Thirteen young birders and several family members joined guest leader, Andrew Aldrich, for a trip to Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River on Sunday, March 5th. Despite having been hit recently by a tornado, the surrounding area was as scenic as ever and there were plenty of birds to keep us occupied.
We met at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam Visitor’s Center and scoped the Illinois River. A couple of Bald Eagles were perched on the far shore and one immature eagle flew down river. From our vantage point, we could see hundreds of American White Pelicans huddled together near the shallow pools and islands that dot the river bed. A large flock of Scaup flew overhead as well.
From there, we went to the opposite side of the river, Starved Rock State Park. Several species were visiting the bird feeders including Red-headed, Red-bellied, and Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-capped Chickadees, and Tufted Titmice. We hiked up to the lookout and on our way, we all heard and a few of us saw Carolina Wren and Fox Sparrows and a Pileated Woodpecker flew by. From our vantage point a top the sandstone cliffs, we could see a great distance up river and Golden-crowned Kinglets called in the surrounding junipers. Andrew spotted an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk on the opposite shore. The kids got to study the key field marks of this tricky to ID species. A few kids had a brief look at Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
We then moved further up river to Lone Point Shelter. From this vantage point, we spotted several species of ducks including Mallard, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Black Duck, Green-winged and a few early Blue-winged Teal.
We decided to cross the street afterward and hike up Illinois Canyon. While it wasn’t birdy, the scenery was fantastic. We ended a very successful day at about noon with 44 species having been observed.