Bird Sanctuary Project
One of the many special projects at Fermilab is the bird sanctuary. Out of the 6,800 acres of the Fermilab site, a large part of it is still undeveloped. In that area, there are many habitats: upland forest, floodplain woods, oak savanna, prairie remnant, reconstructed prairie, non-native grasslands, old field, pastureland, tuffgrass lawns, fencerows, row-crop field, and many types of wetlands (Illinois Natural History Survey, 1985).
Fermilab is one of the six National Environmental Research Parks across the United States. Each park is a protected outdoor laboratory where ecological studies are conducted.
Birds represent a large part of the wildlife at Fermilab. As the bird population increases and the human development crowds in, Fermilab becomes an inland refuge in the middle of the metropolis.
Vicki Byre, an ornithologist from the Chicago Academy of Sciences, has mapped red-tailed hawk and great horned owl. Byre has recorded over 200 species of birds, and 40 of them breed at the Lab. She has found at least six hawk and three or four owl nests. According to Byre, 231 species of birds were observed at Fermilab from January 1987 through July 1989. Seventy-six of these species were confirmed as nesting on the site. As of July 1989, a total of 238 species of birds had been documented as passing through the grounds of Fermilab. Twenty-eight state-listed threatened or endangered species used the site during 1988-89, some for extended periods of time.
The site may be one of the few places where future generations will be able to see northern Illinois as it was long ago.