The Illinois Audubon Society began in 1897 in Chicago as a way to combat bird feathers being used in hats. Today, it’s the oldest independent conservation organization in the state.
The Society is known for being an advocate for birds, but it goes further.
“We started being about bird protection and we’ve expanded a great deal. We’ve been really active in protecting habitats,” said Jim Herkert, Executive Director. That includes purchasing land, like the Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary in Lee County that is home to more than 170 species of birds.
“There are lots of birds that breed in Illinois, well over 200 species, and some are going up and some are going down,” Herkert said. Loss of habitat, like grasslands and wetlands, is causing problems for certain birds.
“Some of our most common birds are declining right now.” Herkert said. Grackles and horned lark are still very common, but he said their numbers are falling.
Herkert added that monitoring the bird population and protecting habitat are key for the Audubon Society.
“Birds have shown they are pretty resilient and if given the opportunity they can respond pretty quickly,” he said.
An event to mark the 120th birthday of the Illinois Audubon Society is scheduled for June 28 at the Field Museum. More details here.