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Wild About Birds - Illinois Species of Concern

​“Species of concern” refers to species that may be in need of conservation actions based upon current research. The actions vary due to the type of threat and health of the populations and may include monitoring the populations, threats and habitats; presenting a proposal to list the species as threatened or endangered; or other actions. Species of concern are not legally protected by the Endangered Species Act or the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act unless they are also listed as threatened or endangered by the appropriate entity (federal, state or both) though all birds are afforded some protections by other state and federal laws. The 25 species depicted on the poster were selected by Jeff Walk of The Nature Conservancy to represent the birds in greatest need of conservation in Illinois.

 Species List and Gallery

A few of the species on the poster only visit the state during migration or winter here. The American golden-plover may have more than half of its worldwide population in a few eastern Illinois counties as it passes through in migration. Identifying a species as one of concern can help underscore the need for data collection, increase public awareness, encourage cooperative research efforts and promote voluntary efforts to conserve the species.

​Forest
     eastern whip-poor-will Caprimulgus vociferus
     Kentucky warbler Geothlypis formosus
     wood thrush Hylocichla mustelina

Grassland
     bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus
     Henslow’s sparrow Centronyx henslowii
     loggerhead shrike Lanius ludovicianus [state endangered]
     upland sandpiper Bartramia longicauda [state endangered]

Open
     American golden-plover Pluvialis dominica

Shrub/Savanna
     Bewick’s wren Thryomanes bewickii [state endangered]
     brown thrasher Toxostoma rufum
     northern bobwhite Colinus virginianus
     northern flicker Colaptes auratus
     prairie warbler Setophaga discolor
     red-headed woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus
     yellow-billed cuckoo Coccyzus americanus

Water/Wetland
     bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
     common gallinule Gallinula galeata [state endangered]
     king rail Rallus elegans [state endangered]
     least tern Sternula antillarum [state and federally endangered]
     lesser scaup Aythya affinis
     little blue heron Egretta caerulea [state endangered]
     marsh wren Cistothorus palustris
     sandhill crane Grus canadensis
     willow flycatcher Empidonax trailli
     yellow-headed blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus [state endangered]

 Taking Action

Habitats provide food, water, shelter and space for species. A good habitat must have all of these components and in the proper configuration. Habitat loss and degradation are the two main factors causing species decline. If a habitat is eliminated or altered to make it unsuitable for a species, then members of that species must die, seek out and find a new habitat or survive as best they can with habitats that may be very marginal. Even habitat alteration in other parts of the world can have effects on birds that live in Illinois. Those species that migrate for the winter or return to areas north of Illinois for nesting can be seriously impacted by changes in their migratory routes and homes. Other factors affecting bird species are competition from invasive species, historically low populations due to being on the edge of the species’ range, habitat fragmentation and human actions/inactions. Humans are the main cause for habitat loss and degradation. Humans, however, can be the solution to these issues.

The following ideas are practical steps that you can take to help conserve migratory bird species.

Participate in International Migratory Bird Day, held on the second Saturday in May, to educate others about migratory birds.

Write to state and national elected representatives to voice your concern over the plight of migratory birds.

Contact local environmental organizations or chapters of national organizations, such as the Illinois Audubon Society, to find out what they are doing about the issue.

Contact local representatives and parks personnel to learn about local land-use issues. Find out how you can learn about impor-tant local hearings, to provide public input on land-use decisions.

Conduct a school- or district-wide “Migratory Bird Day” to educate others in your school district about birds.

Take field trips to observe birds and contribute observations about bird populations to bird censuses or counts.

Plant native trees in appropriate places to increase bird habitat.

Take steps to reduce, reuse and recycle paper.

Plant a butterfly garden to provide habitat that supports insects that birds feed on.

Donate money to land preservation efforts.

Educate others about the dangers to birds from feral cats.

Leave snags and fallen trees in wood lots to provide habitat for birds and the insects they feed upon.

 Agency Resources

​More information about Illinois wood-warblers is available from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The Division of Natural Heritage manages and monitors bird populations. Natural Heritage personnel also provide assistance to landowners regarding establishing and maintaining bird habitat. The IDNR Division of Education provides supplemental resources for educators to use, including the Illinois Common Birds activity book, (click here for the Spanish version), Illinois Birds resources trunk that is available for loan from more than 70 lending locations statewide, Field Trip Packs for early childhood educators and the Biodiversity of Illinois search page lists more than 1,000 species in the state. Wood Projects for Illinois Wildlife is an IDNR booklet that includes plans for nesting boxes that are used by some warblers. Publications are available through the publications page.

The Illinois Audubon Society’s mission is to promote the perpetuation and appreciation of the native flora and fauna of Illinois and the habitats that support them. Fundamental to this end are the control of pollution, the conservation of energy and all natural resources, a sound ecological relationship between human populations and their environments and the education and involvement of the public in such efforts.