Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Red-headed woodpecker at Skokie Lagoons

We just got word from the Skokie Lagoons volunteer bird monitoring team - Linda G., Mary Lou M., and Dolph W. - that a red-headed woodpecker has been spotted visiting a nest hole at the Skokie Lagoons. This handsome woodpecker is classified as a bird of high regional and national importance because it has experienced major population declines due to lack of appropriate breeding habitat. This fine specimen was seen in a meadow area near Tower Road where volunteers have been clearing invasive brush for several years.

photo courtesy of bird monitor Mary Lou

The hard work done by habitat restoration volunteers in clearing the meadow of buckthorn and other overgrowth created a perfect nesting area for this important species, which is known to prefer recently cleared areas and dead barkless trees for nesting. It's hoped that the pair were successful in fledging their young and that they will come back next year. This is a big feather in your cap, volunteers!

UPDATE: Judy from Audubon - Chicago Region informs me that the red-headed woodpecker pair at the Skokie Lagoons is believed to be the only pair currently nesting anywhere in the forest preserves along the North Branch of the Chicago River in Cook County. This makes their presence that much more exciting!