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200 W. Montrose Harbor Dr.
Chicago, IL 60660
Open from dawn to dusk.
Located in Lincoln Park, Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary attracts tens of thousands of migratory birds to stop for rest, food, and shelter each spring and fall. Within the natural area is “The Magic Hedge”, a 150-yard stretch of shrubs and trees, so-called because it attracts a curiously high number of migratory birds. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary and the adjacent Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area, making it an internationally recognized area for birding. Important migrants include most species of warblers seen in the Chicago area, thrushes, sparrows, purple martins, woodpeckers, owls, and many others.
Birding organizations continue to help with public education about the importance of the site, and much of the work that has been done to get the site to its current state of health has been through the support and leadership of dedicated community volunteers. Learn more about ways to get involved in the stewardship of this site by visiting our Community Stewardship Program page.
“The Magic Hedge” at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary did not just appear on its own. In the mid-20th century, the Army leased land at Montrose and built two barracks. Honeysuckle was planted to screen them from public view. Long after the Army left, the honeysuckle, now known to be an invasive species, remained and still forms much of the structure of The Magic Hedge. Ecological enhancements to the area first began in the 1980s, with the introduction of bird-friendly native shrubs such as nannyberry, serviceberry, and sumac.
In 2015, the Chicago Park District and partners, with the input of community members and other stakeholders, created the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary Master Plan to help guide future management of the site. The bird sanctuary increased in size in 2017 with the creation of a butterfly meadow at the west end of the site. The installation of an ADA-accessible trail in 2021 made it easier for a wider range of people to explore one of the most important birding destinations in Illinois.
In 2021, the Chicago Park District installed an accessible 1/3 mile long loop that travels near several popular birding locations including the Magic Hedge, Magic Clump, and the Tangle. Funded in part by a grant from then Illinois Department of Natural Resources, this improvement supports another step in the implementation of the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary Master Plan (2015) and improving access to high-quality natural areas for those with all physical abilities. For additional information, see the Pathway Improvements Update and Frequently Asked Questions related to this project.
2022 and beyond: Restoration of desire trails (areas trampled by visitors going off-trail) and other areas disturbed by trail installation activities will occur in 2021 and 2022. Stewardship continues by the park district and volunteer community. View the Master Plan below for other potential future projects at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary.