Natural areas are open from 6am to 11pm daily.
The McCormick Bird 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. The bird sanctuary, composed of 9 acres of native prairie and woodland, features a created prairie atop of an underground parking garage, which can be viewed from an overlook off Lakeshore Trail. Trails wind from the overlook through a woodland, past a small pond, and into an open prairie and grassland.
The sanctuary provides an integral resting ground to thousands of birds during the migratory season including songbirds, such as kinglets, warblers and thrushes, that migrate through the night to avoid hawks and other predatory birds, which migrate during the day. Chicago is a stopover between their Canadian breeding grounds and winter habitat in Central and South America.
The prairie includes a variety of plants including little bluestem, sideoats grama and prairie dropseed. Prairies like this once covered the drier upland areas of the Chicago region. This Prairie covers an underground parking garage. Outside the fenced prairie area, drifts of native shrubs like hazelnut, spicebush and serviceberry and groves of trees provide valuable cover for wildlife. Throughout the growing season, native grasses and wildflowers provide a succession of colorful blooms. Many blossoms attract insects, and a variety of resident and migrating birds feed on the insects and seeds.
The sanctuary 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.