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9 Birdwatching Spots


This is the perfect weather to bird-watch in McHenry County as bird species come to visit from the north.

As frosty weather rolls in, many birds migrate for warmer weather – and let’s face it, we humans tend to “migrate” indoors for the same reason. But there are a number of northern bird species that consider McHenry County a winter destination – from short-eared owls to European goldfinches – making this time of year a great opportunity to get out and bird-watch.

Best Local Winter Bird-Watching Sites

1.  Glacial Park for winter owls (short-eared owl) and hawks (northern harrier and rough-legged hawk).

2.  The pines at Pleasant Valley for owls.

3.  Rural farm roads (such as Dunham Road) for snow buntings, Lapland longspurs and horned larks, and possibly pheasants.

4.  Areas with extensive pines every other year for Red-breasted Nuthatches.

5.  Bird feeders throughout the county for migrant northern finches (redpolls, crossbills and evening grosbeaks). This is especially true if there are good pine plantings around the feeders.

6.  Volo Bog for long-eared owls. In late fall, there can be thousands of robins eating berries in the bushes around the bog.

7.  Open water on the Fox River for waterfowl and gulls. There is even a possibility of a bald eagle in winter if enough open water persists for them to catch fish. There are two summer nests – one at the south end of Grass Lake (Antioch, Ill.) and one on the Fox River just north of Dundee.

8.  Brookdale for European goldfinches.

9.  Brushy area near open fields for tree sparrows.

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