It is time once again for the (4th?) annual America's Birdiest City/County Competition.
Cities and counties across the country compete to see who can spot the most species of birds in a specified time period. There are different categories for different sized cities, and for different parts of the country. Chicago and Cook County have always done well in this competition, usually winning at least one of the categories.
The rules have changed a bit this year. This year the competition lasts for three days, and we have chosen this weekend (Friday through Sunday) for Chicago's and Cook County's entries. Under the new rules, a person can bird all three days and report all of their sightings; you don't have to pick your "best" 24-hour period, you can submit all of your sightings.
If you don't send your sightings to IBET, you can send them directly to me. Just be sure that you somehow designate which species were seen in Chicago (they would count for Chicago and Cook County) and which were seen only in suburban Cook County.
We have had great participation in past years from groups doing Big Days or the CAS Bird-a-thon, but even if you just head out to your local forest preserve for an hour or two, you may see something that no one else will see this weekend.
Our goal, of course, is to maximize the total number of species seen in the three-day weekend, and the best way to do that is to blanket the lakefront hotspots and send other teams to search for particularly difficult-to-locate species, for example, owls, ducks, grassland birds that are within the Chicago city limits. I would like to try to organize teams to hit spots that might not have a lot of coverage this weekend, like Black Partridge F.P., Dan Ryan Woods, McCormick Place, the southern lakefront parks, the O'Hare Ponds, and certain spots in the Calumet area; if anyone is interested in birding these areas, please let me know.
Of course, I'm still not back in Chicago yet, but I will try to make it back for all the fun.