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The Burnham Nature Sanctuary is one of the three main areas that make up the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, a 100-acre ribbon of urban wilderness running through Burnham Park. In 1998 the Chicago Park District began natural area improvements at the 9 acre site at 47th Street in Burnham Park. Improvements included rehabilitation and enhancement of the wooded edge, the creation of a butterfly meadow, and the creation of a new prairie. A path winds through the butterfly meadow to the prairie, along the woodland edge. Prairie wildflowers bloom through spring, summer, and fall, providing color and beauty to the landscape. The prairie contains many species of native grasses and wildflowers, including cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), lIttle bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), bee balm (Monarda fistulosa), butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and many others.


The woodland edge supports species such as cottonwood (Populus species), white ash (Fraxinus americana), and serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis). These plants are native to the Chicago region and are important sources of food and cover for birds, caterpillars and butterflies, and many other species of wildlife. This natural area provides sanctuary not only for people, but for many different kinds of native plants and animals. Each year, more than 300 species of birds migrate through Chicago. Some species journey from as far away as the southern tip of Central America. Some continue on as far north as the arctic circle. While here, they need plenty of healthy natural habitat to rest and feed, for which this natural area is ideal.

This natural area has benefited greatly from the dedication and hard work of community volunteers who collect and scatter native seed, plant native species, pick up trash, monitor vegetation and birds, and remove invasive species. Learn more about volunteer opportunities by visiting our Community Stewardship Program page.