Our annual search for migrating loons and other waterfowl will be a multi-stop tour that begins at Diamond Lake in Mundelein and proceeds to other lakes in the area based on scouting reports.
This is mostly a car driving field trip and not much walking for the entire morning. Bring a spotting scope if you have one.
Directions to Diamond Lake:
From Rt. 22, take Rt. 83 north to Diamond Lake Rd., turn right, and drive ½ mile to the Gale Street Inn parking lot on the right.
Leader: Jeff Sanders (847) 675-7172
Day of Event Contact: Rena Cohen (847) 971-1107
(Note earlier start time: 6:30 PM)
Warblers are the stars of the show in spring with their gaudy colors and unique patterns (just a few of the nearly 30 species that show up in Chicago are featured here) yet views are often brief as they flit high in the canopy or behind dense foliage so it is helpful to know behavior, habitat and song as well as plumage.
Local birder and Red Hill Birding guide Adam Sell will help beginners develop these skills, followed by a walk outside at dusk to see American Woodcocks display. (Bring binoculars!)
On May 4, you can test your newfound warbler knowledge on an Adam-led beginners bird walk at Lyons Woods.
In 2020 Bill Volkert, a longtime Wisconsin DNR naturalist at Horicon Marsh, published his book Journey of a Thousand Lifers documenting the 55,000-mile, eight-month birding and wildlife journey that he and his wife Connie took through 12 countries from southern Africa to India and Southeast Asia. In the process, they sighted more than 1,300 species of birds and over a thousand lifers, taking some 35,000 pictures along the way.
Volkert joins us from his home in Wisconsin to tell the tale.
Shorebirds and passerines migrating from Central and South America arrive in Indiana before they hit the Chicago area. One of the state’s hotspots is the Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area in Linton, Indiana, an 8,000-acre area on the Indiana Birding Trail that lies 225 miles south of Chicago.
Last year’s sightings on this weekend spanned 100 species ranging from White-faced Ibis and Long-billed Dowitcher to the first wave of warblers, sparrows and landbirds, including species we rarely see in the Chicago area like Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-eyed Vireo and Blue Grosbeak. We’ll also cover nearby areas like Greene-Sullivan State Forest – all with a local guide who is intimately familiar with this patch.
Registration required. Email email@example.com for trip details.
This Lake County Forest Preserve features a gravel trail that winds around wetlands, woodlands and open prairies, offering ample opportunities for early spring migrants ranging from passerines to waterfowl and shorebirds depending on water levels.
The entrance and parking lot are located on Erhart Road between Gilmer and Fremont Center Road.
Leader: Beau Schaefer (847) 337-3602
As a followup to our April 4 spring warbler workshop, this Beginner Warbler Walk is for all warbler and spring migrant lovers (beginners and otherwise!). The trails in this Lake County Forest Preserve move from pine grove to prairie to oak woodland, providing an ideal stopover for migrants as well as breeding habitat for favorites like Blue-winged Warbler.
The entrance is on Blanchard Road, just west of Sheridan Road, north of Bowen Park and south of Yorkhouse Road.
Leader: Adam Sell (847) 910-7813
Every year since 1972, volunteers have participated in this one-day count across the entire state of Illinois to help measure bird populations.
If you’re interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Migration should be peaking, Montrose should be jumping, and if we’re lucky, Piping Plovers, will have returned to nest in the dunes.
Leader: Rena Cohen (847) 971-1107
From Lake Shore Dr. take the Montrose Ave. exit east, turn right at the Bait Shop at Montrose Harbor Dr., park near sanctuary entrance and feed parking meters OR park on Montrose before or after Bait Shop for free.
This hotspot along the Des Plaines River corridor can yield some of the most sought-after migrants, like the Hooded Warbler that nested there for several years and the Cerulean Warbler that hung out at eye level for 20 minutes on a Lake/Cook outing a few years ago.
Leader: Donna Kenski 847-347-3474
From Deerfield Rd., turn north on Riverwoods Rd., drive to Ryerson entrance. Enter preserve and follow the signs to Brushwood Visitors Center. Meet in the Brushwood parking lot. NOTE: The gates open at 6:30 am.
From the Dead River Trail to the Lake Michigan shoreline with sand dunes and other habitats in between, IBSP provides a rich mix of birdlife, including breeding Brewer’s Blackbirds most years.
Leader: Kerry Swift (847) 323-6878
From US-41, turn east on Wadsworth Rd., drive 2 miles into the park, park in Nature Center lot.
Lake County’s largest forest preserve can be hopping with migrants on a good day, and last year yielded the first-ever state record of Painted Redstart.
