Annemarie Rand featured by Bird Conservation Network

The Bird Conservation Network interviewed Annemarie Rand, Ronan Park Trail friend and bird observer, last September. The story is posted this month at their website, which is the reporting site for Chicago-area bird monitors. Check it out. You’ll no doubt be amazed at how many different birds have been sighted along the river and trail. Some great pictures, too. Thanks to Annemarie and BCN!


First Bird Report of 2011

thanks to Annemarie Rand for this latest bird report:

This past Mother’s Day was a wonderful day to walk the Ronan Park Trail and bird watch. Spring is in full swing and the birds were out in full force.

For me, the most exciting thing about watching birds in Spring are the wood warblers (Family Parulidae). I just can’t get enough of them. There’s a reason they are called the jewels of the bird world. If you are walking the trail and see tiny, brightly colored birds flitting through the trees, chances are you are looking at a warbler. Be warned though, they don’t stay still for very long. They are tiny and fast. Since they are insect eaters, they are in seemingly continuous motion as they fly about, catching insects. Some species like to be very high up in the trees. There’s a “condition” that birders joke about called “warbler-neck” which consists of having a sore neck due to having your head tilted back to watch warblers for a long time. They are so fascinating that it is well worth it to have a sore neck for a little while! Other species spend time closer to the ground. On this trip I saw Magnolia Warblers, American Redstarts, a Black-and-White Warbler, a Yellow Warbler, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, a Nashville Warbler, a Common Yellowthroat and a Northern Waterthrush. The Common Yellowthroat and the Northern Waterthrush actually spend time low to the ground on the bank of the river. This was the first time I saw a Northern Waterthrush, so I was thrilled! We are so fortunate to have the river here as a draw for the birds as they journey north. Most wood warblers are just migrating through and don’t nest here, so if you are interested in seeing some of these little gems I suggest you get out to the trail sometime this month. I could go on and on about warblers, but should probably report the other birds seen on my trip.

Sparrows: White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow. White-crowned Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows are just passing through. You’ve probably heard them in the neighborhood for a couple of weeks now.
Herons: Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron.

Canada Geese (2 adults and 10 chicks!), Mallards, dozens of Chimney Swifts, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, American Robins, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Black-capped Chickadee, Alder Flycatcher, American Goldfinch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Warbling Vireo, Herring Gull.

Still no sign of Red-headed Woodpeckers, yet. Anyone who has read my previous reports knows that the Red-headed Woodpecker is a species we’d love to have nest at Ronan Park again. (They nested in a dead tree along the river in 2008.)

I strongly urge anyone who enjoys the Ronan Park Trail to fit a little bird watching into your time there. You really don’t need any fancy equipment to do this. An inexpensive pair of binoculars and a field guide would be great if you are just getting started. Sometimes you can find decent binoculars at a great price at resale shops. There are some field guides made specifically for beginners. It’s wonderful to get children involved too. It’s never too late to get the next generation interested and involved in the things we love about nature, our park, and our community.

So until next time, good birding to all of you!

Annemarie Rand
Bird Monitor for Ronan and Legion Parks

Ronan in the Habitat Herald

The wish made earlier this summer by our birding buddy (and blog contributor!) Annemarie Rand has come true:  Ronan’s been mentioned in the Audubon – Chicago Region’s Habitat Herald newsletter, September issue.

Classified as a Priority 1 Birds of Concern species in the Chicago
Wilderness Region, Red-heads (woodpeckers) are now beneficiaries of focused, species-specific
habitat management efforts. That focus and attention may be paying
early dividends, based on the observations of bird monitors and site stewards
throughout the CW Region. According to bird monitor Annemarie Rand,
Red-headed Woodpeckers nested and successfully fledged young at Ronan
Park in 2008, after the Chicago Park District carried out restoration work
(removing invasive underbrush from the river’s banks but leaving the dead
trees) along the North Branch of the Chicago River, bordered on both sides
by this small ‘linear’ park on the city’s north side.

Green Picnic

THE GREEN PICNIC happens Saturday, August 21st, from Noon to 4pm at Ronan Park.  Let’s have a neighborhood picnic and get acquainted.  Bring your picnic basket!  We’ll have information about how we can save money while saving the planet.  We’ve invited local businesses, NEIU Green Cycle Club, and city agencies to share ideas about sustainable living.


