Review: A Study of the Birds of Sangamon County, Illinois 1970–2010

Previously I discussed the decision of the IUNC of moving the Turtle Dove from vulnerable to extinction in the mid-term and how it got me thinking about which of our Midwest birds might be endangered.

And when it comes to reading on-line articles I hardly ever read an article in its entirety.  I skim.  And I think that’s what most people do.

But I have read the first 30 pages of H. David Bohlen’s A Study of the Birds of Sangamon County, Illinois 1970–2010 at least 3 times in the last year and haven’t skimmed it once. That’s how good it is.

Study - Sangamon County

Most of the information I have about the status of birds in the Midwest comes from his study. There is also a second part with photos to support the first – “A Study of the Birds of Sangamon County, Illinois 1970–2010 Part 2“.

It summarizes his surveying the Greater Springfield, IL area for 40 years. If you study his charts you’ll see that for many years he was in the field over 350 days, 7 hours a day. He sums up his work in pages i-xxxv and then goes into the individual species accounts.

It’s an intriguing read that sums up what I think we all know is going on with birds in the Midwest. He lists species that are declining or gone and ones that have increased, in some cases dramatically, over the last 40 years.

While reading the article remember this really isn’t just about Sangamon County IL but any Midwest county that has grown over the last 50 years. I have only lived in Indiana for 3 years but I see the same results in the Greater Indianapolis area. Maybe not the exact species but close.

In particular read his METHODS starting on page xix and SPECIES ACCOUNTS starting on page xxv.

But most importantly read his CONCLUSIONS starting on page xxix. I know I haven’t read everything on conservation but his conclusions, especially the POSTSCRIPT, is the best summation of the current situation in the Midwest.

The Postscript describes the slow decrease of birds towards end of his study, the destruction of habitat, and the importance of preserves.

There is nothing I can add to his report.  He sums up the situation succinctly, if not somewhat depressingly.

I’ll come back to his study’s results when I discuss Indiana’s endangered species.


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