The weekend of September 23 - 25 I traveled to Chicago for a hematology conference. When making my plans I easily recalled my last visit to Chicago in October, 2009 and the great two hours of birding I enjoyed in one of Chicago's numerous lakeside parks.
This time I planned to make an effort to visit the famous "magic hedge" in Lincoln Park. I found out where it was located and, as it happens, it was an easy trip on the red line of the "L" - stop at Wilson Avenue. From the Wilson Avenue "L" station the Lincoln Park area of the magic hedge was a many block walk though a so-so neighborhood - took me approximately 15-20 minutes. It was a hot and very windy afternoon so less than ideal birding conditions, but this was my one chance during this visit to at least see the area. Once I arrived in the park, I had to find the hedge. I had a rudimentary map and I just continued walking in the direction suggested by the map.
I began seeing birds well before arriving at the hedge. The first was a Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulalus) that I was not able to photograph. Other photos are below.
|Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum)|
|Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)|
|Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina)|
Finally, I arrived at the magic hedge. As far as birds go it was very quiet. I saw a flycatching Eastern Wood Pewee, a Swainson's Thrush and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet below. In other shubbery around the hedge, there were more Palm Warblers and a few other birds that escaped identification.
I could easily see how the magic hedge would be a great birding location during peak and good migration conditions - either spring or fall. I didn't have much luck this time but I now know where it is and how to get there for future visits.
|Another Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the "magic hedge"|
The magic hedge is very near the beach and great dune-like, scrubby habitat. It was not birdy for me - again, a few Palm Warblers - but also easy to see how great birds could be discovered here.
|Wilson Avenue "L" stop platform|
With my remaining free time, I had to look much closer to my hotel for other places to bird. The hotel was just a couple of blocks walk from Millennium Park, Grant Park and a lakeside park - don't know which - with a marina. Much of the green area is very manicured, but Chicago seems to be trying to improve this and I found large areas of habitat such as above in Millennium Park. It was full of sparrows, mostly White-throated but also a couple of Lincoln's, and goldfinches, chickadees and a Palm Warbler.
In a wooded area, I also found a couple of Yellow-breasted Sapsuckers. It was very dark and overcast and a light rain fell on this morning of birding.
At the end of the day on Friday, the sun came out and I returned to the park for a couple more hours of birding. Several warbler species, more sparrows, sapsuckers and thrushes were seen in the tall trees of habitat shown in the photo above - manicured, but many trees.
On the walk back to the hotel, in the shaded courtyards of the Chicago Art Museum there were both Swainson's and Gray-cheeked thrush, Wilson's Warbler and resident cardinals still with begging young.
Chicago: nice place to bird.