Let’s Hike at Swallow Cliff South

We’ve been doing a lot of painting and little hiking, so get your hiking boots on and come with me to Swallow Cliff South, part of Chicago’s Cook County Forest Preserves!

Yesterday was a beautiful day, no rain, beautiful sun, not hot and not cold…perfect. I decided to take the yellow trail just to the limestone shelter to do a little birding. Don’t you just love the way the sun lays on the trail? Dancing spots of sun guide our walk. There is something so warm and lovely  about the color of the sun on the trail, someone needs to write a poem about that!

Anyway, the forest was alive with a slew of birds. It was incredibly loud! I heard so many different calls. I wish I had all of them memorized so that I knew what I was hearing because at this spot I could not see them yet.

On the yellow trail going south, right before the trail starts to go west, there is a really neat limestone shelter. It’s not far from the parking lot at all.

Here is a close up. There is seating and some sort of grill/chimney structure in the back which unfortunately is falling apart. The sad part is that people are using the shelter as their own personal garbage dump because inside there were 3 empty Dr. Pepper and 3 empty water bottles. People, come on, really.

The cool part about inside the shelter is a nest!

Look at this beautiful, beautiful nest! I’m guessing it was made by an Eastern Phoebe because my Eastern Birds’ Nests (Peterson Field Guide) book has an identical match. It was on a shelf like structure, constructed with mud, and covered completely with moss. There were no eggs inside but there was a ton of bird poop directly underneath. Maybe the babies have fledged.

Here is a close up of the mud and moss. Let’s take a second to appreciate the fine craftswomen-ship of this nest (my guide books states that the female “mostly or entirely” makes the nest). Well done.

Now here is the best part, right across from the shelter there are a few dead trees that the birds absolutely love! You can comfortably rest in the shelter and wait for the birds to come to you. Here is what I saw in about a one hour period:

  • indigo buntings – male several
  • rose breasted grosbeak – male and female
  • great crested flycatcher –  with bug in bill
  • baltimore oriole – several
  • yellow warbler – 2
  • blue jay
  • cardinal
  • red-bellied woodpecker – male
  • red-bellied woodpecker – juvi no red on head
  • house wren- 2
  • robins – several

I had a wonderful time and I’m going to try real hard to learn all of those bird calls because I know there are a lot missing from my list because I didn’t actually see them. I hope you too enjoyed our hike at Swallow Cliff South!

We love nature!!!


  1. Great area! It’s far too hot here now to even imagine going outside. We’re housebound now ’til late Sept. at the earliest. That’s the downside of Southern living, I guess…

  2. Autour d’articles nommés &#Vaa0;82ri2tions autour du même thème” nous vous présentons un moment de vie, une couleur, une tendance, chacune à sa façon et dans son univers. Le premier de ces articles? Notre rituel du tea time, à découvrir ici!

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