Winter Season is Good Birding

A downy woodpecker. In the fall, downy woodpeckers often excavate several new roost holes in preparation for the coming winter. The photo is courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The Chicago River system is home to numerous birds to spot during the winter months. Birders in the Chicago River system can also help collect important data about bird species in the watershed using apps and other reporting tools.

Birds to Spot

A good source to track and record bird hot spots is which is managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The helpful website also has a list of the top spots in Illinois by bird species count; Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary in Chicago tops the list with Chicago’s Jackson Park and the Calumet region in the top 10.

Wildlife Framework Plan

Data collected through apps by local birders can help inform initiatives like our Wildlife Framework Plan. Friends is leading a collaborative multi-year process to significantly enhance the ecological function of the Chicago River system as a habitat zone for endangered native species, including many species of birds that are facing unprecedented challenges due to the climate crisis and habitat loss. Working directly with urban wildlife experts, Friends’ initiative has identified a list of species and location specific actions that we can take on together with our partners to improve the habitat health, connectivity, resiliency, and sustainability of the Chicago River system.

Friends’ website has more information about birds and other wildlife. Our partners at the Forest Preserves of Cook County host bird walks throughout the winter season at nature centers across the county including a walk at the Sand Ridge Nature Center in South Holland on December 15. In February, birders can also contribute data by participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count scheduled for Friday, February 18 through Monday, February 21.