Monday, December 22, 2014

87th St. Steel Mills

Hi all,

This is a master post about the area I call 87th St. Steel Mills. What I consider to be the property boundaries are below:

For listing purposes, I count what I can see while I'm standing within the boundaries of the 87th property. In this property, there are a few places where I focus my birding. This is because a majority of it is private property. I am going to attempt to get permission to access these lands, but it is currently unclear if that will work. I used to get access from the security office, but they decided to stop allowing us in. In the short time I had access to these lands, I got Prothonotary Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, and a pair of Smith's Longspurs, so these lands get good birds.

The first area I bird is Steelworker's Park.


The map below is how to bird Steelworker's Park. Along the blue line is great for passerines. I get large sparrow and warbler numbers here in migration. The best ones so far are Pine Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, Pine Siskin, Sedge Wren, and Upland Sandpiper. The green dashes are where I stand to scan the lake. I usually see large numbers of ducks and grebes, including Red-necked and Western Grebes and Harlequin Duck. Make sure to scan the breakwalls throughly as Snowy Owls and gulls both like them. The red is potential parking areas. The yellow line on the bottom of the map is where I have been getting Snowy Owls recently.


The next location in 87th I bird frequently is Park 566, which just got a large expansion on the boundaries.


EDIT: There are conflicting viewpoints about this expansion. Chicago Park District and Google Maps both say it happened, but the security says it did not. These are the boundaries that the security is using. Interpret the rest of the maps as if they have these boundaries.


The western boundaries are easy to not overstep because there is a fence running along it. The map below is how to bird Park 566. The pink trail is an old asphalt road. I get large numbers of sparrows, typically hundreds, along this path. The best birds I have gotten are Hoary and Common Redpoll, Nelson's Sparrow, and LeConte's Sparrow. The red path is a berm that runs right along the lakeside.You can stop anywhere along it and scan the lake. There are often hundreds of mergansers and Aythya ducks in the water off of the berm. The best birds seen from the berm are Sabine's Gull, Black Scoter, Snowy Owl, and Cackling Goose. I also get good sparrow numbers in the grasses along the berm. At the base of the berm bordering Rainbow Beach property, there is a treeline that is a good place for passerines. The green dash is where parking is and the light blue line is how to get to both the old asphalt road and the berm. Parking along the Rainbow Beach entrance drive is unclear whether it is legal or not.


The last area I frequently check is the Dragonfly Pond/ Park 503. I typically just call it the Dragonfly Pond.


While birding the Dragonfly Pond, make sure to look north at the power lines, highlighted in blue, because I got a Western Kingbird on them. The namesake pond is the yellow and green area below. While a good variety of dragonflies occur at it, the best one by far is Band-winged Dragonlet. They were documented breeding in this pond, which constitutes the first Illinois breeding record for this vagrant dragonfly. The green line is a good place to stand and pish for passerines.


Those are the best areas of the 87th St. Steel Mills. My overall site list is in taxonomic order below.

