Birding Walks and Birding Locations in Chicago. When you live in a major city such as Chicago, getting out among nature is a relaxing, rewarding activity and birding and hiking are two great ways to reconnect with what’s important in life. There are a number of places and organizations with which you can connect.

To get the Chicago Region Birding Trail Guide (free)

Chicago Orinthological Society – $20 to join

Chicago Audubon Society

Birds Walk at Jackson Park every Saturday at 8am. Meet at Clarence Darrow Bridge just south of the Museum of Science and Industry. From Lake Shore Drive turn west on Science Drive, which is the stop light at 5800 South. Turn left at the stop sign. Travel through the parking lot to the west end where you’ll find Darrow Bridge. As is becoming customary in the lakefront parks, the parking lot is now metered.

Chicago Magazine’s Recommendations

Spring Bluff Nature Preserve: Crisscrossed by ridges and swales, this 274-acre preserve is home to sandpipers, rails, sparrows, bitterns, and snipe (situated just south of the Wisconsin state line near the junction of Sheridan Road and Main Street, 847-968-3329; no cars permitted, so enter the preserve through the gate at the south end of the parking lot for the North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor).

Illinois Beach State Park: With forest, marsh, grassland, and beach habitats, this seven-mile-long shoreline park attracts a wide variety of birds; head here in the fall when the winds are out of the west to spot falcons and hawks (on the lakefront off Wadsworth Road in Zion; 847-662-4811).

Montrose Point:The Rick’s Cafe of Chicago birding sooner or later, every bird shows up here this peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan boasts the internationally renowned Magic Hedge, a 150-yard strip of trees and shrubs that once bordered a Nike missile base(the hedge is on a small hill east of Harbor Drive in Montrose Harbor).

Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary: Surrounded by an eight-foot-high fence, this six-acre site is closed to human visitors, who can take advantage of the viewing platform on the sanctuary’s east side. More than 150 species are visible throughout the year, including the black-crowned night heron, which often roosts here (on the lakefront behind the totem pole at Addison Street).

Northerly Island: Sightings of the majestic snowy owl are not uncommon on this 91-acre man-made peninsula (at Lake Shore Drive and McFetridge Drive; access via Solidarity Drive, south of the John G. Shedd Aquarium).

Wooded Island: More than 250 species have been spotted at this Jackson Park destination; look for black rails and monk parakeets (access via the Clarence Darrow Bridge south of the Museum of Science and Industry; birding tours begin at the bridge Wednesday mornings at 7 and Saturdays at 8).

South Shore Cultural Center Nature Sanctuary: A boardwalk leads birders through the mixed habitats wetlands, prairies, and dunes of this 4.27-acre site, where fruit-bearing trees have been planted specifically to lure birds. The circular limestone benches were designed by the Midwestern landscape architect Jens Jensen (7059 South Shore Drive, south
of the field house; 773-256-0149)

Hegewisch Marsh: Though several miles inland and surrounded by industry, this terrific birding site is classified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a coastal wetland because of its proximity to Lake Michigan. Threatened with extinction, yellow-headed blackbirds nest and raise their young here (at 130th Street and Torrence Avenue).

Miller Woods: Situated within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, this 75-acre preserve features a short trail leading through wetlands and oak savanna (start your tour at the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education, 20 North Lake Street, Gary; 219-926-7561, ext. 22

Birding Walks and Locations in Chicago