From westbound Route 176, turn left (south) onto Fairfied Road. Within a 1/4 mile turn right (southwest) onto W. Ivanhoe Road. Do NOT turn left into the Lakewood Forest Preserve parking lot. Continue southwest on Ivanhoe Road about 1/4 mile to the first road on your left (past big white house on corner). This road is gravel and unnamed. Drive down this road to a small parking lot and public toilets. (Map)
Leader: Donna Kenski (847) 347-3474
Local songbird magnet for Mother’s Day. Lake County warbler hotspot along the Des Plaines River, a rich oak and maple woodland where migrants frequently land on their journey north.
Leader: Charlotte Pavelka & Doug Reitz (847) 347-8416
From Waukegan Rd., turn west on Everett Rd. in Lake Forest, drive to the end (St. Mary’s Rd), and turn left (south) into the parking lot. Meet in the parking lot at Everett and St. Mary’s Roads.
Great location for migrating and resident birds with a mix of woodland, wetland and prairie habitat. Trails are unpaved and can be muddy depending on weather. Sightings may range from warblers, vireos and other passerines to rails, waterfowl and Black-crowned Night Heron.
Take Willow Rd./Palatine Rd. west, turn north into preserve (Stover Rd.) one mile west of Barrington Rd. Meet in the main parking lot at 8:15 am. The gates open at 8 am so if you arrive early, park in the lot on the south side of Palatine Road until the gates are open.
Leader: Dan Ellig 224 456 8011
Black-crowned Night Herons (BCNH) are endangered in Illinois and six other Great Lakes region states. Yet a breeding colony of these herons has thrived in Chicago’s Lincoln Park since 2007. Since their arrival, they have garnered significant conservation attention from various groups including the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute (UWI), whose researchers began monitoring the population in 2010.
Henry Adams, UWI’s Wildlife Management Coordinator, will discuss the history of the colony, including productivity trends, breeding phenology, and colony movement within Lincoln Park over the years. He will also explain plans for researching the herons’ movement, resource selection, and health in collaboration with Illinois Department of Natural Resources and University of Illinois Urbana Champaign to further conservation management planning for this endangered species.
This underbirded migrant hotspot was Lake County’s first forest preserve, created in 1961, and features five miles of trails along oak forest and wetlands.
Leader: Rena Cohen (847) 971-1107
Preserve is located on north side of Rte. 173 just east of Hwy. 41.
Park in the first parking lot on your right after you turn into the Preserve from Route 173
2023 Spring Gathering
May 19-21, 2023
Sponsored by Illinois Audubon Society
Co-hosted by McHenry County Audubon
Field Trips Guided by Red Hill Birding
Details & registration at Illinois Audubon Society website.
Our closest state park is a multi-habitat migrant trap that has recorded nearly 200 species, including more than 50 on the chapter field trip here last fall.
From I-94 tollway, exit IL-173/Rosecrans Rd, turn left on Rosecrans, drive 13 mi, turn left on Wilmot Rd.. then left into park. Follow signs to Park Office/Goldfinch Trail lot.
The trail beginning at the Des Plaines River canoe launch loops through woodland, savanna and wetland habitats that can be filled with a wide variety of bird species. One previous chapter walk here even yielded a Brewster’s Warbler, a hybrid Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warbler that is rarely reported in the Chicago area.
Preserve is on Wadsworth Rd., just east of US 41. Park at Canoe Launch entrance.
Leader: Kerry Swift (847) 323-6878
This Lake Forest Open Lands property – once part of the 1,000-acre Armour estate – includes restored wetlands, prairies and a large oak savanna that offer safe harbor to migrants. The preserve sits adjacent to Middlefork Savanna, which can be accessed from Mellody Farm trails.
Leader: Maureen Marsh 352-317-5130
The entrance to Mellody Farm Nature Preserve is located at the southwest corner of Deerpath and Waukegan Roads (350 North Waukegan Road). Entrance is 200 yards south of the intersection at the Conservation Campus sign.
This beautiful woodland and wetland preserve in DeKalb County is worth the drive for opportunities to spot species like Alder Flycatcher and Ring-necked Pheasant that rarely visit Lake and Cook counties as well as songbirds, rails and shorebirds.
Leader: Karen Lund (847) 533-2627
Turn into the main entrance on the east side of Crego Road south of Perry Road, then drive all the way back to the large parking lot.
As one of the largest grassland-wetland ecosystems on earth, the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota is one of North America’s richest birding hotspots. With local birders as our guides, we will spend 3 days in the Prairie Pothole Region and 2 days in the short-grass prairie of western ND near the North Dakota Badlands – including Theodore Roosevelt National Park and an area that has been designated as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.
Target birds include Sprague’s Pipit, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Baird’s Sparrow, Red-necked Grebe, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Lazuli Bunting, Black-headed Grosbeak, Gray Partridge, Mountain Bluebird, Bullock’s Oriole and many more.
Registration required. Email email@example.com for trip details.