Did you know that Lake County is a favorite spot for bird watching? Learn about some popular birding spots around the county, and some of the birds you can find there!
Spring Time Bird Watching in Lake County
By Guest Blogger: Luke Buckardt
Springtime is a wonderful time to bird Lake County, and all of the listed preserves and natural areas are bound to have an abundance of migrants and nesting birds. If you only have a half or full day, this route will take you through a variety of habitats, increasing your chance at seeing the greatest number of species.
Starting at Fort Sheridan forest preserve is a great way to get local access to Lake Michigan. It is best to bird the beach and adjacent ravine areas at first light, as this is a very popular location to walk dogs. The preserve opens at 6 am, and this is when you are most likely to find shorebirds and gulls. Search the beach for migrants such as willet, green-winged teal and plover species. The ravine will provide great fallout from migration, and can attract many species of warbler, vireo, and thrush. This is also a great place to find resident red-headed woodpecker and eastern bluebird.
Just a 10-minute drive takes you to Ryerson Conservation Area in Deerfield, IL. This preserve is superb during the spring season due to its high quality woodland and access to the Des Plaines River. The Brushwood Center parking lot is a great place to start birding, as this is often where the sunlight first hits the woods. Walk along the river trail, keeping an eye open for pockets of migrant warblers and thrushes. Over 250 species of bird have been recorded at RCA, so keep a sharp eye on the varied habitats.
Independence Grove forest preserve is located a few miles north in Libertyville, IL. It offers a lake and oak-hickory savannah, giving new habitat to your trip. The lake, an old quarry, collects hundreds of ducks, geese and grebes. Common loon is also partial to the lake at Independence Grove. Driving to the far north parking lot can offer looks at many nesting specialties, such as the Warbling Vireo and Orchard Oriole.
Northwest of this stop lies Almond Marsh forest preserve. It is a great place to see marsh birds during the springtime, as well as many nesting birds throughout the summer. You must get permission to enter this preserve (contact the Lake County Forest Preserves District for more details), but it is well worth it. Nesting black-crowned night heron, green heron and common moorhen are all specialties to Lake County. See Info Rookery Event for fun Heron themed activities!
Depending on your availability, any or all of these locations are worth birding in the spring, particularly peak migration. It would be feasible to reach over 100 species on a good day just going to these four locations. No matter where you go in Lake County, spring is a great time to see myriad birds!