LaBagh Woods:  The First 11 Months

Have you been out to LaBagh Woods lately? If you have, you have seen that the LaBagh Big Year has made a huge difference. Planting is complete for this year, but fund-raising and scouring LaBagh for new species has not stopped.

How have we done?
COS is pleased and proud to let you know that (a) COS has raised at least $9.577.50 so far, and (b) 378 shrubs have been planted. So how did we get from (a) to (b)? Here are just some of the steps involved in transforming green dollars into green shrubs:

Step 1 –Where and what to plant? With advice and input from many, we figured out where the plantings would go, and which plants would do best in that environment, and cleared our plans with the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Here the planning group is taking a break to admire one of the "peanuts" planted this spring.

Here the planning group is taking a break to admire one of the “peanuts” planted this spring.

 

Step 2-Let’s go Shrub Shopping!  Forest Preserves of Cook County requires that the shrubs planted at LaBagh Woods be sourced from the North Branch of the Chicago River.  Both Possibility Place and Ken Schaefer, master naturalist, have shrubs that meet this criterion. This year, we purchased 212 shrubs from Possibility Place, and Ken gave us over 131 plants, gratis! COS also rescued over 28 native roses that were slated to be plowed under, which now have a new home at LaBagh.

Shrubs being loaded at Possibility Place, destination LaBagh!

Shrubs being loaded at Possibility Place, destination LaBagh! Picking up shrubs in Monee saves COS $500 delivery charge.

 

Step 3-Auguring well for planting day! We discovered from our spring plantings that digging big holes with little shovels is back-breaking work.  To make planting day easier, a group of strong volunteers augur the holes for the larger plants before the actual planting day.

Dennis Marton, Fran Morel, Josh Coles, Luis Munoz and Jeff Skrentny: augur team! (photo by Jeff Skrentny)

Dennis Marton, Fran Morel, Josh Coles, Luis Munoz and Jeff Skrentny: augur team! (photo by Jeff Skrentny)

 

Step 4-  Planting Day (five this year!) The person power to plant the shrubs is a combined effort of Habitat 2030 LaBagh volunteers and COS. Here are a few photos that tell the story:

Volunteers at the November 15 planting day included 2 school groups and entailed a lot of organization.

Volunteers at the November 15 planting day included 2 school groups and entailed a lot of organization.

Here come the shrubs! Volunteers transporting shrubs to their new home.

Here come the shrubs! Volunteers transporting shrubs to their new home.

Shrubs being tucked into their new home (photo by Jeff Skrentny)

Shrubs being tucked into their new home (photo by Jeff Skrentny)

Last step: Fencing ....

Last step: Fencing ….

Deer

—> and this is why.

 

 

 

What else has been going on at LaBagh?

The volunteers from Habitat 2030 LaBagh have been gathering seeds for herbaceous plants throughout the year and sowing them in the Preserve. The native plants were already growing this fall, and were enjoyed by sparrows, kinglets and other birds. Volunteers have also been improving paths and discouraging use of duplicative ones. Most importantly, buckthorn removal has continued. Female buckthorn trees have been marked for felling this winter, leaving the males to provide continuing habitat until more native shrubs can be planted.

Monitors have been tracking birds at LaBagh since this spring. The data they have collected will be used to analyze the habitats that birds use and the effect of our restoration efforts on bird populations at LaBagh.

Jeff Skrentny has continued his indefatigable cheerleading of everyone’s efforts at LaBagh and continued to post his sightings at My Year Birding at LaBagh. Click on those words and be amazed at the diversity of flora and fauna to be found right here at LaBagh!

And of course, birding at LaBagh has never been so intensely pursued. With fall winding down, new species sightings for the year are still coming in: Tundra Swans, White-eyed Vireo, Nelson’s Sparrow (a first ever for LaBagh!), Merlin, Northern Harrier, Connecticut Warbler and Common Nighthawk are new additions for the year. We are at 165 species for the year and there is still more than a month of birding to go! We have obliterated our original goal of finding 140 species here.

 

What is coming up in 2016 and beyond?

COS and its partners are the recipients of two grants to restore the understory at LaBagh with native shrubs. To assure that COS has the supply of shrubs needed over the next two years, we decided we needed to collect seeds this year from North Branch plants.  The volunteer stewards of the North Branch Restoration Project know where plants are located and were integral to this effort.  In particular, Eileen Sutter, who oversees seed collecting for the North Branch, and Michael Swierz of Habitat 2030 took this project to heart, collected some difficult-to-find seeds, and provided much-needed guidance.  In an effort that stretched from late summer well into November, we felt like giant squirrels as we scoured the woods for the fruits and nuts of 25 different species.  The seeds are now with Possibility Place Nursery and they will come back to us as shrubs in 2016 and 2017.

