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Jon Duerr and wife Joy, participating in the annual Audubon Society’s bird count.


Birdwatching


Ecologist and avid birdwatcher Jon J. Duerr considers the bald eagle to be one of the most remarkable stories of the Fox River Valley.


“Tis is a bird that was on the Endangered Species list in the 1970s, and now it can be seen throughout the Fox Valley,” he said. “Tere is even a nesting pair on the Mooseheart property in plain view of Randall Road.”


Duerr, for whom the Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve in South Elgin is named, is out birdwatching “five or six times a week.” He also directs the Audubon Society’s annual bird count in Kane County, as well as serving on the board of the Illinois Orinthological Society.


Duerr had been an active birdwatcher “in the 1960s,” and became active again in the 1980s, when he was hired by the Kane County Forest Preserve. His first job was supervising the building of bike trails, and in doing so, he realized that the river was an excellent place to watch birds. He eventually served as executive director of the Kane County Forest Preserve District, and continued his passion for birds after his retirement.


Duerr enjoys observing a range of birds throughout the year, and on an average day will see 50 or 60 birds. On a recent outing, his wife Joy “scared up” a yellow rail, and later counted a Smith’s Longspur. He said the range of birds available at any one time varies dramatically with the time of year, and that is particularly evident in the annual bird count.


“Te bird count is an attempt to count every bird in every county in Illinois on one day,” he explained. “It’s held every year on a Saturday between the 4th and 11th of May. We’ve found that the variety of birds counted varies greatly depending on whether it’s held earlier or later in May. Different birds will be passing through the area on their migrations at different times, and it provides an interesting picture of where the birds are.”


Duerr said interest in birds in the area has increased greatly in recent years, as has the participation in the annual bird count.


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