Last updated: 3/16/2016


  1. Greater White-fronted Goose
  2. Ross's Goose
  3. Cackling Goose
  4. Canada Goose
  5. Mute Swan
  6. Wood Duck
  7. Gadwall
  8. American Wigeon
  9. American Black Duck
  10. Mallard
  11. Blue-winged Teal
  12. Northern Shoveler
  13. Northern Pintail
  14. Green-winged Teal
  15. Canvasback
  16. Redhead
  17. Ring-necked Duck
  18. Greater Scaup
  19. Lesser Scaup
  20. Harlequin Duck
  21. Surf Scoter
  22. White-winged Scoter
  23. Black Scoter
  24. Long-tailed Duck
  25. Bufflehead
  26. Common Goldeneye
  27. Hooded Merganser
  28. Common Merganser
  29. Red-breasted Merganser
  30. Ruddy Duck
  31. Red-throated Loon
  32. Common Loon
  33. Pied-billed Grebe
  34. Horned Grebe
  35. Red-necked Grebe
  36. Western Grebe
  37. Double-crested Cormorant
  38. American White Pelican
  39. American Bittern
  40. Great Blue Heron
  41. Great Egret
  42. Green Heron
  43. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  44. Turkey Vulture
  45. Northern Harrier
  46. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  47. Cooper's Hawk
  48. Bald Eagle
  49. Red-shouldered Hawk
  50. Red-tailed Hawk
  51. Rough-legged Hawk                                 
  52. Sora
  53. American Coot
  54. Sandhill Crane
  55. Black-bellied Plover
  56. Semipalmated Plover
  57. Killdeer
  58. Spotted Sandpiper
  59. Solitary Sandpiper
  60. Greater Yellowlegs
  61. Willet
  62. Lesser Yellowlegs
  63. Upland Sandpiper
  64. Ruddy Turnstone
  65. Sanderling
  66. Least Sandpiper
  67. Pectoral Sandpiper
  68. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  69. Short-billed Dowitcher
  70. Wilson's Snipe
  71. American Woodcock
  72. Wilson's Phalarope
  73. Sabine's Gull                                             
  74. Bonaparte's Gull
  75. Ring-billed Gull
  76. Herring Gull
  77. Thayer's Gull
  78. Iceland Gull
  79. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  80. Glaucous Gull
  81. Great Black-backed Gull
  82. Caspian Tern
  83. Common Tern
  84. Forster's Tern
  85. Rock Pigeon
  86. Mourning Dove
  87. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  88. Black-billed Cuckoo
  89. Great Horned Owl
  90. Snowy Owl
  91. Short-eared Owl
  92. Common Nighthawk
  93. Chuck-will's-widow
  94. Chimney Swift
  95. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  96. Belted Kingfisher
  97. Red-headed Woodpecker
  98. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  99. Downy Woodpecker
  100. Hairy Woodpecker
  101. Northern Flicker
  102. American Kestrel
  103. Merlin
  104. Peregrine Falcon
  105. Monk Parakeet
  106. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  107. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
  108. Alder Flycatcher
  109. Willow Flycatcher
  110. Least Flycatcher
  111. Eastern Phoebe
  112. Great Crested Flycatcher
  113. Western Kingbird                                     
  114. Eastern Kingbird
  115. Bell's Vireo
  116. Yellow-throated Vireo
  117. Blue-headed Vireo
  118. Warbling Vireo
  119. Red-eyed Vireo
  120. Blue Jay
  121. American Crow
  122. Horned Lark
  123. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  124. Purple Martin
  125. Tree Swallow
  126. Bank Swallow
  127. Barn Swallow
  128. Cliff Swallow
  129. Black-capped Chickadee
  130. White-breasted Nuthatch
  131. Brown Creeper
  132. House Wren
  133. Winter Wren
  134. Sedge Wren
  135. Marsh Wren                                              
  136. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  137. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  138. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  139. Eastern Bluebird
  140. Veery
  141. Gray-cheeked Thrush
  142. Swainson's Thrush
  143. Hermit Thrush
  144. Wood Thrush
  145. American Robin
  146. Gray Catbird
  147. Brown Thrasher
  148. Northern Mockingbird
  149. European Starling
  150. American Pipit
  151. Cedar Waxwing
  152. Lapland Longspur
  153. Smith's Longspur
  154. Snow Bunting
  155. Ovenbird
  156. Northern Waterthrush
  157. Golden-winged Warbler
  158. Black-and-white Warbler
  159. Prothonotary Warbler
  160. Tennessee Warbler
  161. Orange-crowned Warbler
  162. Nashville Warbler
  163. Connecticut Warbler
  164. Mourning Warbler
  165. Common Yellowthroat
  166. American Redstart
  167. Cape May Warbler
  168. Northern Parula
  169. Magnolia Warbler
  170. Bay-breasted Warbler
  171. Blackburnian Warbler
  172. Yellow Warbler
  173. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  174. Blackpoll Warbler
  175. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  176. Palm Warbler
  177. Pine Warbler
  178. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  179. Yellow-throated Warbler
  180. Black-throated Green Warbler
  181. Canada Warbler
  182. Wilson's Warbler
  183. Grasshopper Sparrow
  184. Henslow's Sparrow
  185. Le Conte's Sparrow
  186. Nelson's Sparrow                                      
  187. American Tree Sparrow
  188. Chipping Sparrow
  189. Clay-colored Sparrow
  190. Field Sparrow
  191. Fox Sparrow
  192. Dark-eyed Junco
  193. White-crowned Sparrow
  194. White-throated Sparrow
  195. Vesper Sparrow
  196. Savannah Sparrow
  197. Song Sparrow
  198. Lincoln's Sparrow
  199. Swamp Sparrow
  200. Eastern Towhee
  201. Scarlet Tanager                                         
  202. Northern Cardinal
  203. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  204. Indigo Bunting
  205. Dickcissel
  206. Bobolink
  207. Red-winged Blackbird
  208. Eastern Meadowlark
  209. Rusty Blackbird
  210. Common Grackle
  211. Brown-headed Cowbird
  212. Orchard Oriole
  213. Baltimore Oriole
  214. House Finch
  215. Common Redpoll                                     
  216. Hoary Redpoll
  217. Pine Siskin                                                
  218. American Goldfinch
  219. House Sparrow


Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Beat It by 7!

273. LeConte's Sparrow
274. Franklin's Gull
275. Surf Scoter
276. Black Scoter
277. Northern Goshawk
278. California Gull
279. Lapland Longspur
280. Red-necked Grebe
281. Snowy Owl

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Final Three

Hi all,

Elaboration will be made. This is just a little post so you know I didn't die. Here are my new birds from after my last post.

