Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Magical Place

The minute we thought that we had seen just about everything there was to see in Chicago, Iwanski and I discovered something new.

Twice now, we have visited my new favorite place in Chicago: The Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, on the city’s north side. I love love love this place! It’s a large, beautiful forested area with many trees and tall grasses, and a variety of unique birds and other woodland animals.

When Iwanski and I first found out about the bird sanctuary a couple of weeks ago, we were astounded to find that it was so big, and so secluded-feeling. The numerous walking trails weave through fifteen acres of beautiful forest and prairie grasses—I’m quite sure you could get lost there (or at least I could, since I was seemingly born with no sense of direction), if it weren’t for the lake that comes into view every now and then. I’m telling you, I thank God for Lake Michigan. It has helped me find my way many times in this city. (And actually, the stretch of the Lake Michigan beach near the walking trails is a part of the bird sanctuary, as well.)

Anyway, my very favorite part of the bird sanctuary is an area called “The Magic Hedge,” a 150-yard stretch of shrubs and trees that is called “magic” because it attracts an amazingly high number of migratory birds. And believe me, we’ve seen the magic at work. Just in the two weeks we’ve been there, we’ve seen at least twelve different types of birds, as well as several other forest creatures.

Today, as we arrived at the Magic Hedge, we almost immediately saw some unique yellow birds, a black bird with yellow and orange/red on it (which I later found out was called a “red start”), a pair of frolicking chipmunks, and two fat rabbits. As we continued through the Magic Hedge, trying to be quiet so as not to scare off any birds, I whispered to Iwanski, “I feel like I’m in the movie Snow White.” Seriously, it just really seemed magical to me.

So without further adieu, I would like to share some pictures that Iwanski took within our past two visits to the sanctuary. I already can’t wait until we can get back to this magical place again!

Caspian Tern (winters in Central America and summers in Canada)

Wilson's Warbler (winters in Central America and summers in Canada and the Northwestern U.S.)

Grey Catbird (winters in Central America and the eastern U.S. coast, summers all over the U.S. except for the West Coast)

Downy Woodpecker (lives year-round all over the U.S. and Canada)

Magnolia Warbler (winters in Central America and summers in Canada)

Red Start* (winters in Central and South America, summers in the eastern half of the U.S., and in Canada)
*Note: Iwanski did not take this picture—but this is the bird we kept seeing today, that wouldn’t sit still for a picture. Photo is courtesy of

Cute-ass chipmunk (not the technical name…lives all over the U.S., all year round)


Lisa said...

Cool! In all our years living there, we never visited that sanctuary. What a shame.

The pictures are gorgeous. What a great place to visit.

(I always used the Lake to figure out where I was.)

Mom said...

What great pictures! Another reason to visit Chicago. The Catbird and the Downy Woodpecker live in our backyard. I've seen a Red Start, but not the warblers or the tern.
It does look magical.

Barb said...

While I'm not a "bird watcher" I do love seeing unusual birds. We have some scrub jays here that are very cool. The males are a deep turquoise. I love seeing them.

Maria said...

Bing would love this place. She is a bird lover from birth. Me? Not so much. I like my back yard cardinal couple and our lesbian woodpeckers (Thelma and Louise) but that is about it.

And I think chipmunks are a nuisance. Sorry. Speaking from a gardener's perspective.

Bad Alice said...

I want a Magic Hedge! And maybe a magic hedgehog, too. The Red Start looks so cute and plump and velvety. My girls would love this. They get excited when a robin lands in the yard.

rosemary said...

Our Downy woodpeckers are here now...we get pileated one's in the winter. I love bird watching...your sanctuary does sound magical.

Random Thinker said...

Wild Kingdom - Chicago style.