Each spring the Champaign County Audubon Society awards ornithological research grants in memory of Charles S. Kendeigh. An ornithologist of international stature, Dr. Kendeigh was one of our founding members. Congratulations go to Cassandra Wilcoxen and Brett Dorak as recipients of the grant award in 2016.
Cassandra Wilcoxen is a student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign working towards a
Master of Science in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Cassandra’s
study will examine the use of cover crops on agricultural fields and whether they are beneficial to
birds during spring migration. The goal of her research is to identify which farming practices benefit
birds most, so that farmers can be provided with better recommendations to support higher bird
abundance and diversity in a landscape largely dominated by row-crop agriculture. This is Cassandra’s
second year receiving the Kendeigh Grant for research on cover crops, and the project has been
expanded by adding more sites for a larger sample size than last year. The grant funds will cover
travel to the study sites and the hiring of a part-time field technician to assist in data collection.
Brett Dorak is also pursuing a Master of Science in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental
Sciences at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. His project will examine wintering
ecology of urban populations of Canada geese, with the goal of investigating the movements
of wintering goose populations and their use of thermal refuges in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan
Area. Brett will fit geese with transmitters in order to track their movements throughout the winter
and record habitat types and characteristics preferred by the geese. Better understanding ecological
factors influencing the use of thermal refuges can also help in developing strategies to influence
their movements, for example in the vicinity of airports where airstrikes may occur. The grants funds
awarded to Brett’s project will help cover costs of data plans for transmitters used in the study.