Bubbly Creek is home to some scrappy birds
Tiny pieces of habitat are all that remain in an industrial hardscape.
Surrounded by an industrial hardscape, hemmed in by asphalt and concrete, the Canalport Riverwalk only has shreds of anything resembling habitat. The site faces scrap-metal giant Sims Metal Management, which has drawn neighborhood concerns for emitting toxic pollution. The walkway along the South Branch is just downstream from Bubbly Creek, a “great open sewer” in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.”
If you like birding alone, if you like looking for winter waterfowl, this is the spot for you. As long as it’s free of ice, which it often is, there’s usually a variety of ducks including Common Goldeneye and duck-like swimmers such as the Pied-billed Grebe. One might get lucky and see a Belted Kingfisher angling for prey along the jetties and pilings. Or a Red-tailed Hawk scanning for a meal on the edge of a towering pile of scrap.
That birds utilize this area at all is a testimony to their persistence more than anything. It’s a place where damage to the environment mostly can’t be undone, once this was a vibrant wetland that formed a natural water route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Humanity has transformed this spot forever, and yet the birds are there.
If you want to experience 90 seconds of this place, check out the following video, which chronicles a Jan. 21 visit. Video credit: Mitchell Wenkus.
A modest proposal
I’m not a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks’ name and logo. So here’s a suggestion, why not rename the organization the “Chicago Black Hawks” and honor our local avifauna? One of my favorite species to see in the winter is the dark morph of the Rough-legged Hawk—a black hawk. Imagine the awareness of bird conservation efforts if the Chicago team went with this idea and contributed funds toward protecting our wildlife. Honoring our black hawks would be worth it for environmental reasons and would give the sad-sack Original Six team a chance to hit the reset button.
This Friday, Audubon Great Lakes is hosting a free Great Lakes Piping Plover webinar in partnership with Michigan Birds, Detroit Zoo and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Check it out starting at 11 a.m. Central…..As first reported in this space in November, Chicago Ornithological Society has installed a radio antenna at Big Marsh to track migrating birds. Learn more via Block Club Chicago….. The Kirtland’s Warbler Festival is back, slated for June 3-4 in Roscommon, Mich. The festival celebrates the return of the charming warblers that have returned from the brink of extinction…..Next up in the debate about the Carvana glass tower in Skokie: the Feb. 7 meeting of the Skokie Village Board.
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I think the Black Hawk idea is brilliant!