Autumn isn't just a good time for leaf peeping, it's also a perfect season to ramp up your bird-watching activities.
As cooler temperatures move in and leaves begin to flutter to the ground, it's easier to spot birds, whether they are migrating through or staying for the winter.
That is why the Forest Preserve District has scheduled a wide variety of free, fall bird-watching programs to get you started with this hobby or to help you further hone your skills.
Programs range from guided hikes at local preserves to Zoom webinars designed to expand your birding knowledge.
Guided hike participants are encouraged to bring binoculars and their favorite field guides and to dress for the weather. All birders are welcome, from beginner to expert.
Here is the fall birding lineup:
Heading South – Fall Migration Bird Hike: 9-10 a.m. Saturday, October 3, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon. View migrating birds on a 1.5-mile hike and learn birding tricks from an interpretive naturalist as well as other like-minded birders. All ages. Register by Thursday, October 1; 815.722.9470.
Birding in the Preserves: 7-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, October 15 and December 10, Zoom webinars. Learn birding basics and tips on how to see many of the different species of birds that visit the preserves. Find out how you can contribute to Citizen Science just by walking a preserve and recording what you find. Ages 16 or older. Register for the webinars on the Event Calendar. The meeting ID and password for the Zoom session will be sent via email after registration.
Morning Bird Hike: 8-10 a.m. Sunday, October 18, Monee Reservoir and Raccoon Grove Nature Preserve, Monee Township. Join a guided 2-mile hike to see which bird species are likely to be stopping by these two preserves to rest, fuel up and continue their journey south during migration. Meet in front of Monee Reservoir Visitor Center. Ages 16 or older. Register by Friday, October 16; 708.946.2216.
Morning Bird Hike: 9-10 a.m. Saturday, October 24, Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville. The varied habitat at Isle a la Cache preserve makes it a great place for bird-watching. This 1-mile guided hike will follow the shores of the Des Plaines River. Ages 15 or older. Register by Thursday, October 22; 815.886.1467.
Sandhill Cranes on Migration: 7-7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 12, Zoom webinar. Sandhill cranes fly over our area each spring and fall during migration and you can hear their trumpeting calls as they pass overhead. Find out where all the cranes are going as well as where you can view them in large numbers each fall. Ages 16 or older. Register for the webinar on the Event Calendar. The meeting ID and password for the Zoom session will be sent via email after registration.
Morning Bird Hike: 8-10 a.m. Saturday, November 14, Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township. Hike 2 miles with a naturalist to view the birds that rest at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve during migration and those that plan to hunker down in the woods for the winter. Register by Friday, November 13; 708.946.2216.
Early Birds Hike: 9-10 a.m. Tuesday, November 24, Isle a la Cache Museum. Have you ever spotted a cotton rump, fish hawk or a saw bill when birding? You probably have but didn’t know the birds by those common names! Join this 1-mile morning bird hike to ID birds using their historic folk names. Ages 15 or older. Register by Sunday, November 22; 815.886.1467.
Morning Bird Hike: 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday, December 12, Plum Creek Nature Center. Join an interpretive naturalist for this 2-mile guided hike through the preserves to view winter resident birds as they search the woods for food. Ages 16 or older. Register by Friday, December 11; 708.946.2216.
Registration for in-person programs also is available on the Event Calendar.
Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.