We will need lots of different kinds of help in the next two years to continue what we started this year, from cutting buckthorn, gathering and sowing seeds, planting shrubs, monitoring birds, leading bird walks, community outreach and other activities. There is something that each of you can contribute to this effort to think globally and act locally!

 

A huge THANK YOU !! to all COS members, friends and family who have donated and pledged the funds which have made the LaBagh Big Year possible.

 

It is not too late to donate (or pledge!). It is so easy- just go to chicagobirder.org and follow the prompts.

 

Labagh Big Year update - One Third done!

Shrubs planted by COS at Labagh

See this full report with images by clicking this link: COS LaBagh-COS Web page-insert re LaBagh May 2015

It seems like just yesterday that COS kicked off the LaBagh Big Year with a field trip there on a snowy January 1. Here we are now in May, with migration in full swing, over one-third of   […]

Review and provide comments on the Montrose Point Master Plan by February 20

Recently, a number of COS members, other birders and park stewards attended the second public meeting about the Montrose Point Master Plan, where CDF, the design firm, presented a revised master plan and management process. Over the last year since the initial public meeting, stakeholders’ groups and others have provided feedback to the Chicago Park   […]

The 2015 COS Team LaBagh Big Year Begins! (report #1)

LaBagh Woods (photo by Jeff Skrentny)

As 2015 began for Illinois birders, all the attention was on Quincy, Illinois, with its RARE visitor, an adult Ivory Gull. And the day after it became a no show, a Slaty-backed Gull was a one-day (one hour?) wonder in Peoria. It was a VERY “gullciting” start to   […]

COS Launches LaBagh Big Year Fundraiser

COS has launched its 2015 fundraiser for LaBagh Woods, located at Foster Avenue and Edens Expressway. LaBagh Woods is a critical habitat for migrating birds, but is not in good shape. Years of neglect have resulted in a significantly degraded habitat. Thanks to recent re-dedication by the Cook County Forest Preserve, volunteers have received a   […]

Chicago Park District Montrose Hearing - January 22 at 5:30pm

For over a year the Chicago Park District has been engaged in revising the master management plan for Montrose Point. COS has been a participant on a group of stakeholders as have many other environmental and parks advocacy organizations. At the last stakeholders’ meeting in December, we were glad to see that most of the   […]

Palos Trip Report - November 3, 2014

Sixteen birders showed up on a cool but sunny fall day. It was a great to be out birding. Unfortunately birds have wings and all of the swans seen yesterday were gone. We did have some quality birds. An American Pelican swam around and was very visible. An adult Bald Eagle flew around but   […]

Wind & Wildlife: Event report

Wind conference photo

November 8, 2014

By Christine Williamson

 

COS and Sierra Club Chicago Group designed a program that brought in experts from around the U.S. to talk about the impacts of wind turbines, one of the cleanest energy production methods, on wildlife.

Our panel was comprised of three pre-eminent U.S.-based wildlife biologists who work on wind   […]

COS-Illinois Young Birders - Douglas Park Field Trip

COS and Illinois Young Birders at Douglas Park

September 28, 2014

A joint Chicago Ornithological Society-Illinois Young Birders field trip led by Eric and Aaron Gyllenhall attracted 40 birders to Douglas Park on Chicago’s Westside. Combining eBird lists of four different birders, the group list for the trip stands at 62 species!

We spent more than two and a half hours birding around   […]

Bartel Grasslands Field Trip Report - 7.7.2014

Photo by Clara Coen (c) 2014

On July 6, 2014, a beautiful Sunday morning, Dick Riner escorted our group of about 20 birders around Bartel Grasslands. After dousing ourselves with insect repellant and some folks donning rubber boots we were ready for the birds and mosquitoes. But before heading out, Dick ‘warned’ us that a large flock of bobolinks departed on   […]

Join the COS LaBagh Big Year 2015! Help us raise money to support local forest preserve LaBagh Woods. Donate using the PayPal button below or make a pledge using this form.

Visit the LaBagh Big Year 2015 page for complete information on the project.

Chicago Ornithological Society is a modern birding club that promotes the scientific and educational aspects of ornithology in the greater Chicago, Illinois area.

I would like to join/renew my COS membership:

Membership Options

You can also print a membership form and mail it to us:
Membership Form - PDF format

Membership Form - Word format


Donate to COS online using the button below: