Back to All Events

Wooded Island Bird Walk Report

Submitted by Jennie Strable on Sun, 05/03/2015 - 8:31pm

Event date:

Saturday, May 2, 2015 - 8:00am to 10:00am 



Hello to All,

“Spring  - an experience in immortality”, wrote Henry David Thoreau.  Imagine Henry strolling through Eternal Spring with Dorothy Parker, who thought, “Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and ground all mucked up with plants.” Perhaps both shades were with us on our Walk this morning. Henry would have the greater fan club.

beaver was seen by Karin Cassel near Turtle Island. Then most of the other birders spotted it too before it submerged.

An apparent errant racing pigeon was seen napping in a tree at the north end of Bobolink Meadow. Its feathers were gray upon gray. An inch long green bangle was on one foot.

We stopped to talk with two of the work crew who were minding a pump near the Music Bridge. They said that the lagoons will be allowed to refill naturally in a few weeks. The gates underneath the Music Bridge will be opened. The workmen had heard about the birder, Carl who got stuck, up to his waist, in the muck, and was saved by his tripod. Carl was attempting to photograph a Yellow Warbler earlier this week. He gingerly stepped toward an Island. The mudflat gave only an inch underfoot, until it suddenly gave way up to his waist. After extricating himself from the muck, Carl valiantly continued to bird, caked in drying mud. His spirit, if not his action of walking on mudflats, is an example to us all.

BIRDERS:      20.       Bruce M., Miriam N. from Indiana, Alan S. and his son Ben from Evanston, first time birders to Wooded Island, Tonya P. and her daughter Amber from the Beverly neighborhood, also first time birders to Wooded Island. Both Amber and Ben show signs of budding naturalists. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time in the field, and sharing sightings with the other birders. Mary Nell M. and Eric S., who will be leading the Washington Park Bird Walks during migration, Jennie S., Eric G., Mark W., Dave K. and Lindsey K., Jenny P. and Dom F., Simon R., David B., and Pat D. We met Randy Shonkwiler at the end of our Walk. He and Mark Webster exchanged sightings.

TIME:             8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.         

PLACES:        Bobolink Meadow back and forth. Mudflats of East Lagoon.

WEATHER:    Sunny. Temperature 59 – 63 F. Light variable winds.


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 and Eric Ginsburg contributed their sightings for this group list.

  1. Canada Goose – X. Pairs are still around. Numbers are few. Limited nesting sites during restoration.

  2. Wood Duck – 1. Male

  3. Gadwall – 1. Male. North Lagoon/Basin.

  4. Mallard – X.

  5. Blue-winged Teal – 7. Male & female.

  6. Bufflehead – 1. Female. In proximity of male Hooded Merganser.

  7. Hooded Merganser – 1. Male. Handsome fellow. Can’t blame the female Bufflehead for being befuddled.

  8. Double-crested Cormorant – 1. Fly over.

  9. Black-crowned Night Heron – 1. Perched in a maple in the Japanese Garden.

  10. Osprey – 1. Fly over of Darrow Bridge. Reported by Mark W.

  11. Red-tailed Hawk – 1. Juvenile. Perched in a tree north and adjacent to the Bobolink Meadows cluster of pine trees.

  12. American Coot – 2.

  13. Spotted Sandpiper – 1.

  14. Solitary Sandpiper – 6. Not “solitary” today on the mudflats.

  15. Lesser Yellowlegs – 4.  Rare for lagoons, but the mudflats bid them welcome.

  16. Pectoral Sandpiper – 1.

  17. Least Sandpiper – 1.

  18. Ring-billed Gull – X.

  19. Caspian Tern – 2. Diving in the waters of the 59th St. Marina.

  20. Monk Parakeet – X. Heard.

  21. Chimney Swift – 1.

  22. Belted Kingfisher – 1.

  23. Downy Woodpecker – 2.

  24. Northern Flicker – 2.

  25. Emp. Species – 1. Possible Least Flycatcher.

  26. Eastern Phoebe – 1.

  27. Warbling Vireo – 2.

  28. Blue Jay – 30. Two flocks flew into the woods from the south. Not common in Jackson Park. Seen in migration.

  29. American Crow – 2. Not around to harass the Red-tailed Hawk.

  30. Purple Martin – X. At their houses. Seen in flight nearby.

  31. Tree Swallow – X. Small flock.

  32. N. Rough-winged Swallow – X.

  33. Cliff Swallow – 2.

  34. Barn Swallow – X.

  35. Black-capped Chickadee – 2.

  36. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 4. Others heard.

  37. Hermit Thrush – 5.

  38. American Robin – X.

  39. European Starling – X. Fly overs.

  40. Nashville Warbler – 1.

  41. Yellow Warbler – 4.

  42. Palm Warbler – 2.

  43. Northern Waterthrush – 3.

  44. Chipping Sparrow – 1.

  45. Savannah Sparrow – 1.

  46. Song Sparrow – X.

  47. Swamp Sparrow – 1.

  48. White-throated Sparrow – X. Small flocks.

  49. White-crowned Sparrow – 1. Singing.

  50. Northern Cardinal – 3.

  51. Red-winged Blackbird – X. Muddy from walking the mudflats.

  52. Common Grackle – X. Small flocks.

  53. Brown-headed Cowbird – 1. Others heard.

  54. Baltimore Orioles – 2. Their rich orange bounced off the morning sun.

  55. House Finch – 1.

  56. American Goldfinch – 1. In breeding splendor.

  57. House Sparrow – 1. Took up residence in a Purple Martin condo. Evection forthcoming.

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. 

Noteon 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. Wooded Island is inaccessible due to a high screened chain linked fence around the entire area. The lagoons continue to be drained. The mudflats have attracted shorebird species rarely found in the lagoon areas.  Despite these limitations, birders continue to see birds while walking back and forth in Bobolink Meadow.

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 58th to 56th Street.

Best of Birding to All,                    

Patricia Durkin

Earlier Event: April 25
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: May 9
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report