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Lemont woman volunteers to save birds

LEMONT — Kelly Kwasniewski has a passion for birds and a desire to help those in need.

That’s why she volunteers with the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a group that patrols Chicago during migration seasons, looking for birds that have been hurt or killed from flying into windows.

“I care about the birds,” she said. “They always get hurt in the city, always get smashed in the windows. I just feel bad for them. I just want to help them out.”

Kwasniewski, a lifelong resident of Lemont, learned about the CBCM through her friend, Julie Biedess, who volunteers at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn. The CBCM transports injured birds that are native to Illinois to the center.

“She’s come to visit me at Willowbrook,” Biedess said. “She has seen a lot of the birds there. That’s when she started asking questions about how they got there and wanted to get involved with the monitoring.”

Migration periods are six to eight weeks during the spring and fall. The monitors made their first fall outing on Aug. 18.

Monitors start at sunrise and can work four or more hours. The groups are divided into two coverage areas: one around the lakefront and another farther west, near the Daley Center.

Injured birds are transported to various care centers, where they are evaluated and either released or given treatment. Dead birds are given to the Field Museum in Chicago.

Kwasniewski and other volunteers have been trained to handle birds that have been stunned or injured.

She said the first step is to catch the bird with a net. The bird is put in a brown paper bag, which is closed with a paper clip. The time and place the bird was found is written on the bag.

Kwasniewski said she does not find injured or dead birds every time out.

“If they’re there, I help them,” she said. “If they’re not there, that’s better.”

Though she likes all kinds of birds, Kwasniewski said she was scared one time when she was transporting an injured woodpecker.

“I felt like it was going to peck me or something,” she said. “I was getting like ‘Oh God, please don’t let him come out.’”

Kwasniewski said the best thing a person can do if they see an injured bird is call the CBCM hotline at 773-988-1867.

Biedess said people should only attempt to move the bird if it is small, by putting it in a paper bag or shoebox and arranging for the CBCM to pick it up.

The CBCM is looking for volunteers. For information about volunteering, visit

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