This is a great time of year for birdwatching. Throughout the Forest Preserves of Cook County, approximately 120 bird species have been recorded during winter, including 57 migrants and 63 resident birds.
Interested in learning more about the mentioned bird species or to see photos of what they look like? Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Website.
Common local birds you are most likely to spot on a hike in the preserves or at your backyard bird feeder include:
- American Goldfinch
- Northern Cardinal
- Black-capped Chickadee
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- Blue Jay
- Several species of woodpeckers: Hairy, Downy and Red-bellied
- Great-horned and Screech Owl
- Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawk
- Bald Eagle
- American Kestrel
But you won’t just see resident birds in the forest preserves. There are a number of northern bird species that migrate through our area in the winter, using forest preserves to refuel and rest during their long migrations.
Common migrants include:
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Tree Sparrow
- White-throated Sparrow
- Common and Red-breasted Merganser
- Common Goldeneye
- Long-eared and Short-eared Owl
- Rough-legged Hawk
- Northern Harrier
Some migrant species are considered irruptive, meaning these species change their breeding or wintering sites from year to year. Depending on the year, you may also spot:
- Pine Siskin
- Red-breasted Nuthatch
- White-winged and Red Crossbill
- Purple Finch
- Common Redpolls
While it may be cold outside, that won’t stop you from seeing beautiful birds throughout the forest preserves. Winter biding also provides some benefits: there are fewer species to identify and it will help prepare new birders for the larger spring migration season.
To plan a self-guided birding excursion, visit our Birding Page.