Bird Conservation Region (BCR) #22 is known as the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie. This once vast habitat stretched from central Ohio west to eastern Nebraska and Kansas and included almost the entire state of Illinois. It was this “endless” prairie that earned Illinois the nickname of The Prairie State, a sad misnomer today.
This bird conservation region also held a great oak savanna landscape that is today in serious peril. Some of the main threats include:
- recreational development
- agricultural expansion
Birds like the Greater Prairie-Chicken and Henslow’s Sparrow still persist in this conservation region but need solid conservation efforts to stop their decline. In the Oak Savannah, Red-headed Woodpeckers are still fairly common but have been declining at a rapid pace.
Some great places to find prairie habitat in BCR 22 are:
- Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area (Illinois)
- Tallgrass Prairie National Reserve (Kansas)
- Nachusa Grasslands (Illinois)
- Deer Run Forest Preserve (Illinois)
- Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (Illinois)
While much of the Tallgrass Prairies have been lost, there is still time to convert farmland into prairie. With a wide effort from private landowners as well as some government incentives, prairie conservation can increase, as well as the birds of the prairie.