Cantigny is an excellent place to watch birds, especially in the spring and fall! The 500-acre property features good habitat variety and is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Organized bird walks at the park began in 2008 and are conducted in partnership with the DuPage Birding Club. The walks are free, friendly and new birders are always welcome. Kids ages 8 and up are also welcome if accompanied by an adult. Please note that most walks have a participation limit (usually 15 or 20) and advance registration is required.
To stay informed, join the Cantigny Birding e-mail list. You’ll receive bird walk reports and, occasionally, messages about rare birds seen on the estate. Send your request to Jeff Reiter at email@example.com.
Seasonal Bird Walks
Bird walks at Cantigny Park, Cantigny Golf and sometimes in neighboring St. James Farm Forest Preserve are held March through December in partnership with the DuPage Birding Club. Check the Cantigny.org calendar for dates, locations and starting times, which vary by season. Most walks are capped at 20 participants. Binoculars are available for borrowing on a first-come, first-served basis.
We celebrate World Migratory Bird Day every May by hosting the “Birdwatching Open” at Cantigny Golf. The event brings attention to the important role that golf courses can play in providing high-quality habitat for birds. The 13th Annual Birdwatching Open will take place May 7, 2022. For safety, participation is limited to 15 birders, and registration is required. To sign up, send an email to Jeff Reiter at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Birdwatching Open” on the Subject line.
Observing birds from one place, instead of walking around, can be an effective strategy. Birders call it a “Big Sit.” Our first such event took place on top of Cantigny Park’s Butterfly Hill on September 14, 2019. It’s a great spot and we’ll be there again on September 10, 2022.
Purple Martin Colony
Cantigny Golf is proud to host a thriving colony of Purple Martins, North America’s largest member of the swallow family. Look for the apartment-style houses on the right as you approach the Cantigny Golf Academy. There’s even a street sign: Purple Martin Place. The birds usually arrive in early April and stay until early August before migrating south.
Birding for All
Our “Accessible Birding” outings, inspired by Birdability.org and initiated in 2021, aim to make birdwatching more inclusive. For these walks, tailored for those with limited mobility, we stay on firm or hard surfaces–fine for those using canes, walkers and wheelchairs. Our pace is “slow and easy,” taking advantage of Cantigny’s new pathways and benches as we explore areas close to the Visitors Center. Beginning birders are welcome, and binoculars are available for borrowing. Wheelchairs are also available for sign-out at the Visitors Center information kiosk.
Bluebird Nest Boxes
More than 50 nest boxes for Eastern Bluebirds are located throughout Cantigny Park and Cantigny Golf. The houses are carefully monitored each year to measure nest productivity. Tree Swallows, Black-capped Chickadees and House Wrens sometimes occupy the houses, too.
Chimney Swift Tower
A custom-made tower was erected near the Idea Garden in 2012, a generous gift from Jackie Vernot and Ray Kotz. Swifts nested in it for the first time in 2015. The tower features a bulletin board with information about Chimney Swifts and the Cantigny birding program.