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Wooded Island Bird Walk

  • Wooded Island, Jackson Park 6401 South Stony Island Avenue Chicago, IL, 60637 United States (map)

Hello to All,

The Spring Bird Count in Illinois will wear out any birder who volunteers to count every species and the number of each species seen during their field survey. It is worth the effort? I would say yes, even though I am recuperating from hours of standing, walking and jotting down sightings in the company of two dozen birders. 

The first Spring Bird Count (SBC) was initiated by a legendary birder Chandler Robbins. The year was 1959.  Under Chandler Robbins tutelage, Vern Kleen organized the first Illinois statewide SBC in 1969.  Not all 102 counties in Illinois had a complier, and still does not, but it was a beginning, and it grew in observers and counties represented in the coming years.

With the support of the Illinois Audubon Society, headquartered in Springfield, IL, with chapters throughout the State, the first organized Statewide SBC took placed on Saturday, May 6, 1972. 650 observers reported their bird counts within 62 counties.

Alan Anderson of the Chicago Audubon Society, sponsor of The Weekly Wooded Island Bird Walks, is the overall complier for Cook County. That is one big job! Cook County has the highest concentration of birders in Illinois.  Alan has a tremendous task of collating the data.

The SBC data base dates back to 1975.  For more information see the link below.

BIRDERS:      25        (1) Jennie S. – official registrar of participants, clipboard included. (2) Marian N. from Indiana, (3) Bruce McC – northsider, (4) Jose M. – Hyde Park local and new birder, (5) Christina H. and (6) Ben H. who had a hard time pulling himself away from seeing so many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in the oak grove, east of the Purple Martin Houses. (7) Karin D. – Wooded Island Regular, (8) Maddie McL. – a transplanted U of C doctoral graduate now conducting “digs” in South Bend, IN for post-doctoral research, (9) Erin C. – Wooded Island Irregular, (10) Steve B. – faithful Wooded Island Birder, (11) Matt S. and his son (12) Caleb – who Steve B predicts will be a future leader of the Walks. Caleb kept us all focused on the birds and all things birding, (13) Eliot P. – son of the late professor and activist,  Dale Pontius, who birded Wooded Island all of his adult life, which came to an end after 100+ years. Dale’s ashes are scattered on Wooded Island, along with the ashes of many lovers of this special place. (14) Sophia L, (15) David P., (16) P.J. W., (17) Marek P., (18) Emily B., (19) Patrick M., (20) Doug S. and (21) canine companion, baked doggie treat seeking; birder loving; senior Golden Retriever; the one and only “Copper.” (22) Randy S. – encountered on Wooded Island for brief sighting exchange. Randy is the complier for the Jackson Park SBC. He began his day along the lakefront, witnessing the “rose red fingers of dawn,” a nod to Homer. (23) Paul C and (24) Liz M. – on a similar day’s mission as Randy S., and (25) Pat D.

TIME:             8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

PLACES:        Wooded Island, Lagoon, Soccer Field & Bobolink Meadow

DISTANCE:    2 miles

WEATHER:    Sunny. Temperature 51 – 59 F. Wind North 5 – 14 mph


1.     Canada Goose  24

2.     Blue-winged Teal  2     A pair, male & female in the East Lagoon. Maybe the same pair seen last week.

3.     Mallard  12

4.     Red-breasted Merganser  1

5.     Chimney Swift  4

6.     Killdeer  1     Heard east of Museum of Science & Industry.

7.     Ring-billed Gull  5

8.     Caspian Tern  3

9.     Double-crested Cormorant  9     Fly overs

10.  Green Heron  3     Two near the Japanese Garden. The last was seen perched in a tree on Turtle Island.

11.  Black-crowned Night-Heron  3     Perched on branches overhanging the south end of Wooded Island.

12.  Cooper's Hawk  2     A Cooper's Hawk swooped down to the ground in Bobolink Meadow where birders had just passed by.

13.  Red-headed Woodpecker  2     Believe to be two birds. One was along the soccer field and then flew and landed on a snag on Wooded Island. The other was working the trees at the north end of Bobolink Meadow. Both were adults.

