The Chicago Wilderness Grassland Bird Blitz:
In 2003 and 2004, eighty people counted the birds at more than 120 grasslands throughout the Chicago Wilderness region. This Grassland Bird Blitz collected data that tells us the status and distribution of grassland birds on a region-wide scale. By putting a special emphasis on grasslands, we added 70 sites to the existing list of annually monitored grasslands, giving us a strong data set with which to assess the status of the birds that depend on this habitat.
Grassland birds are a top priority of Chicago Wilderness because of their global rarity and dramatic declines in the last century. Our region has some of the largest and best-protected habitats for these birds. In 2003 and 2004, monitors counted 1,653 bobolinks (the most recorded species of this study), 457 Grasshopper sparrows, 258 Henslow’s sparrows, and three Northern Harriers. They found 12 grassland species (out of 18 that historically have occurred here) in ten counties.