JWP Audubon sponsored programs for 2016 are listed below. All of the presentations will be held in room C101 at the Center for Natural Science (CNS), 201 Beecher Street, Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU), Bloomington, IL unless otherwise noted. Parking is available in the lot just north of the CNS on Beecher Street.
“The Use of Nest Boxes by Barn Owls in Illinois”
Dr. T. J. Benson, Illinois Natural History Survey biologist
Thursday, April 7, 2016; 7:00 p.m.
On April 7, at 7:00 p.m. in CNS C101, Dr. T. J. Benson, a biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, will give a talk on “The Use of Nest Boxes by Barn Owls in Illinois.” The barn owl was once a common nesting species in Illinois. However, declines in grassland habitat coupled with the loss of structures suitable for nesting led to the listing of the barn owl as a state endangered species. In an effort to increase barn owl populations, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and conservation organizations such as JWP Audubon have placed nest boxes for this species throughout the state. Dr. Benson and his students monitored these nest boxes over the past several years. Dr. Benson will discuss estimates of the breeding population of barn owls in Illinois and the landscape factors associated with their use of nest boxes.
Tom Ulrich, Nature Photography at IWU
Monday, March 28, 2016; 7:00 p.m.
This special presentation is hosted by the Illinois Wesleyan University Environmental Studies Program in Room C101 of the Center for Natural Sciences Building.*
Every year, Tom Ulrich makes a stop on his spring photo tour on behalf of Sugar Grove Nature Center, delighting his audience with amazing photographs and humorous narration. Mr. Ulrich, a highly acclaimed nature photographer, is celebrating forty years as a full time nature photographer! This year’s presentation, “Stock and What-Not,” will take us on a photographic journey of the past 40 years, featuring photos of nature from around the world as well as Glacier National Park in Montana where he resides. His narration includes insight on photo technique and animal behavior and is always riddled with humor. His work as been featured in National Geographic, National Wildlife, Time, Audubon, and many other publications. He has published several books, field guides, and calendars, presents photography workshops around the country and leads tours to remote parts of the world. Please join us on this spectacular photographic journey!
*The Center for Natural Sciences (CNS) Building at Illinois Wesleyan University is located at 201 Beecher, just east of Main Street. Parking is available just north of the CNS and east of the Hansen Student Center.
Fee: Members of Sugar Grove Nature Center $5/adult, $2/children under 12; Non-Members $7/adult, $3/children under 12; College & University students, free with ID. No registration required, program fee will be collected at the door.
On Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in room CNS C101 at IWU, Bill Kleiman, the Nachusa Grasslands Project Director with The Nature Conservancy, will give a talk on “How the bison came back: staff, volunteer stewards and scientists restore natural communities at Nachusa Grasslands.” In 1986 The Nature Conservancy acquired 400 acres of small prairie remnants scattered among cornfields in northern Illinois. Today Nachusa Grasslands comprises some 3100 acres of restored and reconstructed prairie, and it is home to 700 native plant species, 180 species of birds — and now wild bison. Bison were reintroduced in October 2014 to maintain the biodiversity of the prairie by their natural grazing behavior. The first bison calves were born in April of this year. Bill will discuss the ongoing restoration efforts at Nachusa that have been recognized as among the best in the country.
On Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in room CNS C101 at IWU, Patrick McDonald, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), will give a talk on “Fishing for Success: Restoring Illinois’ Ospreys.” The osprey, a large raptorial bird well known for its ability to capture live fish, is a state-endangered species in Illinois. The IDNR is in the third year of an eight-year project to re-establish the osprey as a nesting species in the state by bringing in and releasing young ospreys from other states. Patrick will discuss the natural history of ospreys, their current status in Illinois, previous recovery attempts, and the current efforts to establish a self-sustaining breeding population in Illinois.
On Monday, February 2, 2015 at 7 p.m. in CNS C101, Bob Gillespie, of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will talk on “Foot Stamping and Booming! Prairie Chickens in Illinois.” The Greater Prairie Chicken is an iconic bird of the tallgrass prairies that once covered much of Illinois. Male prairie chickens are well known for their springtime courtship rituals in which they stamp their feet and emit a booming sound to attract females. Their population in Illinois once numbered in the millions but they are now found only in the Prairie Ridge State Natural Area. Over the past several years their population had declined to about 60 birds. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Illinois Audubon Society have embarked on a multi-year project to revitalize the Illinois prairie chicken population by translocating 300 birds from Kansas. Bob Gillespie, who is coordinating the current recovery project for the IDNR, will talk about the restoration efforts for this fascinating grassland bird.
On Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in CNS C101, Doug Blodgett, Director for River Conservation for the Illinois Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, will give a presentation on “The Nature Conservancy’s Emiquon Project: Restoring Functional Floodplain for Nature and People.” The 6,600-acre Emiquon preserve once was among the biologically richest wetlands in North America. However, the lakes and wetlands were converted into farmland for most of the 20th century, which isolated the area from the Illinois River. In spring 2007, after seven years of science-based planning, The Nature Conservancy turned off the pumps that had dried out the land since the 1920s. Within months water reappeared in the historic lakebeds and native plants returned from their seeds that had lain dormant for years. More than 260 bird species have been documented at the preserve, with peak one-day waterfowl populations approaching 200,000. Emiquon is the premiere demonstration site for The Nature Conservancy’s work within the Upper Mississippi River system, and ultimately it will help guide large floodplain river restoration efforts around the world. The next phase of restoration at Emiquon will be the installation of a water management structure that will provide a connection between the wetland and the Illinois River, facilitating the water control needed to sustain these high-quality habitats long term. Doug will give a presentation on the Emiquon Preserve and discuss the science behind the planned reconnection to the Illinois River.
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. in CNS C101 JWP Audubon will co-sponsor a presentation with the Sugar Grove Nature Center by renowned nature photographer Tom Ulrich. Tom will take us on a photographic journey in the life of a wildlife photographer in 2014, and this year’s focus will include the birds of Ecuador, bird migration in Texas, and the spectacular wildlife and landscapes of Glacier National Park in Montana. He dazzles his audiences with amazing photographs, tips for photographers and humorous narration. Tom’s work has been featured in National Geographic, National Wildlife, Time, Audubon, and many other publications. Fees for admission: Members of Sugar Grove Nature Center - $5/adult, $2/children under 12; Non-Members - $7/adult, $3/children under 12; university students are free with an ID.