a small sparrow sings from the top of a flower
Henslow’s Sparrow by Woody Goss/Macaulay Library.

Breeding birds are doing largest in the Chicago region than the rest of Illinois, equal to a decades-long survey of the regions natural areas conducted by a local conservation coalition.

The six counties in and virtually the Windy City host over 100 nesting bird species, and increasingly than half (56%) of those species are stable or increasing virtually Chicagoland. Elsewhere in Illinois, only 37% of those species are on similar trajectories.

When you think of an zone thats increasingly ripened like Chicago, people tend to think youre not going to see as many birds there as you would in increasingly rural places, said Eric Secker, president of the Bird Conservation Network, the collaboration of 21 organizations (including American Bird Conservancy and the Illinois Audubon Society) that conducted and published the study.

The birds here are doing largest considering of the fact that plane though its a suburban and urban area, theres a lot increasingly areas that are protected and preserved.

Across Illinois, only 4% of total land is preserved in the form of public and private parks, land trusts, or easements. But 9.5% of land in the Chicago zone is protected for wildlife in county preserves and state parks. That includes a lot of managed grasslands, and grassland birds virtually Chicago responded with population increases that whippersnapper national trends.

For example, Henslows Sparrowsa tallgrass prairie species that has declined nationally over the last 50 yearsincreased in the survey zone by over 3% every year since 1999. Equal to Secker, the species is responding well to prescribed burns and grassland management at Chicago-area preserves, such as Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve and Nelson Lake Marsh Nature Preserve.

In no place in the world will you find a greater concentration of Henslows Sparrows than in northeastern Illinois, widow Jim Herkert, former executive director of the Illinois Audubon Society. It is a globally important landscape for this bird. See Henslow’s Sparrow zillions mapped in increasingly detail via eBird Status and Trends.

close-up of a woodpecker with a unexceptionable red throne and long gray bill
Red-headed Woodpecker numbers are in a long-term ripen wideness their range, but are increasing in the Chicago area. Photographed in Cook County, Illinois, by Shirley Pulgar Hughes/Macaulay Library.

Chicago-area birds were doing well in other habitats, too. Well-nigh 60% of species in woodlands were either stable or increasingincluding Red-headed Woodpecker, a bird that has declined by 67% globally since 1970 but doubled its population in the survey zone since 1999. Secker said that constructive management of oak savanna woodlands helped the woodpeckers.

Some birds, however, didnt show increases virtually Chicago. The regional Bobolink population shrank by scrutinizingly 3% each year over the undertow of the study, which is an plane steeper waif than the national trend for the species (but still less severe than Bobolink declines in the rest of Illinois).

Its definitely challenging to manage for a whole suite of species considering what helps one could go the opposite for another, Secker said. Still, the Bird Conservation Network is searching for solutions to goody the whole polity of grassland birds, such as a hedgerow removal project that will create first-hand grassland habitat.

The study relied on hundreds of volunteers to monitor the regions natural lands over two decades. The final wringer included nearly 30,000 surveys from over 2,000 sites, with all that data managed via a collaboration with a Cornell Lab of Ornithology eBird customized data management platform.

Benjamin Hacks work on this story as a student editorial teammate was made possible by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Science Communications Fund, with support from Jay Branegan (Cornell 72) and Stefania Pittaluga.