Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Birds in Winter
Nature Bulletin No. 97   January 4, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation

The woods are silent and lonely in winter. There seems to be no wildlife. One walks in solitude. Except the white oaks, the trees are bare and the understory of plants has flattened to the ground amongst the fallen leaves. You could see and hear far more than in summer if there were wild creatures to see and hear. They are there -- somewhere -- because after the first deep snow we saw the tracks of many rabbits, squirrels, foxes, minks, weasels, field mice and pheasants, but the animals themselves, you see only by rare chance.

For three days, before Christmas, we prowled the wooded hills, dense thickets, meadows, prairies, and stream banks; stopping at likely places to watch and listen for long motionless periods. We saw a few rabbits and squirrels. We saw no birds other than in crows, a few pheasants, and a red-tailed hawk. Finally, in the bushes on the shore of Longjohn Slough, we spied a pair of tree sparrows. There must be downy and hairy woodpeckers in the timber, and there must be owls, but we did not see them. The birds have moved to town.

There are far more birds in the suburbs where people. put out food or maintain feeding boards. Our opulent feeding board in the country is visited only by English sparrows and bluejays. Feeding trays in the suburbs are regularly visited by juncoes, chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, downy and hairy woodpeckers.

Morton Arboretum, 23 miles west of downtown Chicago, seems to have the greatest number and variety of winter birds because of its abundance of food-producing trees, shrubs and vines, and many dense clumps of coniferous trees such as pines, spruces, firs and junipers. The long-eared owl and the short-eared owl have been seen there this winter, and a belated kingfisher was heard two weeks ago. On December 29, three people -- father, mother and son -- observed the following birds at the Arboretum, some of them in considerable number.

Bluejay Tree sparrow
Evening grosbeak
Herring gull
Junco Goldfinch
Horned lark
Black-capped chickadee Redpoll
Red-breasted nuthatch Red-eyed towhee
Downy woodpecker
English sparrow
Golden-crowned kinglet Cedar waxwing
Hairy woodpecker

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