Back to All Events

Wooded Island Bird Walk Report

Submitted by Jennie Strable on Mon, 07/13/2015 - 8:03pm

Event date:

Saturday, July 11, 2015 - 8:00am 



Greetings everyone,

I’m happy to report that the east lagoon is looking more like a lagoon these days rather than a barren wasteland.  The abundant rain has really helped to fill it back up.  Although we’re in the quiet summer period, we had some good looks at our favorite residents, saw a couple nests and observed some interesting bird behavior too.

Birders:  11; Tracy, Eric, Bruce, Marian, Leo, Carol, Jackie (a first-timer), Karin C., Karin D., Jennie, and for part of our walk, Paul.

Weather:  Hazy sun, temperatures in the 60s.

Below is the list of species that we saw.  The list is a combination of our group’s sightings and Paul’s e-bird checklist which he kindly sent me.  As many of you know, I’m not a lister, so just keeping the list in Pat’s absence was quite a feat for me, so I didn’t even try and keep counts of individuals.  For those of you with a more scientific view of birding than me, please check out e-bird.  For those of you who, like me, enjoy the beauty and interesting behavior of the birds, I’ve included a few of my observations.

  • Double-crested Cormorant.  The more robust lagoons must have brought them back, because they were swimming and were perching in the cormorant tree again!

  • Great Blue Heron.  At one point we heard a loud squawk, and saw a Great Blue chasing a Black-crowned Night Heron above the west shoreline of the east lagoon.  I don’t know what that BCNH did to anger the Great Blue, but the Blue made quick work of his rival!

  • Green Heron

  • Black-crowned Night Heron

  • Canada Goose

  • Mallard.  Including a mom with 4 ducklings

  • Cooper’s Hawk

  • Kildeer

  • Spotted Sandpiper

  • Ring-billed Gull

  • Caspian Tern.  One was flying low over the lagoon, skimming water with his bill to get a drink, I assume.  I’ve never seen a tern do that before so that was fun to see.

  • Rock Pigeon

  • Monk Parakeet (one – they’re becoming a bit of a rarity in Jackson Park these days)

  • Black-billed Cuckoo.  Heard in Bobolink Woods

  • Downy Woodpecker

  • Great-crested Flycatcher

  • Willow Flycatcher

  • Eastern Phoebe

  • Eastern Kingbird

  • Warbling Vireo

  • Red-eyed Vireo

  • American Crow

  • Purple Martin

  • Northern Rough-Winged Swallow

  • Tree Swallow

  • Barn Swallow

    • The swallows love to perch in the dead tree on Heron Island.  We may have to change the name to Swallow Island.

  • Chimney Swift

  • Black-capped Chickadee

  • White-breasted Nuthatch

  • House Wren.  Many heard, none seen.

  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.  Paul showed us the nest in one of the trees near the Purple Martin houses.  We saw mom sitting on the nest and dad nearby.  Mom did leave for a bit and when she returned she looked like she might have been feeding a chick, but then she settled back down so we’re not sure if one or more chicks have hatched or not. 

  • Eastern Bluebird.  Paul showed us this nest too – a cavity in a tree near the driving range.  We saw both mom and dad perched on the dead branch.  Paul saw them go in the nest earlier in the morning, so we’ll be watching for Bluebird babies too!

  • American Robin

  • Gray Catbird

  • European Starling

  • Cedar Waxwing

  • Yellow Warbler (heard)

  • Northern Cardinal

  • Indigo Bunting (heard)

  • Song Sparrow

  • House Sparrow

  • Brown-headed Cowbird

  • Red-winged Blackbird.  I saw one with almost no feathers on his face.  I’m not sure if he was molting or had some kind of health issue, but he was active and calling so I will assume that he’s OK.

  • Baltimore Oriole

  • House Finch.  Rather than red on his head and breast, this one looked truly orange.  Maybe it was the light, but many of us agreed that he looked orange.  Did we discover a new species?  J

  • American Goldfinch


  • Bullfrog (heard)

  • Turtle

Corrections, additions and comments are welcome.

Recordings are not used to attract birds.

This report will be recorded on eBird as a group report for the Wooded Island Bird Walks.

The Walks are free and open to one and all. They are held year round. Birders always show up near Darrow Bridge at the start times. Newcomers are warmly welcomed. 

Note on Darrow Bridge: Darrow Bridge has been barricaded by the Department of Transportation. No one can cross. A high black metal iron fence has been erected on all four sides. It appears that the fence will remain in place until Darrow Bridge is completely rebuilt, which could be more than a year. The Bridge has been deemed unsafe.

Birders meet in the East parking lot, and walk around the North Lagoon/Basin and across the south steps of the Museum to get to Wooded Island.

The Walks start at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Please note: The Wednesday morning Walks have been decommissioned. An informal group often meets, but the start time varies and the distance traveled can be curtailed.

Metered parking is available east of Darrow Bridge and is accessible from South Lake Shore Drive at 57th Street (labeled Science Drive on a small blue street sign). There is a Stop Light at 57th Street. Make a turn at the Stop Light towards the Museum. Turn Left (south) at the intersection of Science Drive and Columbia Drive. Go through the parking lot to the west end.

Note on Parking and Lots: While restoration is ongoing, heavy equipment has taken over half of the east parking lot, off of South Lake Shore Drive, and half of the southwest parking lot which has an entrance off of Hayes Drive (63rd St.) and just east of Cornell Drive. Birders will be able to find metered parking in both lots. The east lot is the preferred one, as it is located nearest the Darrow Bridge. The southwest parking lot would require that the entire Wooded Island be walked northward, and to cross the North Bridge to reach Darrow Bridge.  There is also unmetered parking along Stony Island Avenue from 59th to 56th Street.

Good Birding everyone,


Earlier Event: June 27
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: July 18
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report