West Ridge Nature Preserve, Park Advisory Council (PAC)

Chicago Park District

Our Nature Preserve Provides Birds with an Essential Habitat

West Ridge Nature Preserve, once part of the larger Rosehill Cemetery area, has long been a haven for birds and a sheer delight for avian enthusiasts. In fact, one of the reasons West Ridge is a preserve and not a park is to provide a bit of protected habitat for birds, especially migrating ones. The migration of birds, many of them endangered, exemplifies our inter-connectedness from one end of the globe to the other.  Bird Sightings

Why Do Birds Matter?  The  responses come from the March-April 2013 Audubon magazine.
“Birds are important because they keep systems in balance: they pollinate plants, disperse seeds, scavenge carcasses and recycle nutrients back into the earth. But they also feed our spirits, marking for us the passage of the seasons, moving us to create art and poetry, inspiring us to flight and reminding us that we are not only on, but of, this earth.” –Melanie Driscoll, Director of bird conservation for the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Flyway.
“Birds are everywhere and provide us with one of the most exciting ways to connect with nature. There are so many questions that emerge when we start looking.” –Chris Wood, ebird director.

“No other creature can transcend earth, evoke beauty, inspire dreams and ground us in nature as does the smallest bird.” –Julie Sacco, Director of North Park Village Nature Center.

“Birds are amazing creatures . . . Some accomplish incredible flights across thousands of miles. Some have adapted to their environments in intriguing ways. We have much science to learn from all of them. –Phillip Witmer, Board treasurer, Buck County Audubon Society.

“As one has said some time ago, all birds are the “canary in the coal mine” for our environment. We need to pay attention to the birds around us to recognize environmental changes and problems. –Laurence L. Falk, Nebraska.

“Birds matter because we can matter to them. By protecting or restoring habitat, keeping our cats indoors, curbing pesticide use and using BirdTape on our windows, we can help keep common birds common and bend the curve on population loss for threatened and endangered species.” –Carl Schwartz, Coordinator, Bird City, Wisconsin

Our Park Advisory Committee members also believe that birds matter. We hope you find joy in the birds' activities, songs, and colors as you walk the preserve paths. We also hope you help us maintain a supportive habitat, especially by staying on the paths and keeping your dogs at home.

You are invited to report any bird sightings on ebird as you enjoy the preserve.

People Like Watching and Identifying the Many Birds                                Bluebird

The accompanying bird photos illustrate those you might see, depending on the season and the prevalence of certain species. The photos are arranged alphabetically. Here are a few birds to look for in and around the pond on a daily basis: Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Canada Goose, Wood Duck with ducklings, Mallard with ducklings, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, and Caspian Tern.


Black-capped Chicadee


Female Red-necked Duck


Male House Finch


Great Crested Flycatcher


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird


Green Heron


American Kestrel


Female Belted Kingfisher


Female Orchard Oriole


Baltimore Oriole


Male American Redstart


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


Northern Shoveler


Song Sparrow


Wood Thrush


Black-throated Blue Warbler


Black-and-white Warbler


Male Yellow Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Cedar Waxwing


American Woodcock


Common Yellowthroat


Double-crested Cormorant


House Finches


Canada Geese


Cooper's Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Dark-eyed Junco


Black-crowned Night-heron




Golden-crowned Kinglet


Male Orchard Oriole


Juvenile Eastern Phoebe


Tree Swallows


Hermit Thrush


White-crowned Sparrow


Summer Tanager


Tennessee Warbler


Cerulean Warbler


Cape May Warbler


Yellow-rumped Warbler


Magnolia Warbler


Cedar Waxwings feeding each other


Male Red-bellied Woodpecker

Jerry Goldner - Photographer

Jerry is the founder of Profiles of Nature and has published over 100 photos and videos. His work has been featured at The Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in three exhibits (“Owls of Illinois"). His photos have also been featured: on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight over a dozen times, The Chicago Tribune, The Field Museum, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Chicago Ornithological Society, FPDCC, Chicago Park District, newspapers, books and magazines.