Bird Report

Thanks to Annemarie Rand for these reports from the trail…

June 5, 2010

It seems as if the populations of American Robins, Mallards, Canada Geese, European Starlings and Common Grackles will be strong this summer. I did see a Northern Flicker in a nest hole, a Red-eyed Vireo, a Warbling Vireo, and an Eastern Wood PeWee (love their song!).

There was a Belted Kingfisher flying up and down the river, Cedar Waxwings up in the trees, Chimney Swifts making themselves heard high in the sky, and a Song Sparrow singing his little heart out. Barn Swallows are flying near the old Pumping Station. I also saw a Downy Woodpecker and a Northern Cardinal.

No Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen. I’m really hoping to see them this summer. Maybe next visit!

June 16, 2010

Wow, what a morning!

I saw five (yes, 5!) Black-crowned Night Herons at once on the river bank or on low limbs of trees. It’s exciting that they are doing so well here. I also saw a Green Heron fishing along the bank and a Great Blue Heron fishing along another area of the bank. It’s great so see all of the different types of herons! The Mallards are doing well. I didn’t see as many Canada Geese as expected. They may be at a different part of the river.

The American Robins, Common Grackles, European Starlings, Barn Swallows and Chimney Swifts are doing well. There were many of each of those species.

I saw two Baltimore Orioles, some Downy woodpeckers, an American Crow, a Common Yellowthroat, an Eastern Phoebe, a couple of American Goldfinches and Northern Cardinals, an Ovenbird, a Song Sparrow, and a Warbling Vireo.

Even though there were many species out and about at sunrise this morning, I’m disappointed that there are no Red-headed Woodpeckers. I was really hoping that after seeing them nest in the dead trees in the summer of 2008 that they would be back. I see that the European Starlings have taken the nest holes this year. The European Starling is the Red-headed Woodpecker’s largest competitor for nesting holes. There’s really nothing we can do about that. It is crucial that the dead trees stay up along the river there to encourage the Red-headed Woodpeckers to come back. They nested there once with the European Starlings nearby, they can do it again! I haven’t given up hope that they will be back someday.

July 19, 2010

Last night, I was interviewed over the phone by a man named Bob Fisher who is writing an article for the next issue of the Habitat Herald. He wanted to know my observations/impression of how Red-headed Woodpeckers are doing as related to habitat restoration. He was given my name by the wonderful Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon-Chicago Region, Judy Pollock, because I have seen nesting Red-headeds at Ronan Park in the past. It was great to talk to Mr. Fisher about Ronan Park and the wonderful improvements that are happening there. Even though I didn’t have the best report for him (about not seeing Red-headed Woodpeckers at Ronan for two summers now), I let him know that I’m not giving up hope. He agreed that I (and we) shouldn’t. This is what part of habitat restoration and conservation is about. We must continue to be diligent with our care of Ronan Park and we will definitely reap the rewards as will the wildlife that we care so much about. So here’s hoping that Ronan Park is mentioned in the next Habitat Herald!

Got Spurge?

Zhanna Yermakov, Natural Areas Manager at the Chicago Park District sent this alert last week:

leafy spurge aggressively invasive

…we have found leafy spurge at Ronan. It’s a very aggressive weed that is difficult to eradicate because the seeds are viable in the soil for 8 years and it resprouts very well and more aggressive when it is handpulled. No mechanical controls have been proven effective. We are trying to figure out what chemical method to use best and will treat it ASAP. It will likely come back year after year and we’ll need to keep an eye out for it from now on. If you see any patches, please let us know. Thanks.

If anyone finds anyone wants to have a look for this, and finds it, let me know and i’ll pass it on to zhanna. thanks!

UPDATE… just looked it up here. this is really nasty. reproduces from seeds and roots. the latter can get to 15 feet deep. can grow as dense as 1800 stems per square yard.

Rainy Workday

We got a small window to work in last Saturday, and even that was rather damp. Three of us lasted something just more than an hour in the drizzle between rains, opting for trash pickup — probably one FULL bag in all — instead of spreading wet, heavy mulch. Might have to let the contractors deal with the last of the mulch, with plenty left for one short section of unmulched trail and then the trees in the main park.

Total volunteers: 3. Total vol hours: 3.