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Beloved Bird Dies And Reminds Public Of Declining Bird Population

Photo grabbed from the "nest cam" outside the Rockford News Tower; provided by Jennifer Kuroda

Sweeney (with an "e") was a peregrine falcon who was born on the ledge of the Rockford News Tower last June. Thanks to a nest camera, the public got to watch him hatch and fledge. The bird was named after longtime Rockford Register Star reporter and political columnist Chuck Sweeny (no "e") who died in May. Sweeney, the bird, died this month.  


Sweeney's body was found more than 1400 miles from Rockford on the side of a road in Brownsville, Texas. Experts believe the bird collided with an automobile. Jennifer Kuroda is the president of the Sinnissippi Audubon Society in Rockford and says it’s not unusual for birds to die in the first year of their lives.


She said, "First-year birds generally lack a lot of experience so they tend to have a high mortality rate. In almost all first-year raptors, their mortality rate is 60%."

Credit Connie Kuntz
Jennifer Kuroda is the president of the Sinnissippi Audubon Society in Rockford.


Kuroda said collisions and cats are responsible for many bird deaths, but loss of habitat is the main reason birds die. She referenced an Audubon report that was released in the fall.


"While our bird populations are declining, human population has more than doubled." Kuroda said humans are taking over the places plants and animals used to live and, as a result, some bird species are extinct and many more face extinction. She emphasized a need for creating and protecting wildlife habitats. 


Kuroda recommended that people establish yards with less lawn and more native species.


"Small gardens of native plants are things that birds like to eat and a lot of birds help bees pollinate," she said.


Another action people can take is creating a bird park. Kuroda credited West View Middle School for taking this initiative. The school recently received a community service grantto build their own bird park. 




As for other things people can do to nurture the environment and their own personal health, Kuroda said, "Get outside. Make that physical connection with nature." She continued, "We evolved from nature. We are nature." 



Many members of the public grieved the sudden death of Sweeney. Kuroda acknowledged the emotion that comes with caring about birds, especially when people can watch them hatch and fledge through nest cameras.



She said, "There is a loss you feel. There is this human connection to nature." 


Sweeney had two siblings named Peaches and Freddie Van Tweet. Their whereabouts are unknown. 






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