The Springfield Audubon Society and the Stewards at Adams Wildlife Sanctuary would like to extend our thanks to all of you who supported the Sanctuary Stewardship Appeal by the Illinois Audubon Society.

We are pleased to announce that we have taken delivery on a new UTV (Utility Transport Vehicle).

We have only had it available for one workday and it has already made a dramatic difference in what we can accomplish.

We would also like to thank Paul Biggers for his donation of a new STIHL chainsaw to the Sanctuary. It has already been put to use cutting down a large tree that was a danger to the trails.

In addition, we would like to thank Allen Andrews for his donation of a large water tank which allows us to more efficiently water all the new trees and shrubs.

The Sanctuary Stewardship Appeal is still ongoing so if you have not yet donated please consider making a donation.

Don’t forget our program on Thursday evening at 7 pm at the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary. Dr. Travis Wilcoxen will present the results of a study on lead concentrations in birds. While most research of lead toxicity in birds has been directed towards scavenger species and the role of lead ammunition in poisoning, his research reveals that this problem extends well beyond scavengers. Dr. wilcoxen's presentation will explore the threat of lead poisoning to different species of birds, potential sources of poisoning, and potential remedies for the problem.
Come join us for this interesting presentation on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary.
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5 days ago

Springfield Audubon Society

This is a fantastic course and highly-recommended.Great opportunity to learn more about birds, their habitats and behaviors. See contact info at bottom of flyer for more info!! ... See MoreSee Less

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Project FeederWatch is a winter-long (November-April) survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. The program is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studiesof Canada.

We have a dedicated group of volunteers who meet every Wednesday to count species and numbers of birds visiting the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary feeders. These data are forwarded to Project FeederWatch and help scientists track long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

We are fortunate to have Wild Birds Unlimited generously donate the seed that we use to fill our feeders at Adams. This wonderful business also provides a donation to our Audubon Chapter with every purchase made at their store by a member of the Springfield Audubon Chapter.

Please be sure to tell Wade and his staff ‘thanks’ the next time you visit Wild Birds Unlimited. And come by the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary on Wednesday mornings to see our volunteers in action and to help them count the birds at our feeders!
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Don't forget to get your tickets for the Owl Prowl Friday evening!

The Owl Prowl is an annual, much-loved event held each October at the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary. The Illinois Raptor Center presents an informative and enjoyable program on our native owls. Jacques Nuzzo and Jane Seitz will start off the evening with an indoor presentation to describe and review the different owls that we have in Illinois. They will then lead us on a hike in woods where they will present some live captive owls from their rehabilitation center for us to see up close.
This is always a great program and is enjoyed by kids as well as adults (not for children under 5). Dress for the weather and be prepared to walk some short distances on unpaved dark trails. Refreshments will be served at the closing of the program. Space is limited and tickets are available online only, at $10 per person, $5 for children 6 to 12 years. Go to the Illinois Audubon website at illinoisaudubon.org/fieldtrip to purchase tickets.
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3 weeks ago

Springfield Audubon Society

“The Secret Lives of Sandhill Cranes”

Dr. Matt Hayes gave a very interesting presentation at our most recent Audubon meeting. Matt, as he asked to be referred to, is currently in a post doc position at University of Illinois at Springfield, working on projects involving Franklin’s ground squirrels and osprey. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Eastern Illinois University, a Master’s degree in Biology from University of South Dakota, and a doctorate degree from University of Wisconsin at Madison. During his doctoral program, he worked very closely with the International Crane Foundation.

The International Crane Foundation (ICF), a non-profit conservation organization with a goal of conserving cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend, is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The ICF was founded in 1973 and is situated on 250-acre property that includes live crane exhibits with 15 crane species, a visitor center, breeding facilities, a research library and nature trails. The founders envisioned an organization that would combine research, captive breeding and reintroduction, landscape restoration, and education to safeguard the world’s 15 crane species. Matt has been a research associate with the International Crane Foundation since 1999.

There are fifteen species of cranes distributed on five of the seven continents. There are no cranes in South America or Antarctica, and there are six in Africa, six in Asia, one in Australia, and two in North America. Matt feels that cranes are special to humans. We see some of ourselves in cranes, which are often seen in pairs. It is always moving to watch them as they sing and dance to one another.

Cranes often congregate in huge numbers. A half million Sandhill cranes move through South Dakota twice each year. Matt suggested that if we had never witnessed this natural wonder, that we should most definitely put this trip on our bucket lists. The spring season is best. One can rent a blind to sit amongst the cranes and this is a wondrous experience. The sound is indescribable. The Sandhills intermingle amongst snow geese, white-fronted geese, and Cacklers, and if one is lucky, there might be a few Whoopers present.

How in the world do you catch a crane? Young birds are caught by “running them down”. A young crane does not fledge until about 70 days of age, and by 5 – 10 weeks, their legs are large enough to retain an adult-sized leg band. For mature birds, corn is spiked with a tranquilizer.

Two types of leg bands are used. On one leg, a large yellow band with a 3 digit number is placed. On the contra lateral leg, a series of small colored bands are placed (the series and numbers of different colors sometimes allows identification from a distance too great to read the number on the other band). These bands are, of course, very lightweight and cause no duress to the birds.

Matt’s dissertation involved a collaborative project with ICF to study the demographics of Sandhills in an area with a high density of cranes. Southeastern Wisconsin has a diversity of different habitats which benefit the cranes, including agricultural areas for feeding and marshlands for breeding and resting. Within this area are the territories of individual breeding pairs of cranes, and surrounding these individual pair territories are the common areas in which the non-breeding, non-territorial birds reside. Breeding pairs are very territorial.

