My wife Alicia and I find North Pond exhilarating, particularly in spring and fall. Spring highlights include numerous warblers — Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Blue-winged, Black-and-white, Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Palm… May I go on? We see Peregrine Falcons year-round and Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Goshawk, and American Kestrel in fall and winter.
One summer day Alicia saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak drinking along the pond’s edge. Before I could zero in, the grosbeak disappeared into the canopy overhead. When I heard the bird begin its robin-like call, I positioned myself under its tree with my binoculars. Two hours later I still hadn’t seen it.
Alicia relocated the bird on a low, open branch over the pond and guided me to it. I was enthralled by its beauty; its rose breast was pointed directly at me. The grosbeak stayed put for a while and began to sing. If ever a bird knew how badly I wanted to see it and was generous enough to grant my wish, it was this one. — Edwin Rodriguez
Edwin Rodriguez has worked as a community-education coordinator at Chicago City Colleges, a mentor at Malcolm X College, and a case manager for the homeless. He started birding almost 30 years ago, when he put sunflower seeds on a third-floor window ledge for a pair of cardinals.
Pond surrounded by aquatic plants; willow, elm, hackberry, cottonwood, and green ash trees; and upland prairie and woodland savanna plants.
Flat. Walkways are wheelchair-accessible.
More than 160 species. Warblers, vireos, and other migrant songbirds in spring and fall. Belted Kingfisher, kinglets, Brown Creeper. Waterfowl: Wood Duck, scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Northern Shoveler, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers. Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue and Green Herons, Black-crowned Night-Heron. Rarities: Eared and Horned Grebe, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, and Hooded Merganser. Great Horned Owls stalk the shores. Spotted Sandpipers and other shorebirds on the mudflats.
When to go
Good all year, but best in spring and fall.
Viewing plaza and stone overlooks. Restrooms at Lincoln Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Zoo across Fullerton Pkwy.
Public park. Admission free. Park for free on Cannon Dr. or in lot on Stockton Dr. next to conservatory. Chicago Transit Authority buses 151 (Sheridan) and 156 (LaSalle) stop at Fullerton and Stockton. Chicago Ornithological Society leads Wednesday-morning birdwalks, (312) 409-9678.