Hotspots Near You

273. Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Illinois

This park near Chicago attracts dozens of warbler species, Purple Martin, and Red-headed Woodpecker, among others.

Visitors to Cantigny Park can enjoy two museums, beautiful gardens, and a 27-hole golf course. It’s a busy place, especially on summer weekends. But the birds don’t seem to mind, including the Wild Turkeys that patrol the grounds.

I started a birding program here in 2008, in partnership with the DuPage Birding Club. The monthly walks (March through December) are well attended and often attract new birders. We host the Birdwatching Open, our annual May birdathon, on the golf course. The event coincides with World Migratory Bird Day, and we usually find at least 80 species.

Besides turkeys, Cantigny is known for two birds uncommon to the area. Red-headed Woodpeckers favor the golf course habitat with its large oaks, and a thriving Purple Martin colony can be observed from May through July. Fifty bluebird houses dot the landscape as well. The park’s Chimney Swift tower, built in 2012, went unoccupied its first two seasons. But I’ll never forget the day I looked inside and found tiny white eggshells on the floor and a nest above. Success! Cantigny’s diversity of natural habitats makes it a worthy venue for birds and birders.

 

273. Cantigny Park, Wheaton, Illinois

Directions

Cantigny Park, named after a small village in France, is the 500-acre former estate of Chicago Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick. Operated by the nonprofit McCormick Foundation, the property is 35 miles due west of Chicago. From I-88, take the Winfield Rd. exit and go five miles north to the park entrance.

Downloadable Files

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
41°51’15.38″N 88°9’17.62″W

Habitat

Open woodland, wetlands, ponds, constructed native prairie, display gardens, and golf course.

Terrain

Generally flat with a few gentle inclines. Paved and crushed stone pathways are wheelchair-accessible. A two-mile trail is wood-chipped.

Birds

158 species. Year-round: Wild Turkey, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Eastern Bluebird, Red-headed Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Cedar Waxwing. Spring, summer: Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Caspian Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Chimney Swift, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Kingbird, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, up to 25 warbler species (in May), Yellow-throated Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Purple Martin. Rarities: Northern Shrike, Common Redpoll, Black-billed Cuckoo, Rusty Blackbird, Tufted Titmouse, Clay-colored Sparrow, Wood Thrush; Nashville Warbler on 2015 Christmas Bird Count.

When to go

From May through summer; birding is best when park opens at 7 am.

Amenities

Visitor center has gift shop, food, restrooms, and infomation kiosk. Additional restrooms at education center. Binoculars available for borrowing at kiosk (free). Bird sightings posted at Chimney Swift tower. Monthly bird walks March through December.

Access

A nonprofit park. Open to public. Regular parking $5; weekends $10, May through September. Fee waived for bird walks, and for those entering park on foot or bike. Bird on golf course during scheduled walks only.

Tips

Check new wetland area with native aquatics opening summer 2018. Idea Garden is a hummingbird magnet in late summer.

For more info

Cantigny Park, (630) 668-5161

Sites nearby

St. James Farm, McKee Marsh, and Elsen’s Hill

These DuPage Forest Preserve District sites practically surround Cantigny. Elsen’s, part of West DuPage Woods, is outstanding for spring warblers.

Morton Arboretum, Hotspot Near You No. 26

10 miles southeast of Cantigny, off Rte. 53 in Lisle. Excellent for spring warblers, including Yellow-throated.

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Jeff Reiter

Jeff Reiter handles communications at Cantigny Park and writes “Words on Birds,” a newspaper column and blogHe is a past president of the DuPage Birding Club and received the Excellence in Environmental Reporting Award from Chicago Audubon Society in 2015.

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