Over the weekend we celebrated International Migratory Bird Day with a hike around one of the Cook County forest preserves, Crabtree Nature Center.   It was gratifying to see the ongoing restoration progress at this site – which seems to be getting better year by year.   One of our favorite trails goes out into open grasslands – which has gotten recent attention over the past winter via the clearing of some dead ash trees and other secondary and invasive species:



While the sight of this wood pile might be off putting to some, it’s worth reminding visitors what’s at stake here: the expansion and improvement of grassland habitat, which currently makes up a tiny fraction of the Illinois landscape.   I was happy to see a (deer-nibbled!) Jack-in-the-Pulpit bravely emerging from the newly cleared ground plane:


Looking in a different direction, one can see where controlled burns have also been employed:


These open fields descend gradually into adjacent wetlands.  What’s the payoff?  In just this section of the trail we were treated to distant view of two Sandhill cranes that have apparently nested here this year, as well as the sound of a Sora calling from the wet areas nearby:


Elsewhere in the vicinity we caught glimpses of a possible osprey, and migrating American white pelicans.  Such restoration efforts help provide habitat for these amazing birds.   Keep looking up!