Hotspots Near You

71. Greene Valley Forest Preserve, Naperville, Illinois

This Chicago-area birding site features a fall hawk watch and is where to go to see Blue-winged Warbler, Dickcissel, Summer Tanager, Lapland Longspurs, Rough-legged Hawk, and many other species.
By Jeff Chapman | Published: 6/19/2009

Not only is Greene Valley near my home, but it’s near to my heart as well. When I began volunteering with the DuPage Forest Preserve District several years ago, my wife and I would seek out the breeding birds here. Once we discovered a brood of Lark Sparrows, a species undocumented as a breeder in Chicagoland for more than 80 years!

The 83rd Street Pond has hosted its share of rarities. On an incredible day in 2008, you could watch Wilson’s and Red-necked Phalaropes intermingle with a Curlew Sandpiper, often in a single binocular view.

Songbird migration is good in the fall, but most of us birders turn our attention skyward for hawk-watching season. The former landfill (elevation 190 ft.) known as Greene Valley Hill provides 360° views of the skies – ideal for seeing hawks. Large numbers of Broad-winged, Cooper’s, and Sharp-shinned Hawks move through from September through November.

In late fall, Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, and Horned Larks vie for my attention as I search for Rough-legged Hawks and Golden Eagles. — Jeff Chapman

Jeff Chapman is past president of the DuPage Birding Club. He also wrote about Morton Arboretum, Lisle, Illinois, Hotspot Near You No. 26. 

71. Greene Valley Forest Preserve, Naperville, Illinois

Directions

Greene Valley Forest Preserve is a 1,411-acre greenspace in suburban Chicago. From the intersection of I-355 and 75th St. in Woodridge, drive approximately three miles west to Greene Rd. Turn left or right into the preserve to reach a parking area. In fall, head to Greene Valley Hill, which has its own parking lot, for the hawk watch.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
41°43’49.71″N 88°4’43.47″W

Habitat

Shrubland, patches of grassland, several ponds, and oak woodland.

Terrain

Mostly flat. 10 miles of multi-use gravel trails, 4 miles of grass- and wood-chip-covered trails.

Birds

From the hawk watch: migrating raptors, Sandhill Crane, Tundra Swan, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, and American Pipit. Shorebirds at the 83rd Street Pond: Stilt Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher. Migrating warblers along the DuPage River and woodlands. Spring American Woodcock displays are spectacular. Wintering Northern Shrike (dependable annually) and Rough-legged Hawk. Breeding: Bell’s, Yellow-throated, and White-eyed Vireos, Yellow-breasted Chat, Chestnut-sided and Blue-winged Warblers, Willow Flycatcher, Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Bobolink, Field and Savannah Sparrows, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

When to go

Spring and fall for songbirds. June and July for breeders. Late summer for shorebirds. Hawk watch early September through November.

Amenities
Restrooms available at parking areas. DuPage Birding Club offers many trips in spring to see displaying woodcocks.

Access

County forest. No fees. Open daily one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset. Greene Valley Hill open 11-6 on weekends, spring through fall.

Tips

When you come for the hawk watch, dress for colder conditions than those found at ground level. Spotting scope useful.

For more info

DuPage Forest Preserve District, (630) 933-7200
DuPage Birding Club
Chicago Audubon Bird Report, (847) 265-2118.

Sites nearby

Springbrook Prairie
Seven miles west of Greene Valley on 75th St. Breeding Least Bittern and Henslow’s and Clay-colored Sparrows.

Whalon Lake
Two miles from Greene Valley along Royce Rd. Rails, bitterns, and many rarities.

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