Breeding Birds

Woodcock Eggs, Stephen Packard, April 2015

Woodcock Eggs, April 2015

Two somewhat distinct groups of “birds of conservation concern” breed in the Somme preserves—those of savanna-shrublands and those of oak woodlands.

Savanna species

Savanna birds breed where prairie-like grasslands have a few trees per acre. Some of the savanna birds that breed at Somme Prairie Grove regularly include:

  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Woodcock
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Mourning Dove
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Northern Flicker
  • Goldfinch
  • Cardinal
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Willow Flycatcher

Shrubland species

Some species breed in densely shrubby areas within savanna or prairie. Some shrubland birds that breed here regularly include:

  • Common Yellowthroat
  • House Wren
  • Gray Catbird
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Field Sparrow
  • Song Sparrow

Birds that may not breed here every year but can sometimes be found nesting in the savannas and shrublands here include:

  • Black-billed Cuckoo
  • Sparrow Hawk
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Tree Swallow

Woodland species

The open oak woodlands support different birds than do denser forests. Some of the birds that breed in Somme Woods that are typical of the open woodland (and can sometimes be found in the savanna as well) include:

  • Crested Flycatcher
  • Wood Pewee
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Open woodland birds that sometimes breed here include:

  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  • Yellow-throated Vireo

Prairie Species

Currently Somme Prairie supports shrubland birds. Classic prairie birds do not yet nest here, but continuing restoration of the remnant prairie (west of the Metra tracks) is likely to support prairie birds as the quality of the grassland improves. These species may include Sedge Wren, Bobolink, Savanna Sparrow, Henslow’s Sparrow, Dickcissel, and Meadowlark.

Other birds

Other species that breed here regularly that are not especially restricted to these habitats include:

  • Mallard (any open area near water)
  • Great Horned Owl (nests in trees; often hunts in open areas)
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (forests, woodlands or savanna)
  • Grackle (wetlands or any open area)
  • Red-winged Blackbird (wetlands or any open area)
  • Brown-headed Cowbird (any open area – a nest parasite)
  • Red-eyed Vireo (forests or woodlands)
  • White-breasted Nuthatch (forests or woodlands)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (forests, woodlands or savanna)
  • Blue Jay (forests, woodlands or savanna)

Three species that have sometimes raised their babies in the wetlands here:

  • Wood Duck
  • Sora
  • Virginia Rail