About Birds and Birding
Birds are a great connection to nature for urban dwellers. They are lively and interesting, and can be found in every local park and preserve. There are about 300 birds that can be seen right here in the Chicago area. Audubon has a website that will help you get started.
You can start looking for birds anyplace. Soon you’ll be curious about what you are seeing. Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society both have bird identification sites, with calls, distribution maps, and other facts about our birds. The free Merlin bird identification app can help you to narrow down your choices in the field - it is made for newer birders.
Where to go
Going on birding field trips is the best way to learn more. Birders are a welcoming group, and there are lots of them in the Chicago area. Join Chicago Audubon Society for a field trip or bird walk. Hotspots like Montrose Point and Jackson Park’s Wooded Island are usually full of birders on good migration days. And check out this calendar to find other local field trips.
Chicago is full of local birders. Find them in the field and on social media. Chicago Audubon Society has a Facebook page and a group where you can see local conservation news and great photos of the birds that are in the area. Illinois Birding Network is another great Facebook group for new birders. A listserv, Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts, delivers daily sightings to your inbox.
Practice, Practice, Practice
In the daytime, there's birding - and in the nighttime, there's online quizzes! Here's a link to a very comprehensive site – it has different level quizzes and links to online practice quizzes, and it covers the birds of our region and not too many others
Once you start to identify some birds, join eBird, an online data repository where many birders post their sightings. You can find out what birds are being seen and who is birding near you on a daily basis. You might even find an illustrated bird checklist for your local park !
Header Photo: 2018 Photography Awards, Fourth Place Honorable Mention: Yellow-rumped Warbler, by John Picken