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Wooded Island Bird Walk Report

Submitted by Jennie Strable on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 10:03am

Event date:

Saturday, January 24, 2015 - 10:00am 


Wooded Island

Hello to All,

The work crews were busy with compressor pumps and pipes, as the lagoons continue to be drained. Progress is being made. The lagoon water is being spilled into the 59th St. Marina. A waterfall of sorts has been created. Perhaps the splurge of rushing water will attract a Harlequin Duck.

Many trees have been cut down along Lake Shore Drive, from 57th to 63rd St. The area west looks wide open. The plan calls for a berm to be built along Lake Shore Drive that will diminish the sound of car wheels in motion.

The wood chip pile continues to grow. It is locatedon the grass at the southeast end of the East Lagoon. Attached is a photo of Mark Webster standing in front of the hill and Tobias Ginsburg on the top ridge.

We met Paul Clyne and Peter Page in the east parking lot. Paul told us of a juvenile Great Black-backed Gull in the Outer Harbor. We found it sleeping on an ice float at the south end of the Harbor. This bird is humongous in size in comparison to the Herring Gull. It looked like a grouse amongst the gulls. The soft white feather on the head and the pale brown checkered mantle distinguished it in feathering from a juvenile Herring Gull. But the size difference is very obvious: 30 inches for Big Boy compared to 25 inches for a Herring Gull.

After a group brunch at Salonica’s, I decided to see if the Snowy Owl was still at Wolf Lake. Yes it was! I spent some time with other birders, admiring this arctic visitor with yellow eyes and lightly speckled white plumage. I posted on IBET at 2 p.m. that it was just me with the Snowy Owl.

A Wooded Island birding buddy and photographer extraordinaire, Sid Padgaonkar, read the post on IBET. He had just returned to his home in Schaumburg, after an unsuccessful search for a Snowy Owl at Montrose and O’Hare Airport. Ten minutes later Sid was in the car and headed for Wolf Lake on the far southeast side of Chicago (122nd St. and Avenue O).  Traffic was much worse than Google predicted. Sid arrived at 4:20 p.m. and the real adventure began.

With the park rangers at his heels announcing closing time was near, and two coyotes running on the ice near the owl’s last known location; in the fading light Sid saw the Snowy Owl.  He almost dropped his new camera but did a midair dive to catch it as he raced to set up for a photo. Attached in one of Sid’s photo of the Beauty, in an over-the-shoulder glance in Sid’s direction, from across the Lake. It was about 5 p.m. when the photo was taken. Good Night, Sweet Beauty.

BIRDERS:         14.       Jennie S.,Randy S., KurtMark W., Tobias G., Karin C.Karin D.Mark and Sandra N. who will be traveling soon to the Himalayas including Nepal and Bhutan, Rick, a photographer from Portland, OR who has birded with us in the past; Edith H. who recently returned from a vacation in Costa Rica, where the birds are many but often well hidden;Leo and Carolyn H., and Pat D.

TIME:               8:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.         

PLACES:           Wooded Island, Bobolink Meadow, Lakefront & Outer Harbor

WEATHER:      Mostly sunny. Temperature 32 – 41 F., Winds West 5 – 10 mph.

TOTAL SPECIES COUNT:          19 + 1

X = commonly seen and/or not counted.

This is a group report, with many birders contributing to the list. Most of the birds were seen by a least several or all the birders. Mark Webster was our compiler shared his list for this report. Randy Shonkwiler shared his eBird Report for the Wooded Island/Bobolink Meadow segment.

Wooded Island/Bobolink Meadow and 59th St. Marina:

Canada Goose – many flyovers and others grass munching along the Marina.

Common Goldeneye – 1 male in the Marina.

Downy Woodpecker – 1. Male.

American Crow – 2.

Black-capped Chickadee – 6 in a flock on the eastside of Wooded Island who descended on the path and trees to check out the birders.

American Tree Sparrow – 12. Bobolink Meadow

Dark-eyed Junco – 3. Some were mixed with the flock of American Tree Sparrows

Northern Cardinal – 1. Male.


Common Goldeneye – several on Lake

Bufflehead – 1. Male

Common Merganser – 5

Red-breasted Merganser  - large rafts.

Outer Harbor:

Canada Goose


Mallard – 2. Male & Female.

Redhead Duck – 5.

Greater Scaup ~ 20

Common Goldeneye – 4.

Ring-billed Gull – X.

Herring Gull – 5.


American Crow – 4.

Wolf Lake ( 122nd and Avenue O, Chicago, IL)



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.  Come to Darrow Bridge to meet with the other birders.

Noteon Darrow Bridge: Darrow Bridge has been barricaded by the Department of Transportation but there are openings at each end that allows for foot traffic. The Bridge has been deemed unsafe. Birders continue to meet on Darrow Bridge at the start times, even during the multi-year restoration of Wooded Island and other areas within Jackson Park.

The Walks start at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, and at 7:15 a.m. on Wednesday. 

Birders gather on Darrow Bridge, which is located south of the Museum of Science and Industry.

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 near Darrow Bridge.

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 58th to 56th Street.

Best of Birding to All,

Patricia Durkin

Earlier Event: January 17
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: February 7
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report