Dr. Jim Herkert, director of the Illinois Audubon Society, will present a fascinating talk on the grassland birds of the 21,000-acre Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, site of the former Joliet Arsenal in Joliet, Illinois. His talk, “Breeding Birds of Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Illinois’ Largest Grassland,” will begin at 6:30pm at the Ruth Culver Community Library in Prairie du Sac on Thursday, October 17th.
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie was created in 1996 on the property of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant in northeastern Illinois. The site is known to support a wide variety of birds including very large populations of several grassland birds on the site’s pastures and hayfields. Additional acres of grassland are also currently being restored to wet-prairie and sedge meadow habitats. In 2015 an experimental bison herd was established on the prairie. The herd is considered experimental because it is intended to help learn how bison facilitate the restoration of tallgrass prairie and prairie bird habitat. Midewin, and formerly the Joliet Arsenal, is also one of the most intensively monitored grassland areas in the state with annual bird surveys going back to the mid-1980s. The talk will discuss bird population trends at the site, bird response to initial restoration and research focused on the unique loggerhead shrike population on the site.
Jim Herkert is the Executive Director of the Illinois Audubon Society, a position he has held since 2016. The Society is Illinois’s oldest conservation organization. Prior to joining Illinois Audubon, he worked for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy and the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board. Herkert received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Champaign (Department of Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution) and is a Fellow in the American Ornithological Society.
The “We Are Sauk Prairie” lecture series is supported with a generous grant from Alliant Energy Foundation.