The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and National Geographic Channel will all cost you some money if you want watch exotic animals on your TV. Luckily, Chicagoans have a wide range of fauna running and flying around outdoors waiting to be watched. And best of all, bird-watching requires nothing more than a pair of eyes, your ears and a little knowledge. We at Chicago Loopster may not be experts on bird-watching in the Windy City, but we can definitely point you in the right direction to get your bird-watching quest off to a good start.
First off, you might trying reading through this handy City of Chicago brochure, which offers a road map for finding more than 300 bird species in the area. Here are five examples of birds the city identifies as native to the area, either year round or just during the summer.
1. American Goldfinch
Sunflowers attract these pointy-beaked beauties, and so does prairie grass. They nest in July and have a distinctive pulsating call that you should easily be able to recognize.
Meadows and residential areas are popular hangouts for the birds, so keep an eye out the next time you’re getting your picnic on.
They stand out against the trees, too, thanks to their bright yellow feathers. They look sort of like baby chickens that stuck their foreheads into some soot.
2. Northern Flicker
These little guys can be found all over the place. Just look for holes in trees, and you’re bound to find one making its next.
Listen for a bird that sounds like a monkey. Their howls have a giddy quality to them, like a tree full of chimpanzees all trying to get one another’s attention at the same time.
And even if you don’t hear them singing, you are bound to hear them pecking away into a nearby tree trunk.
3. Black-Capped Chickadee
These black-and-white-headed birds live in the Chicago area the whole year round. You may be more likely to spot them in the suburbs, though.
Just listen for a high-pitched noise that sounds like the battery in your household smoke detector is on the fritz.
If you’ve got a feeder with some birdseed in it, one of them very well may pay you a visit in search of a snack.
4. Downy Woodpecker
The Downy Woodpecker may not have nearly as obnoxious a call as the Northern Flicker, but if there’s a suitable tree for nesting to be found, you can bet that one of them will be there sticking their beak into it.
The males have a small patch of red on their heads, while the females stick to a simple black and white color scheme.
They love parks and gardens and will make their homes in about any type of Chicago neighborhood.
5. Eastern Kingbird
Like the Black-Capped Chickadee, the Eastern Kingbird also has a call that resembles an electronic device in need of new batteries. They sound less shrill, though, and can easily distinguish themselves.
They nest in evergreen trees and can be seen throughout the summer months. They like wild habitats, but they have also adapted to city life, so don’t be surprised if you see one hopping around by the side of the road or looking up at you on a park bench.