Now recognized as one of the country’s most popular outdoor activities, birdwatching—or birding, for short–is one of those exceptional hobbies that require little in the way of monetary investment, physical prowess, or special equipment. Oh, a good pair of binoculars is nice and a detailed field guide can come in handy, but you can easily get started just by observing what goes on outside your kitchen window.
Even better, the St. Charles area is blessed with many fine pockets of habitat that make backyard birding a richly rewarding experience. Throughout the summer, local residents can expect to see a number of beautiful bird species, ranging from peaceful mourning doves to raucous blue jays to the striking northern cardinal, which also happens to be Illinois’s state bird.
Learning from experienced guides is the best way to start a bird-watching hobby. Fortunately, the St. Charles Park District can call on its own staff members as well as outside experts when creating seasonal birding activities.
The park district’s own Outreach Ambassador Pam Otto, often can be found birding locally, watching chimney swifts in downtown St. Charles or observing ducks and geese along the Fox River. In addition, the Park District enjoys a close working relationship with Kane County Audubon, a congenial group that meets at the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center on the second Wednesday of the month, September through May. In June, July and August the group embarks on numerous birding walks and “rambles” at parks and preserves, including Park District natural areas.
In June the Park District and KCA will offer the latest in their Learn Your Birds program series. Insect Eaters will focus on the species that make our lives more comfortable by eating great numbers of flying insects. Bluebirds, purple martins and swallows are the target species for this free activity, which meets on Saturday, June 13 from 8-10 a.m. in the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. Although the program has no fee, advance registration is required.
From woodlands and grasslands to wetlands and rivers, the St. Charles area is blessed with a wide array of habitats that can support numerous bird species. True, a bird doesn’t care whether the tree it’s in belongs to the Park District or your next door neighbor. However, when it comes to hedging your bets on spotting that elusive finch or flycatcher, these natural areas within the St. Charles Park District provide desirable bird-friendly real estate:
• Delnor Woods Park
• Ferson Creek Fen Nature Preserve
• Hickory Knolls Natural Area
• Hunt Club Wetlands
• Kingswood Wetlands
• Majestic Oaks Wetlands
• Norris Woods Nature Preserve
• Otter Creek Bend Wetland Park
• Persimmon Woods
• Williams Wetland
For more information on birdwatching courses and opportunities provided by the St. Charles Park District, including course dates, times, and fees, call the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center at 630-513-4399.