Just 35 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, birds and butterflies that once called our region home are making a triumphant return to a special place. They are attracted to this special place because of environmental restoration, the process of returning an area to its natural state in order to restore the health and vitality of the land and water. And now, through the work of Openlands and our partners, you can explore the rare and stunning bird and butterfly species that call this place home.
This extraordinary place, Deer Grove East Forest Preserve in Palatine, IL, is one of the five natural area and wetland restorations Openlands is working on as a part of the O’Hare Modernization Mitigation Account (OMMA) initiative. OMMA seeks to offset the impact on wetlands caused by the expansion of O’Hare International Airport. This project is part of a series of restorations across the Des Plaines River Watershed in conjunction with the Chicago District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Chicago Department of Aviation, and other partners.
25 Bird Species Documented at Deer Grove East
As part of its Army Corps requirements, Openlands monitored and documented the plant species in the restored and enhanced plant communities at Deer Grove East. We also measured the water levels in the upper portion of the site’s soils during growing season to record how the wetlands recovered. Additionally, from 2010-2015, our project consultant Stantec Consulting Services Inc., and the Deer Grove Natural Area Volunteers monitored bird species nesting at the Preserve, along with those passing through during spring and fall migration. We knew that restoration would attract beautiful and rare animals and were delighted by the results. This monitoring confirmed that 25 birds listed under the Species of Greatest Conservation Need (as classified in the Illinois Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan and Strategy) either nested at or stopped by Deer Grove East during their migrations. Two bird species on the Illinois endangered list, the American Bittern and Wilson’s Phalarope, have been spotted using Deer Grove’s restored wetlands during the spring migratory season. See the list of 25 bird species recorded at Deer Grove East below.
36 Butterfly Species Recorded at Deer Grove East
An Eastern Tailed Blue on Butterfly Weed. Both are found at Deer Grove East.
Because of the outstanding commitment of the Deer Grove Natural Area Volunteers, and our important partnerships with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Forest Preserves of Cook County, we have been able to document the enchanting butterflies that can now be found at the site. To date, 36 species of butterflies have been documented at Deer Grove East including Monarchs, Swallowtails, Skippers and more. These encouraging findings are the result of our planting plan for the Preserve. Five milkweed species recommended for our region by the Monarch Joint Venture (Common Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, Whorled Milkweed, and Poke Milkweed) and many nectar plants were all included with the intent of providing habitat for unique butterfly species. See the list of 36 butterfly species recorded at Deer Grove East below.
Deer Grove East reflects success as a restoration model through the critical the support of our amazing partners like the Deer Grove Natural Area Volunteers, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and the Forest Preserves of Cook County. With partnership, Openlands better connects people to the outdoors through volunteerism, and provides a richer experience for visitors to the site’s trails, picnic groves, and new camping facilities at Camp Reinberg. Learn more about Deer Grove East.
Bird species recorded at Deer Grove East, 2010-2015
Rusty Black Bird
Total Species: 25
Butterfly species recorded at Deer Grove East from 2001-2015 provided by the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Whites and Sulphurs
Eastern Tailed Blue
Ladies and Allies
American Painted Lady
Great Spangled Fritillary
Common Wood Nymph
Little Wood Satyr
Northern Pearly Eye
Silver Spotted Skipper
Total Species: 36
Many studies have addressed the potential of low-input agroecosystems for biological conservation. However, most have been carried out on annual agroecosystems in temperate, developed countries. As agricultural surface will increase and natural protected areas alone will not warrant the conservation of biodiversity, it is crucial to include different types of agroecosystems in research and conservation efforts. In Mexico, perennial, low-input, fruit-oriented nopal orchards (Opuntia spp.), one of the few crops suitable for semiarid areas, are the h out of 61 most important fruit crops grown in the country. We assessed their value for conservation in an anthropized landscape by comparing their rodent assemblages with those in adjacent habitats and determined the influence of the latter on the rodent communities inside them. We live-trapped rodents in 12 orchards and adjacent natural xeric shrubland, grassland, and cropland. We captured 19 different species, of which 17 used the orchards. Four are Mexican endemics. Orchards have higher ? diversity, species richness, and abundance than cropland and grassland and are not different from shrubland. The dominant rodent species are the same in orchards and shrubland, and where these two meet they integrate into one habitat. Within-habitat quality is a critical driver of the composition and diversity of rodent communities in the orchards studied, and the neighboring habitats do not modify them substantially. Increasing within-patch heterogeneity beyond a certain level is at the expense of habitat integrity and produces small-scale fragmentation reducing habitat quality. At a landscape scale, orchards contribute importantly to regional rodent diversity compared with other land use types, and appear to increase habitat connectivity between patches of shrubland. Orchards’ higher ? diversity would give them higher ecological resilience and make them better suited than grassland and cropland to contribute to the conservation of local biota. Nopal orchards should be considered conservation allies and incorporated in regional conservation plans. Regrettably, their future is unwarranted as producers face low revenues and lack of governmental support. Our confirmation that orchards have an important, positive impact on biodiversity can be used as a strong argument to lobby for incentives to safeguard this environmental friendly, low-input agroecosystem.