The large number of bird species observed on the Lake Forest College Campus (see list below) testifies both to the richness of Lake Forest College as a bird habitat, and also to the fervor with which birdwatching is pursued by members of the College community.
Various features of the natural environment and campus community combine to make Lake Forest College a birding mecca among liberal arts colleges.
Among these are:
Ravine woodland. The floristically-diverse old-growth deciduous forest growing in the ravines that cradle the campus support some of the region’s less-abundant breeding and wintering woodland birds, as well as a full complement of the woodland migrants that pass through the region in spring and fall.
Shooting Star Savanna. The College’s restored savanna supports a densely vegetated understory in which many species of grassland-loving migrant birds have been found, and in which brilliant blue Indigo Buntings breed.
Proximity to Lake Michigan. Our location approximately one kilometer from Lake Michigan places us in good position to observe waterbirds occasionally flying overhead, as well as large numbers of migrating birds that may become concentrated along Lake Michigan’s western shore during spring and fall migration when there are strong west winds.
Lake Forest College Bird Observatory. This is the name given to the observation platform on the roof of the Carnegie Building on middle campus. During the spring and fall migrations, faculty, classes, and even birdwatchers from outside the College community frequently visit the Observatory, where the above-treetop vantage point affords spectacular bird viewing opportunities. Virtually every species of raptor occuring in the eastern and central United States has been observed from the LFCBO, as well as a great variety of migratory ducks, geese, cranes, nighthawks, songbirds, swifts, shorebirds, and even migrating Monarch butterflies. Upwards of 3000 Sandhill Cranes, 300 Turkey Vultures, or 500 Broad-winged Hawks have been counted from LFCBO in spans of a few hours.
Chicago Birdathon. The “Alcid-minded professors,” Lake Forest College’s faculty/staff team, has been a strong competitor in Chicago Audubon Society’s annual Cook County Birdathon, taking first place in the event in 4 consecutive years from 2002-5.