Sandhills produce an average of 1.8 eggs per nest. In 328 broods studied over 22 years, 302 were comprised of one chick, 117 had two chicks, and there were 11 broods with three chicks. Only about one third of the chicks survive to fledging, but if they do fledge, they tend to have long survivability. It is not known for certain, but it is estimated that Sandhill cranes live to 20 or 30 years of age. A pair has been tracked since 1993, when they were first banded as adults of an unknown age. They have remained paired and active breeders for the last 25 years.

Cranes tend to have extended survivability in captivity and this is not reflective of their lifespan in the wild. A Siberian crane was held in a German zoo, without a mate, for over 60 years. He would build nests and place several large rocks within it in his frustrated efforts to breed and reproduce. He was transported to Wisconsin when he was in his early 70’s, introduced to and penned with a female, and became a father for the first time at 70+ years of age. He died at a ripe old age 83 years.

It is commonly romanticized that cranes mate for life. However, while 90% of all bird species are considered to be monogamous, male fidelity is highly variable between different species. There is a difference between social monogamy and genetic monogamy in the avian world!

Cranes do not mate for life. They will readily re-pair if they lose their partner. In addition, established pairs will sometimes succumb to the influences of interlopers trying to steal an individual way from its mate. These pairs are referred to as ‘divorced’.

Genetic studies of 105 chicks revealed that 90% matched the DNA of both their dam and their sire. However, 3% of the chicks didn’t match their father, 2% didn’t match their mother, and 5% didn’t match either parent!

119 banded pairs studied on 67 territories showed that pair bonds average 4.1 years in length, although the range was broad, from 1 – 21 years. 49% ended due to the death of an individual in the pair, 30% ended in divorce.

Breeding dispersal was also studied. The average dispersal of the adult from its natal site was found to be a mere 0.9 km. The home range for one year old birds is rather large, but as they age into adulthood, most return closer to the area in which they were hatched and raised. Natal dispersal has been determined to be 5.6 km on average, with males dispersing an average of 2.2 km and female an average of 10.7 km.

Non-territorial birds have a strong natal philopatry, meaning that cranes tend to return to or remain near the area where they were hatched and raised. They may wander further when they are young, but as they age, their philopatry increases, and they tend to return closer to their natal territory.

Resightings of banded birds on breeding areas in south central Wisconsin suggested a strong natal philopatry with some long-distance dispersal. However, when DNA analyses were conducted, it was seen that cranes from breeding sites very far apart were being put into the same genetic group. Very few genetic groups contained cranes from only one breeding site. It was concluded that this population was still showing effects of the demographic bottleneck which occurred in the 1930’s, when the populations were at their lowest.

We have learned that the breeding system of the Sandhill Crane is complex. Mate fidelity is high, but mate changes occur in most pairs. After leaving parents, individuals typically stay close, but rare dispersals are important for mediating genetic exchange and re-colonization.

Matt closed his talk by briefly reviewing the population dynamics of Sandhills in Illinois. Before the 1930’s, Sandhill cranes were very common in the northern third of the state. By 2011, however, the range included only the very northern part of the state. They are now starting to expand back out and are beginning to re-use former areas, and Matt expects their range to continue to expand.

Jasper-Pulaski State Fish and Wildlife Area in southern Indiana is a fantastic place to observe large numbers of Sandhill cranes. The fall is a better time to see them vs. the spring. DNR has a website which posts a daily count ( www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3091.htm ) .

Lastly, Matt asked us to report any sightings of banded cranes at www.savingcranes.com .

This was a most enjoyable presentation and we wish to extend our deepest appreciation to Dr. Matt Hayes.

N. Primm, 10/22/18
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Upcoming Events!


Adams Wildlife Workdays
Thursdays ~ 9am to 11am

Hosted by Friends of the Sangamon Valley
Work gloves and boots recommended, all other equipment provided.
544.2473 ~ Adams Wildlife Sanctuary

3rd Thursday Program ~ October 18th

Adams Wildlife Sanctuary

7 pm Program

Matt Hayes University of Illinois – Springfield

Matt earned a degree in 2015 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying sandhill crane behavior and population genetics.
He will be speaking on the “Secret Lives of Sandhill Cranes.” 
Come hear what we’ve learned about sandhill crane behavior and demography after observing them for more than 20 years.

Owl Prowl ~  Friday, October 26 – 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Adams Wildlife Sanctuary Presented by Illinois Raptor Center.

Observe and learn about these fascinating nocturnal creatures during an indoor presentation followed by a night hike on the trails of Adams Wildlife Sanctuary. View Illinois owls up close and learn about their natural history. Hike will be on unpaved trails, dress for the weather. Not recommended for children 5 and under. Refreshments will be served after the hike.
Seating is limited.
$10 for Adults ~ $5 children 6-12
Click here for Tickets 


Prairie State Conservation Coalition (PSCC) is a non-profit organization created to assist conservation land trusts, land owners, and communities in their efforts to protect land and water resources in Illinois. This Hike App was created with the support of PSCC, the Donnelley Foundation, and the Grand Victoria Foundation to further enhance public awareness and foster community interactions with Illinois natural areas and open lands. With this App, land trust organizations in Illinois now have an outlet to provide interactive tours of their project sites. These tours are guided by GPS and conveniently available on your mobile devices. The Hike App leads you through an interpretive hike in a natural area of your choosing. Limited hikes are currently available; more hikes are coming soon. This app features the history of Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as, detailed maps of the property.