In the 1950s, the U.S. Army leased land along Lake Michigan, outside of Chicago, to build a fort. They planted honeysuckle bushes to shield it from view. By the ‘70s the army had left, but the honeysuckle stayed. Birds (like this Chestnut-sided Warbler) began to flock to this hedge by the dozens, which gave it its nickname the “Magic Hedge.” In the ‘80s and ‘90s, conservationists and birders worked to preserve this area. Now, as many as 346 different bird species flock here annually.
The Magic Hedge
By Ariel Mejia
This is BirdNote.
I’m on my bike in my hometown Chicago, heading to a spot on Lake Michigan’s shoreline called the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary.
[Cycling scene tape]: I’ve got about a mile to go...
The story of this place starts in the 1950s, when the U.S. Army leased the land to build a fort, and planted a ton of honeysuckle to shield it from view. By the ‘70s the army had left, but the honeysuckle stayed, and grew. Birds began to flock to this hedge by the dozens, which gave it its nickname the “Magic Hedge.” In the ‘80s and ‘90s, conservationists and birders worked to preserve this area. Now, as many as 346 different bird species flock here annually.
[Ambient sounds of the sanctuary]
Aerin Tecesco: They turned it into a sanctuary for birds and it was very intentional what they planted, and then over the years they kept trying to fine-tune that.
Aerin Tedesco is the vice president of the Chicago Ornithological Society.
Aerin Tecesco: It’s an amazing place because of the different habitats that it has and how it sticks out into the lake.
I park my bike and walk along the sidewalk, which transitions into a wooded trail. Hello, Magic.
[Scene tape at sanctuary]: A cardinal! Oh my god a whole family, That was a warbler, for sure!
The trail circles around an expansive meadow. In the distance is the lakefront, inviting shorebirds like the endangered Piping Plover.
Over the past two years, birders have helped two broods of plovers by guarding them around the clock.
[Piping Plover field recording]
The word “magic” is apt for this special slice of nature along Chicago’s bustling northside lakefront.
For BirdNote, I’m Ariel Mejia.
Senior Producer: John Kessler
Production Manager: Allison Wilson
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Editor: Ari Daniel
Producer: Ariel Mejia
Field Recordings by Ariel Mejia
© 2020 BirdNote December 2020 Narrator: Ariel Mejia
ID# montrose-01-2020-12-22 montrose-01