Sixteen birds in the Tweet 16, but only one will be crowned "Chirpion"

Who will make it to the Feathered Four? Fill out your March Migration Madness bracket today.

March is the month where two time-honored traditions collide: the start of spring migration and the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments. It’s often a juggling act—hours spent on the couch watching the games while scooting off to see if the latest warm front has brought in a few more migrants.

I worked with Brad Bumgardner and Sam Warren of Indiana Audubon Society to come up with a list of 16 birds that represented Indiana, since that’s where the entire tournament is being staged this year. It was challenging to narrow the list. The general idea was to include birds that are in Indiana in March and provide representation across genera. Then we looked at some that were common and some that were rare and across habitats. For example, we had Rough-legged Hawk on the original list but took it off because we also had Bald Eagle and American Kestrel in the raptor category. In terms of matchups, we chose birds that may or may not have a natural affinity. Short-eared Owl and Horned Lark have something in common as birds that at least generally share the same grassland habitat type, whereas Bald Eagle and Winter Wren have almost nothing in common at all. Here’s a look at the bracket (click here for a closer look, or to download):

Wondering how winners will be decided? Voting will take place each day on the Indiana Audubon Facebook Page, one matchup at a time beginning March 19 until we get to the “chirpion” on April 5. I’ll also provide updates in this space, as well as matchup analysis.

If you want to take your best guess at the outcome of the tournament, print out a bracket, fill it in, take a photo of it and email it to Sam Warren. The winning bracket will receive:

  • One pair of Virtual Tickets to this year’s Indiana Dunes Birding Festival, May-13, 2021.

  • 2021 Indiana Dunes Birding Festival Fine Art Print (see below).

  • 2021 Indiana Dunes Birding Festival lens cloth.

  • Indiana Birding Trail Guide Book.

  • One copy of “Monty and Rose”, the documentary about Chicago’s Piping Plovers.

Why 1.5 acres should matter to every Chicagoan

In case you missed it, I wrote an essay that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday about the requested habitat addition at Montrose Beach Dunes. There still isn’t a decision from the Park District on the 1.5-acre request, even as the return of the Piping Plovers is about six weeks away. The additional habitat would provide more permanent protection for the land and water Monty and Rose have utilized the past two years. Volunteer Site Steward Leslie Borns has requested that the Park District provide a response by April 20. If you would like to make your voice heard, you may contact Park District officials via the email addresses at the following link.


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TWiB Notes

I took the above shot of a hybrid duck, American Black Duck x Mallard, at Bunker Hill Forest Preserve on the Northwest Side two weekends ago. It was hanging out in the little oxbow lagoon there that was once part of the Chicago River…..Jeff Reiter had an outstanding piece in the Daily Herald last week about a prolific local birder, Al Stokie of Park Ridge, who birded every day in 2020 and informs so many through his posts on Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts (IBET)…...Cheers to Friends of the Chicago River, which issued a statement about the river being dyed green on Saturday for St. Patrick’s Day: “Dyeing the river sends the wrong message that it is lifeless and can be treated as a decoration for an annual holiday.”……Mitchell Wenkus, videographer for “Monty and Rose,” made a second clip reel of mergansers and goldeneyes, this time with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop. Stunning (and icy) shots here.

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