My Kind of Town

Wildlife/Birdwatching
By Christopher Collier
  |  Gorp.com

With a camera in one hand a binocular, Chicagoans go in search of outdoors to remind them of what it's like to live with nature. Here are two of the best places to find wildlife.

Bong State Recreation Area

Just 5 miles past the Wisconsin border, the Bong State Recreation Area is a fascinating piece of landscape to explore. It was cleared to make room for a military base in the '50s but later was converted to its present state. Now only 6 percent of its 4,515 acres is intensely developed. Note the vegetation that grows up around it as you tread its mowed trails. In the winter be on the lookout for birds like the dark-eyed junco or the short-eared owl, which spend the season here after migrating from the north. In the summer, mallards, great blue herons, blue-winged teals, and many others nest here.

Chain O' Lakes State Park

Though mostly consisting of freshwater bog resting on deep peat deposits, river bluffsrise as high as 200 feet. Oak, hickory, cherry, elm, birch, sumac and sprucecover portions of land not taken up by water. Find white-tailed deer, rabbits,ground squirrels, chipmunks, mink, opossum, skunks, raccoons, gophers, fox,badgers, beaver, coyotes, and ground hogs scurrying about. Paths shoot offfrom the main trail to observation decks perfect for birdwatching. Over 200birds have been identified in the park, and a checklist is available at thepark office.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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