Back to All Events

Wooded Island Bird Walk

  • Wooded Island, Jackson Park Chicago, IL (map)

Hello to All,

The reports from Jennie and me maybe sporadic, but the Walks have continued every Saturday morning. Amazing how birders and those who wish for some time outdoors in the company of nature lovers, get up early on a Saturday morning and head to Jackson Park. 

This week, Doug S. the companion to Copper, our bird dog, took a series of photos of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk who captured a squirrel on the sidewalk near Cornell Drive. The last photo was remarkable, with the hawk taking off and the tail of the squirrel hanging below its tail.  This morning, as we neared the west side of Darrow Bridge, the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk sailed over our heads and landed in a tree on the NW corner of Darrow Bridge.  As we stood looking at the young and very large hawk, the bird hopped down to a hole in the trunk and pulled out the remains of a squirrel! That showed us all that the hawk knew how to store a cache of food and remembered where to find it. We left the hawk feasting on its frozen left overs.

Belted Kingfisher has remained near Wooded Island for the past several weeks.  There are still pockets of open water.  What a chatty bird he is! Like the Piping Plover wintering over at Montrose Beach, this Kingfisher has staked a claim to Jackson Park.

coyote was seen on the soccer field, but slipped away from the birders, as domestic dogs occupied the field.

I wanted to show the group a beautiful tree sculpture made in recent weeks by a beaver.  The gnawing was at the base of a near dead and girdled tree on the SE area of the Island, between the sidewalk and the East Lagoon.  To add to the comic sighting, was the wired fence the surrounded the dead tree.  It’s a Chicago thing to protect dead trees with fences.

Then I got the brainy idea to have us cut through what was once the premier birding spot on Wooded Island.  It was called the “Rose Garden.” The cyclone fence was removed long ago, when so called “restoration” work began, with heavy equipment.  With Eric G. in the lead, we bushwhacked our way through the place once so divine for birding.  The surrounding trees held so many birds. One would merely have to stand in the middle and scan the trees and grasses. Today the area is overgrown with thistle and “weeds” shoulder high. David had to rescue me a couple of times from the dense vegetation.  So what was accomplished with the millions of dollars spent on Wooded Island?  The new concrete walk is good for access with disabilities in walking.  The outlooks were a total waste of money.  I better end here on the topic of “restoration.”

BIRDERS:      11        (1) Steve B, (2) Marian N., (3) Jennie S., (4) Eric G., (5) Renate G., (6) Rick R., (7) David P. (8) Naomi P., (9) Karin D, (10) Catherine G, (11) Pat D.

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

PLACES:        Wooded Island, Lagoons, Bobolink Meadow, Quick scans of lakefront, Outer and Inner Harbor.

DISTANCE:    2 miles

WEATHER:    Cloudy. Light snow began to fall at the start of the Walk and continued throughout the day and evening.  Weather advisory was issued 2 to 4 inches of snow accumulation. Temperature 32 – 33 F., Moderate wind off the lake.

TOTAL SPECIES COUNT:   16 (+1 other taxa)

  1. Canada Goose  163     Thanks to Steve B. for counting.

  2. Redhead  2     Outer Harbor

  3. Greater/Lesser Scaup  6     Both Harbors.

  4. Common Goldeneye  4     Inner Harbor

  5. Hooded Merganser  2     Inner Harbor.

  6. Red-breasted Merganser  2     East Lagoon in limited area of open

  7. Ring-billed Gull  3

  8. Red-tailed Hawk  1     Juvenile

  9. Belted Kingfisher  1     Flying while chatting away from West to East Lagoons.

  10. Downy Woodpecker  1

  11. Northern Flicker  2     One was heard by Eric near Darrow Bridge. The other was seen in Bobolink Meadow.

  12. American Crow  5     Near LaRabida Hospital - Outer Harbor.

  13. Black-capped Chickadee  3

  14. American Goldfinch  2

  15. Dark-eyed Junco  6     Parking lot south of Museum.

  16. White-throated Sparrow  3

  17. Northern Cardinal  4

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 DriveThis 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 59thStreet.

Best of Birding to All,                    

Patricia Durkin

Chicago Audubon Society Representative

Earlier Event: November 24
Wooded Island Bird Walk Report
Later Event: February 10
Wooded Island Bird Walk