AOU Field Trips

Photo: Henslow's Sparrow, J. Engel



Montrose Mornings Thursday, 15 August;  Saturday, 17 August; 05:45-07:30; Cost: $10, Limit: 40 (will be split into smaller groups)

Visit the famed Magic Hedge on the Lake Michigan shore (where 336 species have been recorded), known these days as the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary and the Montrose Beach Dunes.  A 15 minute drive from the Palmer House, we will arrive at one of the country’s great urban birding hotspots just as the sun is rising over the lake. By mid-August, migrants will have started trickling through on their way south—16 species of warblers were seen there on August 17, 2012. We will return to the hotel 30 minutes before the plenary session begins. eBird bar charts for Montrose

Grant Park Gamble Wednesday, 14 August; Friday, 16 August; 06:00-07:30; Free, Limit: 40 (will be split into smaller groups)

Just a five-minute walk from the Palmer House lies Grant Park, the large lakefront park in the heart of downtown Chicago. We will search Grant Park and the adjacent Millennium Park for migrants including warblers, vireos, and thrushes. We will return to the hotel 30 minutes before the plenary session begins. eBird bar charts for Grant Park

Early Morning Loop Architecture Tour Thursday, 15 August; Saturday, 17 August; 06:30 – 07:30;  Free:  Limited to 20 people each day.  

Chicago is known for building some of the world’s first skyscrapers.  Take a walk through time to see these buildings that date from 1872 to the present.  Learn how the designs and technologies changed over time from the early skyscrapers of the 1890s to the super tall high rises of the 21st century.   Meet at the north end of the Palmer House lobby.  The tour will begin and end at the hotel. eBird bar charts for the Architecture Tour


Kankakee Sands: Grasslands and Sod Farms Sunday, 18 August, 05:30-16:00; Cost: $75, Limit: 13

We will start the morning in one of the Chicago area’s best remnant prairie patches at The Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands property in Newton County, Indiana, where we hope to encounter the last vestiges of the summer’s breeding rush. We should find Henslow’s and Grasshopper Sparrows, Dickcissel, Sedge Wren, Bobolink, and other grassland species. Crossing back into Illinois, we will pass through Pembroke Township, where we will look for Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Vireo, Eastern Bluebird, and various birds typical of scrubby grassland. Our last stop will be the H&E Sod Farms near Momence, Illinois, where we should find Buff-breasted Sandpiper and American Golden-Plover, and, with some luck, Upland Sandpiper. A packed lunch will be provided. eBird bar charts for Kankakee Sands; for Momence Sod Farms

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Sunday, 18 August, 05:30-13:00 Cost: $45, Limit: 13 (ONLY FOUR SPOTS LEFT!)

A one-time army arsenal, Midewin is the largest contiguous area of open space in northeast Illinois and one of the state’s largest remaining remnant prairies. Since 1996, crews have worked to restore native prairie vegetation, resulting in major populations of breeding prairie birds. The list of breeding species including Henslow’s, Grasshopper, and Field Sparrows, Sedge Wren, Dickcissel, and an abundance of Bobolink. Midewin also hosts the only breeding Loggerhead Shrikes in the northeast Illinois and we will have access to normally off-limits areas of the prairie where we will look for the only breeding Upland Sandpipers remaining in this part of the state. Snacks will be provided. eBird bar charts for Midewin

Chicago Lakefront Hotspots Sunday, 18 August, 06:00-12:00 Cost: $30, Limit: 13

This trip will be focused on looking for migrants and will allow time for a more leisurely and thorough visit to the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary than the trips during the meetings. We will have time to check the beach for shorebirds and terns as well as to scour the Magic Hedge for migrant passerines. After Montrose we will move on to the nearby Jarvis Bird Sanctuary, another birding gem in Chicago's Lincoln Park.  Depending on the remaining time, we may visit other lakefront hotspots, like North Pond or Northerly Island. Snacks will be provided. eBird bar charts for the Chicago Lakefront