A Chicago Birder’s Guide to Transit-accessible Birding Hotspots

Chicago’s transit system makes it easy to get around the city without a car. This is especially true if your destination is the loop or the airport. But if your destination is to find birds at one of the Chicago region’s natural areas, it can feel a bit more like you’re stuck without many options. Luckily, hundreds of bird species and several natural areas are within reach of city transit, from city parks, to county forest preserves and a National Park.

Northerly Island

·         Nearest CTA L stop: Roosevelt Orange/Red/Green Line Station

·         From there: It’s an 18 minute walk from Roosevelt station or 8-12 minute bus ride 130/146 to Museum Campus. Exit at Solidarity Dr & Lynn White Drive and walk south of the Aquarium.

Former airport turned City Park and natural area, this man-made island features a walking trail, grassland, lagoon, Lake Michigan shoreline and an incredible view of the city skyline. Savannah Sparrows and American Kestrels are commonly found using the grassland and dabbling ducks and shorebirds frequent the lagoon. From late fall to early spring, be on the lookout for diving ducks out in the open lake or in the harbor. Snowy Owls may also make an appearance here in the winter.

Savannah Sparrow; Amanda Tichacek

Savannah Sparrow; Amanda Tichacek

While you’re visiting Northerly, you’re also a short walk away from a few other popular birding spots: McCormick Bird Sanctuary, Grant Park & 12th Street Beach.

Birding by Transit is a series by COS board member Stephanie Beilke highlighting birding hotspots that are within walking distance or a short bus ride from the CTA “L”, Metra or South Shore Line. No matter your choice of transportation, these birding destinations are ones that every Chicago birder needs to check off their list.