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Experience Birding In The Cook County Forest Preserves!

Did you know that just after dusk in late March and early April, the male timberdoodle performs a strange mating ritual? Or that Baltimore orioles have a serious sweet tooth in spring and fall? The native and migrating birds spotted in the Forest Preserves of Cook County are as diverse and interesting as the Forest Preserves themselves.

Throughout 2016, the Forest Preserves invites visitors to take advantage of frequent opportunities to view some of the most interesting and spectacular birds in the preserves. Odd mating dances, unbelievable migrations and interesting birds including ruby-throated hummingbirds and red-bellied woodpeckers will take center stage at bird walks, festivals and informational programs across Cook County.

Each month, a new bird will be highlighted. Visitors will have the opportunity to spot the bird of the month at an event or program, and learn what makes that bird so special. Numerous birding groups will also be hosting bird walks throughout the year. Visit to learn more about the multitude of birding opportunities.

In addition to enjoying birding programs and events, birders of all skill levels can explore the preserves with teams competing in the Forest Preserves' Big Year birding competition. During the Big Year competition, the preserves compete instead of the people. Participants will visit their team's preserve and log all bird sightings in eBird, an online birding checklist program. All are welcome to join these searches and binoculars will be available for loan.

The competition runs from March 1 to Dec. 31, and is a great way to challenge yourself and explore a local preserve, make new friends and experience what birding is all about. To learn more about the Big Year competition, visit

On May 7, each of the Forest Preserves' six nature centers will be hosting The Big Sit. Visitors can join in at any time between 5:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to see how many birds can be heard or spotted from within a 17-foot circle. Citizen science events like The Big Sit can help ecologists make better decisions about the conservation of bird habitat.

Join a growing movement of nature lovers and bird the preserves this year while enjoying the many amenities offered throughout the Forest Preserves, including miles of marked trails, major waterways that can be canoed or kayaked, dedicated nature preserves and more.

Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness.


Comments welcome.


Posted on March 1, 2016

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