Documenting birds, UFOs and prairies

The local bird hotline no longer functions, so occasionally I will mention rare wild birds seen in our area. In mid-July, a 2-year-old golden eagle was observed near the Garden Prairie slough one mile south of Garden Prairie in Boone County. The golden eagle breeds mostly in the Rocky Mountain range and is now believed to nest on Mississippi River cliffs in Minnesota. Other speculators believe they’re nesting on cliffs in federal and state reserves in central Wisconsin, as they are seen every month of the year at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

A little blue heron was also seen at Garden Prairie slough; it is on the state endangered list. In August, a laughing gull was observed at Rock Cut State Park for several days. The laughing gull has never been documented in Winnebago County since records have been kept. Laughing gulls usually reside along the south Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast. A Mississippi kite was seen at Rock Cut a week before the laughing gull sightings. This bird usually visits the Rockford area several times a year; it is more at home in southern Illinois near water, all the way into Florida. The Mississippi kite is also on the state endangered list.

A state-endangered least tern showed up at the quarry on Greater Rockford Airport land. It’s only the second record of it being sighted in Winnebago County. Only a select few people have permission to bird this quarry, and even those who do are met with stiffer airport security that are well armed and extremely curious. If you are one of the few, please don’t show up with a camera of any sort, or you will go to jail. The least tern usually resides along the upper and lower Eastern coasts and rivers in the South, including southern Illinois.

Well, praise God, in the grassiest of places, Westminster Presbyterian Church has decided to put in a prairie restoration on the grounds of its future church in sprawl valley near I-90, Spring Creek and Bell School Road.

A Ufologist from the Chicago area examined the photos taken at the crop circle site near Byron. The Ufologist found six more anomalies in the sky portions of the photos, three of which we believe are over Byron’s nuclear power plant. The photos have been blown up in size. Nuclear power plants have always been hot spots for UFO activity, and maybe there’s a connection as the crop circles were within eight miles of “Love Nuke.”

On Monday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4848 Turner St., Rockford videographer Chuck Johannsen will air his new video documentary at the BlackHawk Sierra Club meeting. The documentary is titled Aldo Leopold and the Wild Prairie Orchids. The documentary presents the story of Professor Aldo Leopold at Faville Grove, Wis., marking the beginning of prairie preservation as a public endeavor. The video also views the beginnings of prairie restorations: the public plantings at the UW Arboretum and the Leopold family project at “the shack.”

In a one-hour session, Mr. Johannsen will introduce the documentary, explaining why it was made (a project taking eight years, with no funding) and how it was achieved. After the 45-minute video, he’ll answer questions from the audience.

I have watched this video, and I found it to be very educational, colorful, and put together extremely well. If you like prairies, then this is a must-see.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues.

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