Sitting quietly on the shores of Lake Michigan, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary – the Magic Hedge – is home to a vast array of bird species. As of January 2017 over 320 species of birds have been identified at Montrose Point. Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts recently voted the sanctuary as the best place for birding in Illinois, and one could argue that this is one of the top birding locations in the entire Great Lakes region.
Situated along the border of the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway, the Great Lakes region is immensely important for migratory birds. Forests, grasslands, wetlands, and open water provide stopover points for these birds during their semi-annual journeys that, for some species, span across continents. There are many of these stop-over points within Chicago’s city limits – Jackson Park, Humboldt Park, Lake Calumet and Labagh Woods are especially active during spring and fall migration – but Montrose Point is one that stands above the rest.
A bird sanctuary that jets out into Lake Michigan serves is a funnel for birds as they travel over Lake Michigan, looking for green space that is somewhat sparse in our area. Bird lovers were the ones who gave Montrose Point the Magic Hedge nickname and for good reason. This sanctuary truly is a gem and worth discovering for yourself.
New to bird walks? Openlands has a guide to help.
Here are just a few of the many bird species Openlanders have seen at Magic Hedge:
Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary is located at 4400 N Simonds Drive in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Visitors can use the Wilson Ave or Montrose Ave exits from Lakeshore Drive, and it is accessible from the Wilson stop on the CTA Red or Purple Lines.
What can you do at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary?
- Birding: obviously. Birds venture to the Magic Hedge year-round and if you are interested, you can contribute to a community bird count. Be sure to bring a camera or binoculars because you won’t want to miss the colors! Spring is an excellent time to visit for birding.
- Biking, running, and trails: Montrose Point sits on the Lakefront Trail, offering easy access for recreation. Intrepid bikers might consider the 9-mile trip south to Northerly Island – another excellent birding location in Chicago.
- Montrose Beach: the Magic Hedge is adjacent to Montrose Beach, which operated by the Chicago Park District. If you want to make a day of your trip to the lakefront, pack a lunch and enjoy the beach. Beach season will run from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend in 2017.
- Golfing: the Chicago Park District maintains the nearby Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, which sits directly on the lakefront and is open to the public year-round. It is also an Audubon International certified bird sanctuary.
- Volunteer: Openlands’ Birds in my Neighborhood® program brings students from Chicago Public Schools to the Magic Hedge, and we need passionate nature-lovers to assist with field trips and share these experiences!
- Discover! Visit the Magic Hedge and see which birds you can spy. If you’re a photographer or just an avid Instagramer, bring your camera or phone and show the world the mosaic of purples, yellows and blues! Tag your Instagram posts with #DiscoverYourPlace to be featured on our stream and please share with us the highlights from your adventure.
Check out more of our recommendations for getting outside in the Chicago region.