Scarlet Tanager. Image Credit: National Park Service.

Next Sunday morning Columbus Park will the venue for the Chicago Ornithological Society’s ongoing exploration of underbirded parks. This field trip will be led by the Gyllenhaal family, who in my mind are Oak Park’s first family of birding. Not an exaggeration there: as of early May they have collectively identified 188 bird species in Columbus Park!

I have been on a number of COS outings over the years, and there is not a group that is more welcoming to the pastime of birding. My birding skills are what you might call “low to intermediate” and COS field trips have been a fun way for me to learn about a part of the natural world that is a lot closer than I sometimes feel. As noted, the tour will be led by Ethan and Aaron Gyllenhaal – and their father Eric. They know the birds in Columbus Park better than anyone -an experience akin to having Billy Williams teach you something about swinging a bat.  

Now, I always love to have an excuse to find and post a picture of a Scarlet Tanager. To me, this is one of those singular creatures that gives me a spark about our natural world. I have seen them in Thatcher Woods, and in the middle of Oak Park. I can’t guarantee you’ll see one at Columbus Park next Sunday, but I can assure you will see something -with wings- that might give you a little more hope about the nature that is right out your door.

Sunday, May 19, 2013 – 7:00 A.M. Meet behind Refectory building (south of Jackson Blvd).

Contact for more information. 


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Dave Coulter

I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...

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