Bird Watching at Bowen Park
1800 N. Sheridan Road, Waukegan, Illinois
Just a short drive north of Waukegan Beach is the migrant hotspot known as Bowen Park. Sitting on a high ridge, Bowen Park looks down on a winding ravine that has been known to attract warblers during migration. Birders can sometimes get eye-level views of birds as they look out into the canopy of smaller trees.
Because of the higher vantage point, Bowen Park can also be a great place to watch migrating hawks in the fall as they cruise south along the lakeshore.
Birds to Look For
The best time to visit Bowen Park is during spring and fall migration. In good conditions, Bowen Park can hold excellent warbler numbers including sought-after species such as Black-throated Blue and Connecticut Warblers.
Late fall can also be good to view migrating raptors. Though not as well known as Illinois Beach State Park, a good number of hawks can be seen here as well.
A Carolina Wren, which is a rarity in Lake County, has also spent a few summers in the ravine.
Birding the Bowen Park Ravine
In spring, Bowen Park is a good place to start a morning of birding in northern Lake County if the conditions are right – particularly if there are reports of cold fronts coming in the night before.
Start by birding around the edges of the ravine, listening and looking for warblers in the high tree tops in the ravine itself as well as those in the adjacent street-level grassy areas of the park. There is also an easy trail that takes you down into the ravine. In early spring, a Louisiana Waterthrush can sometimes be found in the small stream at the bottom of the ravine.
If you are birding here in the fall, any area of open sky can yield high numbers of hawks from September through Thanksgiving. Watch for the hawks coming from the north. Large kettles of Broad-winged Hawks can be an exhilarating sight.
Getting to Bowen Park
Located in Waukegan, the best way to get to Bowen Park is to take I-94 to the Grand Ave exit heading east. Follow Grand Ave east for about 5.5 miles until coming to Sheridan Road. Take Sheridan Rd north until reaching Jack Benny Rd. Take that road east and you will enter Bowen Park and see the ravine.