Spring Warblers in Chicago
May 16–20, 2023
Chicago is an excellent place to be based to witness spring warbler migration, with as many as 30 species of warblers passing through each spring and urban migrant traps concentrating them and allowing for great viewing opportunities. On this IFO Spring Warbler tour, we will visit some of the Chicago area’s best warbler migration hotspots, and we will spend classroom time learning about their behavior, conservation, song, and more. For one afternoon, we will move the classroom sessions to the Field Museum, where we can interact with Museum scientists and learn about their work.
The Great Lakes region is rightly famous for its spring warbler migration. And warblers, especially when in their spring finery, really bring out the birders! While hordes of birders head for Magee Marsh and Point Pelee for their spring warbler fix, the western Great Lakes also hosts tremendous spring migration in mid-May. Chicago is an excellent place to be based to witness this migration, where as many as 30 species of warblers pass through each spring and urban migrant traps concentrate them and allow for great viewing opportunities.
The Spring Warblers tour in Chicago is part of the ABA’s Institute for Field Ornithology (IFO) program, which endeavors to:
- hold workshops and courses for improving field skills and ornithological knowledge;
- make known ways in which birders might contribute to the scientific or aesthetic appreciation of birds in their natural habitats;
- encourage cooperation between amateur and professional ornithologists;
- contribute to the conservation of wild birds;
- provide a convenient location for all to work, to study, and to discuss birds.
During IFO tours, there is always an emphasis on helping attendees improve their field skills and increase their ornithological knowledge—goals ultimately intended to enable you to more effectively engage in activities that will benefit future bird conservation efforts. It has never been a goal of IFO events to merely identify and record as many bird species as possible within the time allotted for the courses. IFO instructors try to remain focused on their workshop topics, while the day-to-day organization of most IFO workshops strives to provide a healthy blend of indoor learning activities, along with extensive time spent in the field reinforcing information presented in the classroom. (from The ABA’s Institute for Field Ornithology: A Brief History)
On this Spring Warblers IFO tour, we will visit some of the Chicago area’s best warbler migration hotspots, places like Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary and Jarvis Bird Sanctuary on the city’s northside lakefront, Jackson Park on the southside, and Ryerson Woods and Daniel Wright Woods along the Des Plaines River. We will also spend classroom time learning about warblers, their habits, conservation, behavior, and more. For one afternoon, we will move the classroom sessions to the Field Museum, where we can interact with Museum scientists and learn about their work. The field trips and workshops are designed to be complementary, with the lessons learned in the classroom applicable in the field, and vice versa.
This Spring Warblers IFO tour is based out of the Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston. This hotel is located in downtown Evanston and is walking distance to the Clark Street Beach Bird Sanctuary and the Northwestern University campus, both excellent spring migration birding hotspots. A pair of Peregrine Falcons traditionally nests on a building across the street from the hotel.
Arrival and check-in. Meet at the Hilton Orrington hotel in Evanston in the afternoon and perhaps do some local birding for those who arrive before 3pm. Welcome dinner at 7pm.
Because of the nature of Chicago’s traffic and airports, the trip will be starting at the group’s hotel in Evanston. Participants should take a taxi or rideshare to get there.
Late afternoon workshop on Warbler Migration: Since the workshop will be in the peak of warbler migration, we will learn the intricacies of warbler migration, from how they do it to how to know what will be a good day to go out and look for warblers.
Morning field trips to the northside Chicago Lakefront and/or LaBagh Woods.
Afternoon workshops on Warbler Song: By the time warblers have reached the Chicago area in the spring, males are warming up their vocal chords getting ready to find a mate and defend a territory just a little bit farther north. So even though the vast majority won’t be breeding in the Chicago area, they are singing up a storm. We will talk about warbler songs and methods of learning them, and we will surely get much practice in the field with hearing them.
Morning field trips to Lake County Forest Preserves, Ryerson Woods and Daniel Wright Woods.
Afternoon workshop on Warbler Identification: The basis for much of today’s birding culture is about finding and identifying birds. With 30+ species of warblers in the Eastern United States, nearly all of which pass through the Chicago area each spring, we will learn the intricacies of spring warblers identification.
Morning field trips to the southside Chicago Lakefront.
Afternoon visit to the Field Museum, workshop on Warbler Conservation: We will take both a local and a wider focus to learn about warbler conservation. We will talk about local issues in the Chicago area—topics that primarily impact warblers during migration, like stopover habitat and window strikes; we will also discuss broader issues like climate change and full annual cycle conservation. We will also be sure to discuss the Midwest’s own formerly-endangered breeding warbler, Kirtland’s Warbler (and its strange link to a famous Chicago crime).
We will also visit Chicago’s Field Museum, which salvages thousands of specimens of migratory birds—many of them warblers–annually that fatally collide with glass in the Chicago area. We will learn about how and why they collide with windows, what happens to those specimens after they come to the Field, how they are used in research, and what we are learning from them.
Morning field trips to the north side Chicago Lakefront and/or LaBagh Woods.
Check-out and departure. Participants can take a taxi or rideshare to get to the airport from the hotel in Evanston.
Number of days and nights: 5 days / 4 nights
Dates: 16–20 May 2023
Start and end point:
- Starting: 16 May 2023, meet at Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston at 3pm
- Finishing: 20 May 2023, departure from Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston
Hotels: Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston
- Minimum number of participants: 10
- Maximum number of participants: 15
Guides and ABA staff: 3 local lead guides and 1 ABA staff
Birding pace: Low – medium
Photography opportunities: Low – medium
Physical difficulty: Low, but not wheelchair accessible
Weather: The weather should be very comfortable this time of year. Temperatures probably in the 60s-70s, but it could be colder or hotter if a strong cold or warm front comes through. Rain is possible, but should be too much.
- $2,750 per person in double occupancy (twin or double)
- $600 single supplement
- 4 hotel nights
- 3 meals per day from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 5
- Private transportation to and from sites visited
- All guiding fees for tour leaders and guides
- All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
- All activities as described in the itinerary
- Behind-the-scenes tour of the Field Museum Bird Collection
- Transportation to and from Chicago
- Airport transfers to and from Hilton Orrington hotel in Evanston
- Alcoholic beverages
- Purchases of personal nature, including (but not limited to) laundry service, room service, phone calls, toiletries, souvenirs etc.
- No insurance is included. We do strongly recommend you get your own travel, cancellation, and medical insurance
- Extensions of the trip due to circumstances out of our control
- Any tips you would like to offer tour leaders, guides, drivers, porters, wait staff, housekeeping etc. for outstanding service
If you want to arrive before May 16, 2023, or leave after May 20, 2023, we can book extra hotel nights in Evanston for you. You can indicate this in your booking form.
Terms and conditions: aba.org/terms-conditions
Booking and secure payment:
Is there any option without hotels, for those that live in the Chicagoland area?
Yes, that is an option. You will see it on the booking form (click the green “Book Now” button under Price and Booking).
If enough people do not sign up is this cancelled? I do not want to make flight reservations and then have it cancelled. I have family I can stay with in Chicago area.