A new book on birds of Illinois was 100 years in the making.
When the centennial anniversary of the first survey of birds in Illinois was approaching, ornithologists Steven D. Bailey, Jeffrey D. Brawn, Jeffery W. Walk and Michael P. Ward at the Illinois Natural History Survey conducted the third comprehensive survey of Illinois birds.
The result is the 230-page full-color book "Illinois Birds: A Century of Change." The book includes 100 years of data and many photos and illustrations.
It isn't a compendium of every single bird seen in Illinois, but it is a compendium of the major birds that people are most familiar with, said Brawn, an ornithologist and the head of the department of natural resources and environmental sciences.
The book provides information on how the birds and the landscapes of Illinois have changed. The last chapter offers some predictions.
"The species that will thrive in Illinois are the ones that can cope with humans," Ward said.
Ward said the book is filled with pictures and figures. "We have several pictures in the book that were taken in the exact same spot in 1906, 1956 and 2006 so you can see how Illinois has changed and in some cases has not changed," he said.
What's changed among Illinois birds in the past century?
Walk said 26 additional species were found in the most recent survey, but not 50 or 100 years ago, including wood ducks, house finches and collared doves. While only one species has been eliminated from Illinois, several species are declining.
Ward said that making them a conservation priority will bode well for these species. "We know that conservation measures taken early in a species decline are much more effective than waiting until there are only a handful left," Walk said. "This survey, combined with the first two, gives us a really good handle on what the conservation priorities should be in the future."
Walk is the director of science for the Illinois chapter of the Nature Conservancy. Other authors are Thomas Benson, Jill Deppe and Stacy Lischka, with the foreword written by Jean Graber, who conducted the 1950s survey with her husband, Dick. This survey was funded by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' State Wildlife Grant Program from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
To order, e-mail email@example.com. The book is $25 plus $6.25 for shipping.