261. Yellow-throated Warbler
262. Neotropic Cormorant
263. Short-billed Dowitcher
264. Whimbrel
265. Stilt Sandpiper
266. Baird's Sandpiper
267. American Avocet
268. Buff-breasted Sandpiper
269. Parasitic Jaeger
270. American Golden-Plover
271. Long-billed Dowitcher
272. Harris's Sparrow

Photos and deets will be added soon. I need 3 more birds to beat the record!!!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Beating Summer Doldrums

Hi all,

As you all know, it is now mid June. This is arguably one of the worst times of birding. Spring migration came to an abrupt end a week or two ago, and it is late enough in the year that many birds aren't singing as much. Also, it is too early for most post-breeding wanderers and shorebirds start coming back right at the beginning of July. These are the awkward transition weeks of the year. But, I will never take a break until the ball drops in NYC on the 31st. Given how I wasn't expecting much out of these weeks, I think that, so far, I have been faring pretty well. I started out with 5 target birds since my last post in early June, and of those, I have gotten 3. Here are the stories:

6/6: As a graduation gift, my brother got a long day trip to wherever he wanted. Considering that he is a gull nut, he decided to go to Sheboygan, WI where multiple Little Gulls and a few other goodies were being seen. When we got there, it didn't take long to find a Little Gull, but it was raining and it was a very dull one. There was also a Laughing Gull hanging around. We then decided to wander around the area and pulled out a bunch of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Ethan saw a Little Gull flying offshore heading north to where we saw the first one. We went back over there and quickly found a Little Gull, then another one showed up, and this kept on happening until we got up to 5 of them. They were sitting and flying and putting on a great show. We eventually dragged ourselves away to go to our next stop.
Laughing Gull
Bird #1
 Bird #2
 Bird # 3 and 4
 Bird #5
 One of the darker ones
Wing pattern comparison
 Feeding very close
Chilling right next to us 
 Sitting in the dead fish
Fighting

From there, we went to the Tricolored Heron being seen near Rockford. We easily got it and it gave us great looks!




6/8: Ethan has started to become very interested in dragonflies and damselflies. Because of this, he decided to go a couple places that are supposed a bunch of them. We found what we were looking for, with a couple of bonuses. Our first stop was at Isla A La Cache in Romeoville. Highlights there were insane numbers of damselflys and a few Water Snakes.
Awesome snake, but there is a problem.
 It has a fishhook stuck in its body.
 So my brother and dad decided to rescue it.
And it put up a fight, but they got out the hook and it swam away.
Stream Bluet
Dark morph Tiger Swallowtail

Next we went to Silver Springs in Kendall County near Yorkville. Not only did this place have good dragon and damselflies, it has good birds and fish. It also had an interesting snake. The bird highlights included White-eyed Vireo and Red-shouldered Hawk.
 Awesome baby fish swarm
Awesome fish (ID please)
 Stream Bluet
 Pronghorn Clubtail
 Emerald Spreadwing
Emerald Spreadwing 
American Rubyspot 
 Rainbow Bluet
Fragile Forktail
 There was also this interesting snake.
My dad thinks it may be a Queen Snake.

Then, I got a call from Jeff Skrentny saying that Bob Hughes and Karen Mansfield had some American White Pelicans flying over Harborside Golf Course and they thought that they were landing. We zipped over there and got nothing. Oh well.

6/9: A morning monitoring session at Douglas Park got us a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Mourning Warbler, and this Hooded Merganser:


6/10: We decided to head up to the northwest part of the county. The only highlights were damselflies, pictured here:
 Fragile Bluet eating a bug
 Red Damselfly
 Springwater Dancer
Red Damselflies in tandem

6/11: This was supposed to be a work day for my dad, but it was interrupted by 3 Black Terns at McGinnis Slough found by Doug Stotz. They stayed there for us and put on a show while we were watching them. The terns were my 300th bird on my Cook County Lifelist.  They were very far away and they are small birds. Try to pick out which pixels are the Black Terns :p.

258. Black Tern 


6/13: This day started at Palatine Rd Marsh a bit before dawn to try for Common Gallinule. I failed on that, but among the chorus of Marsh Wrens I was able to pick out the soft clucking of a Least Bittern. My third this year. From there, we moved on the Paul Douglas where I followed instructions given to me by Stan Stec on where to get Black-billed Cuckoo. It turns out, the cuckoo wanted to cooperate because it gave great looks right where Stan had his. #1 nemesis conquered!

259. Black-billed Cuckoo




6/15: We decided to explore the Calumet area today. It was extremely dead. I am patiently waiting for a Little Blue Heron to make its way north to here as one seems to do so every year. There was one awesome highlight that put energy into this dull day, and that was a flock of 14 American White Pelicans at Harborside Golf Course, and unlike every other Pelican sighting in Cook this year, these ones weren't flyovers. They were very distant though, but I was satisfied.

260. American White Pelican

And that is it! June hasn't been amazing, but a few standout highlights make my efforts worthwhile. Now, I have two more targets left for June: Common Gallinule and Little Blue Heron. I need 15 more birds to break the record. Right now, I am in a 6-way tie for 6th place in Cook big years. Wish me luck!