is the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Flyway Director of Conservation for National Audubon Society. Nat holds a Master's degree in International Environmental Policy and spent nearly a decade in protected area management and policy development in Central America and the Caribbean before joining Audubon in 2014.  Nat now leads the regional conservation programs and projects for Audubon.

November 5. ID Review: Gulls of the Lake County Area by Adam Sell

Gulls are often avoided or ignored by birders due to their perceived difficulty in identification.  This presentation will review the regularly occurring gulls in the area and help take away some of the mystery in their identification.  It's a favorite family of the presenter, and he can't wait to show how gulls are actually exciting!  Yes. Exciting!

Adam Sell doesn't remember a time when a pair of binoculars wasn't around his neck.  He was mentored by his father and other local birders in north Texas, and later by the incredible birding community of the Chicagoland area.  He is currently on the board of the Illinois Ornithological Society, and a member of the Illinois Ornithological Records Committee. He is a passionate hawk watcher, and is the lead counter and data compiler for the Fort Sheridan Hawkwatch in Lake Forest, Illinois. A middle school educator, Adam is a natural teacher who loves spending his summers guiding. When not birding, Adam enjoys the study of all other aspects of nature, fly fishing, and relaxing in the outdoors with his wife, Tiffany.

December 3. Status and Conservation of Lake County’s Reptiles and Amphibians by Gary Glowacki

Lake County is home to a diverse mix of reptiles and amphibians with 34 frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles and snakes species known to have inhabited the area.  This presentation will go over the distinguishing characteristics, natural history and status of each species and what the Lake County Forest Preserve District is doing to conserve these often overlooked and misunderstood creatures.

Gary Glowacki is a wildlife ecologist with the Lake County Forest Preserve District where he oversees wildlife management, monitoring and conservation programs across over 30,000 acres of forest preserve land.  He earned a B.S. in Biology from Valparaiso University and a M.S. in Biology from Purdue University.  His research interests include the long-term monitoring, population modeling and the conservation of rare, threaten and endangered species, with a special emphasis on amphibians and reptiles. Gary also sits on the Illinois Amphibian/Reptile Endangered Species Technical Advisory Committee, Blanding’s Turtle and Eastern Massasauga Recovery Teams, Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation advisory board and is co-chair of the Chicago Wilderness Wildlife Committee. 

February 4. Don't call me Hedwig: Snowy Owl irruptions in the Chicago area by Josh Engel

Every few years, Snowy Owls descend by the thousands into the northern tier of states from their tundra breeding groups. This usually results in more than 100 individuals in Illinois alone, capturing the imagination of birders and non-birders alike. Starting with a basic question--What is a Snowy Owl?--Josh Engel will explore Snowy Owl biology, including the factors behind these irruptions, what makes them so exceptional, and what he learned about their diet from dissecting their pellets. He will also touch on Long-eared Owls and whatever other owls happen to be creating news in early February!

Birds have been central to Josh Engel's life for as long as he can remember. He learned that there was something called "birding" at age 12 and pursued it with abandon. His life since has followed birds to all corners of the globe, guiding birding tours and conducting research for The Field Museum, as he's transformed his childhood passion into a career. It has all led to his current endeavor, running his company Red Hill Birding, organizing and leading birding tours around Illinois, the US, and the world. Click here to see the Red Hill Birding website.

March 4. Birding the Indiana Dunes and Beyond by Brad Bumgardner

From Calumet Park to Michigan City Harbor, the Indiana Dunes region is a birder's paradise.  From high dune oak forests, restored grasslands, and interdunal wetlands, over 370 species of birds have been found hugging the far south shore of Lake Michigan.  Explore the amazing birding just outside the Chicago region and why nearly a thousand people now descend on it's annual birding festival each May.

Brad Bumgardner is the executive director for the Indiana Audubon Society and chairs the annual Indiana Dunes Birding Festival. He is the former head naturalist for the Indiana Dunes State Park and has a Bachelors in Science from Purdue University. Brad has been presented the region's top 20 under 40 business leaders award and currently resides with his family in Valparaiso, IN.

April 1. Why I Like Doing Big Days by Beau Schaefer

After 5 years of monthly Big Days, Beau has learned a lot about birds and himself. He will share those things as well as discuss his basic Big Day route and some of the highlights of past Big Days including their Lake County record of 164 in 2016.

Beau Schaefer is in his 32nd year as an Honors Biology and Human Genetics teacher at Libertyville HS in Libertyville, IL. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI and a Master’s in Biology from Northeastern IL Univ. in Chicago. Beau began birding around 9 or 10 after he saw a Blackburnian Warbler in has yard one day and then his parents bought him the Golden Guide to Birds of North America which he memorized. Beau didn’t really start serious listing until 2008 after he finished his baseball coaching career at the high school. Since then, however, birding has been his favorite activity and as a former competitive college athlete, Beau really enjoys the competitive aspects of birding. He has done Big Years, Big Months, and Big Days and has learned a lot doing all of these. His ABA List is 521, Illinois: 326, and Lake County: 305. Beau's previous speaking experience includes 2016 as a breakout speaker at The Birding America Conference in Chicago, and his “13 Things I Learned Doing Big Days” article was published in Feb, 2016 in Birdwatching Magazine.

