The Forest Preserves of Cook County offers hotspots like Eggers Grove, a hidden gem for birding on Chicago’s Southeast Side
September 6, 2022 — Deep on the South Side of Chicago, nestled among industry and residential communities, Eggers Grove provides a vibrant and thriving habitat for hundreds of bird species. Here, visitors can spot yellow warblers, song sparrows, and marsh birds such green herons, great blue herons and great egrets.
This morning, Cook County Board and Forest Preserves of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Forest Preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall, Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, Audubon Great Lakes Executive Director and Vice President Michelle Parker, and Friends of the Forest Preserves Senior Field Organizer Gloria Orozco visited Eggers Grove to encourage people to explore the preserves during the annual fall bird migration.
“Birding is a relaxing, at times exhilarating activity that anyone can enjoy. Everyone benefits from being out in nature, and everyone is welcome in the Forest Preserves,” President Preckwinkle said. “All year long this is a birding hotspot, and in the coming weeks, visitors can see many of the waterfowl and songbirds that travel through our region.”
Twice each year, millions of birds pass through Chicagoland—in spring and fall—traveling to and from winter breeding grounds. Cook County is located along the Mississippi Flyway, a route that connects Canada and the United States to locations in Mexico, Central and South America. Year-round, 250 different bird species have been documented at Eggers Grove, using the healthy woodland and wetland habitat as places to rest and refuel during their long, dangerous journeys.
“Staff, volunteers and partners work at Forest Preserve sites across Cook County to restore our natural lands to support vibrant natural ecosystems. We now have more than 14,000 acres under restoration or active management. These are places that provide native and migrating birds with the shelter and food they need,” said General Superintendent Randall.
At the 240-acre Eggers Grove site, years of restoration re-established a landscape of wooded ridges and long, narrow wetlands filled with sedges and marsh grasses. Efforts included a partnership between the Forest Preserves, The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Great Lakes to install a new water control structure that recreates the historic seasonal changes at the site’s wetlands, before industry and other development radically altered the hydrology of the Calumet region.
“Thanks to the restoration efforts at Eggers Grove, more native bird species are utilizing the diverse habitats here. These efforts are multiplied by similar wetland restoration across Calumet, which are supporting a return of regionally declining marsh bird species like the pied-billed grebe,” Parker said. “Birds are important ecological indicators that tell us about the health of our environment—by protecting birds and the places they need, we also protect the places that people and other wildlife rely on.”
For birders, the result is a special place where 250 different species of birds have been spotted. “Birding at Eggers Grove is like playing the lottery and knowing for sure you will win. Every time you come birding, you don’t exactly know who will be out there, but you just know it will be worth it,” said Orozco, who leads and participates in birding days at several forest preserves in the Calumet Region.
Forest Preserves naturalists will hold bird walk events at Eggers Grove this fall on September 20, October 6 and November 10. For more information on these and other events across the Forest Preserves, visit fpdcc.com/events.
For more information on how to Bird the Preserves—including a checklist of birds to watch for, bird-of-the-month profiles, and how you can help birds survive and thrive—visit fpdcc.com/birding/.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.