Bird list growing at Tri-County State Park
(published 9-30-04)

You know a place is serious about birds—and about attracting birders—when it publishes its own bird checklist. So it is with Tri-County State Park in Bartlett, which I visited for the first time on Sept. 4.

I’m embarrassed that it took me so long to get there. The 500-acre preserve—parts of which are in Cook, DuPage and Kane Counties—opened to the public in April 2003. Since then I’d heard good things about Tri-County, including some very promising bird reports. One that stands out is a field trip last April when birders spotted more than 50 Wilson’s snipe. Talk about a successful snipe hunt!

Tri-County is unique for being a joint venture between the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The Forest Preserve District manages the park and conducts environmental education programs on the grounds and in the impressive new visitor center.

Kevin Luby, one of several naturalists on staff, is Tri-County’s resident bird expert. He told me that nearly 100 species have been seen at the park since record keeping began in June 2003. Notable species sighted this year include bald eagle, osprey, sandhill crane, northern shrike, orchard oriole, yellow-headed blackbird, sedge wren and dickcissel. Among the park’s known breeding birds are wood duck, American woodcock, sora rail and Wilson’s snipe.

In August, birders discovered a common moorhen with four chicks in the wetland just north of the Indigo Trail loop—an excellent find for this area. A couple of those chicks were seen again when I toured Tri-County with the DuPage Birding Club. I was not among the lucky observers, but it was still a great morning. A highlight for me was learning the gurgling song of the marsh wren and then enjoying great looks of the bird at close range.

As a birding venue, Tri-County is very good and will only get better. The park offers five miles of easy-to-walk trails that showcase a nice variety of avian habitats. Native prairie and wetland restoration projects on the former farm fields will produce great benefits for migrating and breeding birds in the coming years. Displays in the visitor center explain the remarkable transformation that is taking place due to the Forest Preserve District’s efforts.

Currently, Luby says, most of Tri-County’s birds are seen in the marsh areas or in shrubby patches along Brewster Creek. For birders who want the “most bang for their buck,” he recommends the short Indigo Trail. He also likes the bridge between the Indigo and Bluestem Trails for spotting warblers and vireos in the spring. Pick up a map (and a bird list) at the visitor center.

Luby will lead bird walks beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 12 and Nov. 9. The walks are free but advance sign-up is required—call (847) 429-4670. The entrance to Tri-County is on the north side of Stearns Road, west of Route 59.

Reiter is a Glen Ellyn, Illinois, resident who became hooked on birding about 10 years ago. He can be reached at

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