Listen to the new episode of our podcast Inside, Out & About.

LaBagh Woods is one of the most important refuges for migrating birds in Chicago.

One of Chicago’s wildest places, beautiful LaBagh Woods on the city’s Northwest Side is the feature story of the new episode of Friends’ podcast Inside, Out & About which is available now on Friends’ website. 

Located on the Upper North Branch of the Chicago River, LaBagh Woods is host to diverse natural areas, including wooded landscapes, wetlands, savannas and sedge meadows. Known for exceptional birding opportunities, this site also offers picnic groves and large open fields. As a wooded riparian strip surrounded by dense urban development, LaBagh Woods is widely recognized as one of the most important refuges for migrating birds in Chicago.

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The site is named for Ella LaBagh, a Chicagoan who was a prominent member of the Irving Park Woman’s Club and worked to help establish the forest preserves, LaBagh Woods is home to all kinds of wildlife including mink, muskrats, foxes and coyotes. Volunteers have recorded 187 bird species, including more than 45 that nest at LaBagh, plus 20 mammal species, 30 species of butterflies, 22 types of dragonflies, four turtle species and two types of snakes. There are also 70-90 mushroom species and 200-300 native plant species.

In this episode Liza Lehrer, assistant director, Urban Wildlife Institute and Chicago lead at the Urban Wildlife Information Network, discusses our native bat species that like river-edge places such as LaBagh Woods and also provide all kinds of benefits for pollinating plants, and eat mosquitoes. Lehrer also discusses the work being done to protect bats that are unfortunately at conservation risk from habitat loss, insecticides, and white nose syndrome, a deadly disease which has been spreading across bat populations in North America. A key part of the story at LaBagh Woods is the incredible work of Centennial Volunteers who log thousands of ecological restoration hours at this site and at other river-edge forest preserves. Annette Anderson, Friends’ volunteer and events coordinator, and Aqsa Ali, Friends’ project planner, discuss the important volunteer program and its impact restoring special forest preserve sites along the Chicago and Calumet Rivers.

Inside, Out & About and the companion nature program on Friends’ website take people on a journey along the Chicago River system to deepen their connections with nature and increase their awareness of our natural areas. Each month throughout the year we will explore a new site. The podcast is hosted by Friends’ Executive Director Margaret Frisbie.

Previous episodes explore the Chicago Portage National Historic Site in Lyons, Kickapoo Woods in south suburban Riverdale, Beaubien Woods on the far South Side of Chicago, and Bubbly Creek. 

You can get the good physical and mental health benefits of being outdoors at an upcoming Beaubien Woods Celebration hosted by the Forest Preserves of Cook County on Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fun family activities include learning and practicing yoga, archery, bike safety, and cooking as well as canoeing, and arts and crafts. Also, you can learn more about the work of the Field Museum and the restoration work they’ve been doing at Beaubien Woods. Registration is required. Read more about the documented health benefits of getting outdoors in our spring-summer edition of the River Reporter.