2024 Annual Gathering
Field Trips Guided by
Red Hill Birding
Registration Deadline April 19, 2024
Lodging Available at Savanna Inn & Suites
A block of rooms will be available until May 9, mention “Illinois Audubon Society” when booking
101 Valley View Road, Savanna, Illinois 61074
King ($163 + tax/night) and 2-Queen ($173+tax/night) Cost of room includes breakfast
Saturday Banquet Guest Speaker:
Dr. James D. Paruk
James D. Paruk is one of the world’s leading experts on the Common Loon. Paruk has studied breeding and wintering loons in several states and Canada for 30 years. He recently wrote a book entitled, Loon Lessons: Uncommon Encounters with the Great Northern Diver published by the University of Minnesota Press. The book provides the most current detailed account of what we know about loon biology, behavior, and conservation. Currently, he is a Professor of Biology at St. Joseph’s College, in Maine.
Join us this spring in the northwest part of the state – an area well-known for spotting spring migrants. Red Hill Birding will lead field trips to Mississippi Palisades State Park, Lost Mound National Wildlife Refuge, Ayres Sand Prairie, Spring Lake and other spots along the river. On Friday night we are offering an optional late evening birding at Lost Mound National Wildlife Refuge as we wait for sunset to listen for–and hopefully see–Eastern Whip-poor wills.
After a great day of birding on Saturday, join in on some early evening activities including the Natural History 480 and a Trivia Quiz. A lecture on loons and a banquet will complete the evening.
Field Trip Options for the 2024 Annual Gathering
Option #1: Friday Night Field Trip, Saturday Field Trip and Saturday Banquet
Friday May, 10, 6 – 9:00 p.m.
Evening birding at Lost Mound National Wildlife Refuge and choice of Saturday Field Trip A, B or C
Cost: $140, includes guided field trips, lunch, water, snacks and Saturday night banquet
Option #2: Saturday Field Trip and Saturday Banquet
Saturday, May 11, 6 -11:30 a.m.
All trips originate and end at the Savanna Inn and Suites
Cost: $110, includes guided field trip, lunch, water, snacks and Saturday night banquet
Option #3: Saturday Night Activities, Program and Banquet Only
Saturday, May 11, 3:30 pm.
Field Trip Descriptions
Saturday Field Trip A: Start at Lost Mound, then go to Mississippi Palisades
The group will meet at the Lost Mounds Visitors Center and set out from there to explore the refuge’s prairies and woods. This is a great place to find grassland birds that are uncommon in Illinois, like Western Meadowlark, Blue Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow, and Bell’s Vireo. More common birds include Orchard Oriole, Grasshopper Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, and Eastern Meadowlark. The woods along the Mississippi River bluffs can be excellent for migrants given the right conditions, so we will visit that area as well to look for migrant warblers, thrushes, vireos, and others.
By about 9:30 we will be ready to move on and will head to Mississippi Palisades State Park for the remainder of the morning. Although the early morning birdsong will have subsided, breeding species will still be singing, giving us a chance to look for Cerulean and Kentucky Warbler, among others. And of course, we could still encounter roving groups of migrants.
Saturday Field Trip B: Start at Mississippi Palisades, then go to Lost Mound
Setting out from the hotel, we will start the morning in the beautiful forest of Mississippi Palisades State Park. The early morning birdsong will greet our ears, and in addition to migrants passing through, could include breeding species like Cerulean, Kentucky and Yellow-throated Warblers, Louisiana Waterthrush, Wood Thrush, and many others. We could find other breeding birds like Pileated Woodpecker, Broad-winged Hawk, Summer Tanager, Hooded Warbler, and with a bit of luck we will encounter some groups of migrants as well.
By about 9:30 we will be ready to move on and will head to Lost Mound for the remainder of the morning. We will focus on finding prairie birds that don’t occur in Mississippi Palisades, like Western Meadowlark, Blue Grosbeak, Lark and Grasshopper Sparrows, and Bell’s Vireo.
Saturday Field Trip C: Mississippi Palisades, Ayres Sand Prairie, and Lock & Dam 13
Setting out from the hotel, we will start the morning in the beautiful forest of Mississippi Palisades State Park. We will spend a couple of hours here before looking for breeding species like Cerulean, Kentucky, and Yellow-throated Warblers, and hopefully finding some migrants as well. After a couple of hours, we will start making our way south along the river. We will stop at Ayres Sand Prairie and the adjacent Tri-Township Airport to look for Loggerhead Shrike, one of the few places where the species hangs on in northern Illinois. From there, we will visit Lock & Dam 13, where migrant ducks sometimes linger into May, migrant terns forage over the wetlands, Common Gallinule and Sandhill Crane breed, and Eurasian Tree Sparrows are resident.