14.  Northern Flicker  3

15.  Eastern Phoebe  1

16.  American Crow  2

17.  Purple Martin  10     The birds were choosing which apartment to rent for the summer in the multi-family white houses.

18.  Tree Swallow  6

19.  Barn Swallow  12

20.  Cliff Swallow  5

21.  White-breasted Nuthatch  1

22.  House Wren  2     Jennie S. said that the wren was making a home in the light fixture near the Japanese Garden, as it had done in past years

23.  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10

24.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet  13

25.  Hermit Thrush  5

26.  American Robin  17

27.  Gray Catbird  6

28.  Brown Thrasher  3

29.  European Starling  5

30.  House Finch  1

31.  American Goldfinch  6

32.  Chipping Sparrow  9

33.  White-crowned Sparrow  1

34.  White-throated Sparrow  18

35.  Song Sparrow  1

36.  Baltimore Oriole  1     Seen by Jennie S.

37.  Red-winged Blackbird  7

38.  Brown-headed Cowbird  3

39.  Common Grackle  1

40.  Northern Waterthrush  2     The first was seen along the water's edge just north of the Japanese Garden. The second was seen trapezing along a branch overhanging the water at the south end of Wooded Island. Same branches where the Black-crowned Night Herons were roosting, and the Prothonotary Warbler lurked in the background branches.

41.  Prothonotary Warbler  1     Observed for a prolonged time period by five birders, field guides in hand. The all yellow warbler lurked mostly in the background of the branches overhanging the water at the south end of Wooded Island.  I went back to get the group to come see the Red-headed Woodpecker, but they would not budge.  They found this special warbler and were staying with it.  I saw the yellow bird but could not confirm identity.  I had seen it earlier but was focused on the Northern Waterthrush  walking along the same branches.  The Group of Five would swear on a stack of various sacred texts that this indeed was the favored Prothonotary Warbler, and therefore, was accepted on the group checklist. The habitat was surely right for this elusive and sought after warbler.

42.  Nashville Warbler  6     Seen in short trees bordering the Museum west open parking lot.

43.  Common Yellowthroat  5

44.  Yellow Warbler  12

45.  Palm Warbler  7

46.  Yellow-rumped Warbler  20

47.  Wilson's Warbler  1     A photographer showed us the picture taken a short time earlier in Bobolink Meadow.

48.  Northern Cardinal  2

49.  Rose-breasted Grosbeak  7     First notable bird of the day. More to come

50.  House Sparrow  1


This is a group report, with many birders contributing to the list. Most of the birds were seen by at least several or all of the birders.

Corrections, additions and comments are welcome.

Recordings are not used to attract birds.

This report will be documented 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. Newcomers are warmly welcomed. 

Darrow Bridge: Darrow Bridge has been barricaded by the Department of Transportation. A high black metal iron fence has been erected on all four sides. The fence will remain in place until Darrow Bridge is completely rebuilt, which could be several years away. The Bridge has been deemed unsafe.

Birders meet on the east side of Darrow Bridge.

Saturday morning walks: Start at 8:00 a.m. covers a distance of two miles.  Birders walk counterclockwise around the Columbia Basin (North Lagoon) onto Wooded Island. Exiting Wooded Island at the south end, the birders walk along the soccer field and enter the south end of Bobolink Meadow. The Meadow’s path leads to the Music Bridge and back to the East Parking Lot. In late fall, winter and early spring, the birders check for birds on the lakefront and Outer Harbor near LaRabida Hospital, and the Inner Harbor.

Metered parking is available in the East Parking Lot that is accessible from South Lake Shore Drive. There is a Stop Light at Science Drive. This Stop Light is approximately 200 yards south of the major intersection with signs for Museum of Science and Industry. Make a turn at the 57th Street and Science Drive 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.

Birders meet in the southwest corner of the East Parking Lot.

Parking and Lots: The East Parking Lot is preferred. There is also unmetered parking along Stony Island Avenue from 56th to 59th Street.

Best of Birding to All,                    

Patricia Durkin

Chicago Audubon Society Representative

Wooded Island Bird Walks

Earlier Event: May 4
Spring Bird Count 2019