Each year in the state of Illinois we participate in the Spring Bird Count. This statewide event occurs on the
second Saturday of May Saturday between May 4th and May 10th. Unfortunately, we will not be participating this year (or at least much more limited) because Jennie (Veery) is graduating from Northern Illinois University on the same day. Nonetheless, our county has a descent number of counters and we usually find a ton of birds.
This data provides a great tool for tracking bird populations and since Illinois is a tall state, the diversity of birds is incredible during this time. Some birds just arriving in the northern part, others on territory in the south, etc.
The Illinois Natural History Survey has a database for past spring bird counts from 1975 to 2005. The database can be analyzed by individual species from any given time period and either statewide or by particular county. While this is intriguing to browse, the results are not in a user-friendly format and does not generate and chart or graph (just a table of data).
For example, we ran a query on how many Baltimore Orioles have been sighted on the spring count from 1975 to 2005 in our county, Winnebago, and obtained the following data table (click the image to enlarge):
A quick look at this table shows that Baltimore Oriole numbers have increased overall yet every few years, their numbers are drastically lower. Without actually analyzing any other factors, this provides a stepping point for more research on this and any other bird species.
We’ll try to post the results of this year’s Spring Count and you can view our recap of last year’s as well.