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Chicago-area brewery to release ale in support of Northern Harrier conservation


Festivities are set for Saturday, November 20, as Imperial Oak Brewing in Willow Springs, a Chicago suburb, releases Marsh Hawk Red Ale, a tribute to the Northern Harrier, aka the Marsh Hawk.

The slim hawk is listed as endangered in Illinois, where it can be found in marshes, prairies, and farm fields. Marsh Hawk Red Ale features hints of cranberry, cinnamon, and vanilla and is designed to pair with a hearty autumn meal. The label art, designed by Bill Fogarty of Black Coffee Pictures, features a Marsh Hawk cracking open a can of ale.

According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, Northern Harrier populations have declined by 47% since the 1960s due to habitat loss and pesticides. The species breeds in only a few remaining locations in Illinois.

A new documentary, “The Magic Stump,” will feature harriers and several other rare raptors as they visit an unusual Illinois tree stump in wintertime. Filmmaker Bob Dolgan will show a trailer for the film at the Willow Springs brewery on Saturday, soon after the beer release at 11 a.m. (Learn more about the film.)

The events begin at 8:30 a.m. with a bird walk at nearby Willow Springs Woods. Attendees can expect a mix of woodpeckers, sparrows, and possibly warblers as they explore the dense woods, savanna, and prairie/meadow habitat. An RSVP is required, via or Eventbrite (search Willow Springs Woods). 


Marsh Hawk Red Ale will be available in cans and on tap at Imperial Oak’s locations in Willow Springs (501 Willow Boulevard) and Brookfield (9526 Ogden). The beer release follows the success of Piping Plover Pale Ale, another bird-inspired brew from Imperial Oak that’s a tribute to Monty and Rose, the endangered Piping Plovers that have captivated Chicagoans the past three summers. 

Earlier this year, Dolgan released a documentary about Monty and Rose and the birders who advocate for them. It premiered at a theater in Chicago in September.

A percentage of proceeds from Marsh Hawk Red Ale benefit the nonprofit Great Lakes Flyway Project, which educates the public about birds and advocates for their protection. 


View photos of Northern Harriers in our galleries

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