May 6. Avian Architecture by Emma England

Nesting is one of the most interesting and complex of avian behaviors. Birds have developed an extraordinary range of nest structures to shelter, protect and help warm their developing eggs and chicks. Nests vary in their size, material and type, with designs including the cup, cavity, scrape and pendant nest. In this program Emma will teach us about the architectural ability of birds that has enabled them to diversify into so many habitats and to create some of the best engineered structures in the natural world. Specific examples of nest design, location and construction will be discussed from the tiny hummingbird nest to the enormous platform nest of the Bald Eagle. This will be a fascinating look into the world of our feathered architect friends and their creative constructions.

Emma was born in England and moved to Sweden in 2010. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacology and worked in the pharmaceutical industry as a biologist for 18 years. Since moving to Illinois Emma has become very active in the field of conservation. She has been a board member of the Lake County Audubon Society (LCAS) since 2014 and became president of LCAS in 2018. Emma is a member of the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) Volunteer Stewards Network carrying out habitat restoration. She is also a LCFPD Education Volunteer leading nature walks. Emma is a wildlife monitor for Eastern Bluebird and Purple Martin nest boxes, Bird Conservation Network bird monitor and Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network monitor. Emma has loved birds her whole life and remembers that her first book was a bird field guide. She has monitored bird nest boxes for 6 years and has a keen interest in all aspects of ornithology. Emma’s other passion is nature photography and she enjoys photographing the huge diversity of nature in Lake County with a specialty in bird photography. Emma is Vice President of North Shore Camera Club.

 

2017 – 2018 Program Schedule

 

October 2.  Vultures: Nature's Clean Up Crew by Stephanie Touzalin from Willowbrook Wildlife Center.

Stephanie's program will include information on vulture's role in the environment, their distribution and status worldwide. She will also provide us with some fun facts about vultures and "biofacts" about their feathers and skull.

Stephanie Touzalin received her Bachelors of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Science, with a focus in Fish and Wildlife Conservation, from the University of Illinois in Champaign in 2004 and quickly became involved with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. As an Animal Care volunteer, she spent time at Willowbrook preparing diets and care for the patients in rehabilitation and resident wildlife. Once on staff, Stephanie worked at the front desk admitting some of the over 9,500 animals Willowbrook accepts each year and helping residents to live more harmoniously with their wildlife neighbors. Since 2010, Stephanie has been in her current role as one of the Naturalists that make up Willowbrook’s education team. While developing and teaching programs, leading Wildlife Explorers Summer Camp, managing Willowbrook’s social media, and interacting with visitors are a large part of her responsibilities, Stephanie trains and manages the education raptors and other animal ambassadors at Willowbrook. While birds, especially birds of prey, are a favorite focus, Stephanie has been working on her insect and plant identification and as well as developing taxidermy skills.  

For more information on Willowbrook Wildlife Center click here.

 

November 6.  Migrations and Invasions: Connections Between Migrant Birds and Invasive Shrubs by James Marshall. 

The focus of this talk will be on the role of migrant birds in spreading invasive plant species, especially the bush honeysuckles (Lonicera). We know that honeysuckle is bird-dispersed, but we expected that migrant birds would be more involved in that dispersal than resident birds. We are also interested in whether honeysuckle seeds germinate better with or without bird assistance, and if any particular birds are especially helpful. This can provide useful information to habitat managers trying to decide when during the season to most effectively remove invasive plants.

James Marshall is currently an associate professor of biology in the Chemical and Biological Sciences department at Rockford University. He teaches a wide range of courses including ecology, conservation biology, animal behavior, evolution, and of course, ornithology. James also teaches an evolution course in the summers at Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie. His research interests at RU involve birds carrying things we’d rather they didn’t – invasive plant seeds and Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease). James has also just finished his seventh summer of a long-term banding project on some of the Lake Erie islands, looking at the survivorship of breeding birds in some of the island nature preserves.

 

December 4.  Whooping Crane Conservation Efforts at the International Crane Foundation by Lizzie Condon

The story of Whooping Crane conservation is dramatic. In this talk Lizzie will give a brief overview of the history of Whooping Crane populations and human efforts to bring this species back from the brink of extinction. This will include an update on the Eastern Migratory Population reintroduction project, which has gone through many changes this year. She will also talk about the International Crane Foundation’s ongoing research efforts and how the International Crane Foundation applies scientific knowledge to provide working conservation solutions.

