On May 13, 2023 the latest Audubon Mural was installed at 317 Mulberry St. in Rockford, Illinois. The new mural features climate threatened bird species that have been documented at Bell Bowl Prairie. The artist, Jackie Kuroda, wanted to bring awareness to these species of birds and their loss of habitat. Each panel also features plants that have been documented at Bell Bowl Prairie, including the State Endangered Prairie Dandelion.
One of the last remaining gravel prairies in Illinois, Bell Bowl Prairie, was almost completely destroyed as part of the expansion of the Chicago Rockford International Airport. Rare, threatened, and endangered species were destroyed as they bulldozed the highest quality remnant in March 2023. The expansion could have been done responsibly and in ways that did not negatively impact Bell Bowl Prairie or its rare plants and animals. Feasible, alternative plans existed and could have been implemented to benefit the prairie and the Rockford community.
It is our hope that this mural will bring awareness to both climate change and the loss of habitat. Grassland birds like the Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark are two of the fastest declining species of birds. Despite its nickname, the “Prairie State” now has less than 0.01% of its pre-European settlement prairie. Gravel prairies such as Bell Bowl represent a tiny fraction of that: 148 acres in total across the entire state in various states of quality (IDNR-b).
What can you do to help? Read Audubon’s climate-action guide to find ways to start the conversation, lead your community, or join a cause.
About the artist: Kuroda has been a youth board member for Sinnissippi Audubon since 2019 and led the initiative to name the Peregrine Falcon Rockford’s official city bird. She also spoke on behalf of Bell Bowl Prairie at an airport board meeting in January 2022 and completed artwork for Birdsongs, Vol I – Songs of the Mississippi Flyway album.
Species featured in this mural: Savannah Sparrow and Prairie Dandelion, Wood Thrush and Purple Prairie Aster, Bobolink and White Prairie Aster, Eastern Meadowlark and Prairie Gentian.