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Weekend Life

Audubon group to host new-year bird walks

Participants can start 2014 bird-sighting lists during two January events

Bird watchers will begin compiling their 2014 bird-sighting lists during the Kane County Audubon’s three-mile bird walks on Jan. 1 – New Year’s Day – and Jan. 4.

The two walks start at 8 a.m. and will take place at Dick Young Forest Preserve, 39W115 Main St., Batavia. Participants should meet in the parking lot by the silo on Nelson Lake Road and are strongly advised to bring binoculars, food and water, in addition to dressing in layers.

Attendees of any age or skill level will be admitted to the walks, though the Audubon group advises parents to consider the cold weather and quiet forest environment when determining whether to bring their young children.

“Our group is really good at helping newcomers see things and explaining to them why a particular bird is what it is,” said Rhonda Nelson, a Batavia resident and leader of the traditional New Year’s Day bird walk.  

Terry Murray, an Aurora resident and the leader of the Jan. 4 walk, has lead the monthly bird walk for three years. He said the walk will take participants around Dick Young’s lake at a pace of 1 mile an hour. During the walk, participants can chat quietly and record the bird sightings. Then attendees will come back and enter their findings into eBird, an online database used to keep track of bird sightings.

“[Bird walk participants] will see their first birds of the year – they’re the ones that count because they go online and everyone can see what’s out there and expand what they’re looking for,” Murray said.

Walk participants should expect to see or hear 10 to 20 bird species, including blue jays, cardinals and robins, during the walk, Murray added.  

Chris Madsen, website master for the Kane County Audubon group and a St. Charles resident, said he has attended New Year’s bird walks in the past and plans on attending this year.

“[I like] the fresh air and camaraderie. It’s a great way to start out the year, and the people that bird [watch] are nice to be around,” Madsen said.

The walks will be canceled only in the case of severe weather or a blizzard. Participants are strongly advised not to bring unleashed pets.

For more information, contact Murray at 630-896-3219, Nelson at 630-479-1384 or visit the Kane County Audubon’s website at

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