Although Whooping Cranes have come a long way from their brush with extinction, they still face many threats. The survival of Whooping Cranes depends on the actions of people—people protecting the ecosystems where Whooping Cranes live and people living in harmony with the birds. Lizzie is working to create communities that give a whoop about Whooping Cranes through using social marketing tactics to raise awareness and pride in these beautiful birds. Lizzie will explain the tactics used for this campaign, which she worked on for two years in Alabama. The campaign is now expanding to Indiana, and Lizzie will talk about how you can assist in outreach efforts.

Lizzie grew up in Glenview, Illinois and received her degree in biology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She then completed her master’s degree at University of Minnesota. While Lizzie enjoys outreach and education work, she also has a background in ornithological field work. She has participated in research studies in six states and in Brazil, and her master’s project focused on diversity and abundance of Neotropical migrant songbirds at urban stopover sites. Lizzie now works for the International Crane Foundation as their Keeping Whooping Cranes Safe coordinator. Through partnerships, media outreach and education, Lizzie hopes to help make Whooping Cranes feel welcome in communities that share their landscape. You can contact Lizzie at econdon@savingcranes.org.

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) works worldwide to conserve cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend. ICF provides knowledge, leadership, and inspiration to engage people in resolving threats to cranes and their diverse landscapes. Please visit www.savingcranes.org to learn more.

February 5.  Bird Brains? New Research Presents Fascinating Evidence of Avian Intelligence by Emma England.

Audubon Board member Emma England will present a program centered on some of the new studies illustrating the incredible mental capabilities of birds. Using photos, film clips, and information from scientific reports and recently published books, Emma will provide some examples of the amazing abilities of parrots, crows, and other birds. The skillful use of tools among some bird species and the creativity exhibited by other species in puzzle solving will be discussed. Emma has had great interest in this topic and has followed the research for many years. The English language has many derogatory expressions related to birds as for example, lame duck, hen pecked, turkey, lay an egg, but this presentation will be, in the most positive use of the term, for the birds!  FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT MISSED EMMA'S PRESENTATION DUE TO THE SNOW SHE WILL BE PRESENTING IT AGAIN AT THE WILD ONES LAKE TO PRAIRIE CHAPETR MEETING ON SEPTEMBER 4, AT FREMONT LIBRARY IN MUNDELEIN AT 7PM.

March 5.  Warblerpaloosa: The Challenge of Photographing Tiny Avian Jewels by Bill Reichert.  

Did you ever get the idea of doing something wild and crazy – challenging but doable?  Well that’s how this whole thing started – sort of a warbler photography challenge. How many warblers could be well-photographed, not just seen but photographed, in about six weeks of travel?

Nature photography and birds in particular currently occupy much of Bill's photography time.  Birds are challenging due to the cumbersome equipment and difficult subject matter which push the limits of both physical stamina, photographic technique and intimate knowledge of birds’ habits and habitats.

Bill's warbler photo trek began in late April, 2017 and concluded early in June traveling off and on with two of his great friends and superb fellow birder photographers and guides, Greg Lavaty and Wes Fritz. The result was forty five species and one hybrid captured on camera.  Come and enjoy the journey!!

Bill is a lifelong resident of the Chicago area, now residing in Vernon Hills.  He is a member of the North Shore Camera Club. In addition to bird photography his other interests are nature, off road camping and travel.

 

April 2.   Early Settlement along the Des Plaines River by Jenny Barry.

The native people of the northern Illinois area had been using the Des Plaines River as a travel route for ages when the land was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of 1833. Even before the land was surveyed and available for purchase, some hardy souls made their way west and north. As they moved into the area the Des Plaines River was a natural path to follow. Jenny Barry will also follow the river north as she profiles a few of those early settlers and marks the progress of settlement up the Des Plaines River. Pioneers Daniel Wright, Hiram Kennicott, Ransom & Richard Steele, George Vardin, Elconah Tingley, and Archimedes Wynkoop will be profiled.

Jenny Barry is a Local History Librarian for Cook Memorial Public Library District and current president of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society. She is a Libertyville native and holds a B.A. in History from Augustana College and a Masters of Library Science from Indiana University.

May 7.  Singing Insects by Carl Strang. 

The presentation will be an overview of the Chicago region's singing insects (cicadas, crickets, katydids, and 3 subfamilies of grasshoppers). Examples from the region's 100 species illustrate ecological diversity, several range expansions from the south, and conservation concerns, with both photos and sound recordings.

Carl Strang was a Naturalist with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for more than 34 years, providing programs, classes, and interpretive writings for children, families and teachers, before retiring in 2015. Carl holds a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from Purdue University, and taught biology for 5 years at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania before coming to the District. He has won awards from the Illinois Wildlife Federation, from the Chicago Audubon Society, and from the National Association for Interpretation. His current research is on the distribution and ecology of singing insects, and he is volunteer steward at St. James Farm Forest Preserve.