LINCOLN SQUARE – Neighbors and birdwatchers are raising money to restore native trees and plants on the River Park shoreline to serve as habitat for birds.
The East Shore of River Park, 5100 N. Francisco Ave., is where the North Shore Channel and the North Fork of the Chicago River converge, and is an important habitat for fish, birds, and other wild animals.
“There’s this great migration of birds … from Mexico and Central America that come up through the middle of the country and into Canada,” said Judy Pollock, president of the Chicago Audubon Society. “Bright city lights divert birds from their migratory path, and as a result, Chicago is an important place for migratory birds.”
But the riverside restoration project that removed invasive trees at River Park three years ago left the shoreline without suitable places for birds to nest or roost, Pollock said.
The Audubon Society, River Park Advisory Council and Park District have partnered to plant native trees in the park, Pollock said.
A fundraiser to cover the cost of new trees and plants has already raised $3,000, Pollock said. Organizers hope to raise $12,000.
“The Park District has been extremely responsive to us,” Pollock said.
As part of a river restoration project, the Park District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers removed invasive trees and plants along the park’s shoreline in 2019 because their roots were not helping to protect it from damage. erosion.
These uprooted trees were planted laterally on the river bank to provide habitat for fish and insects, and the shoreline slope was made more gentle to grow native plant species to better protect against erosion.
But new trees and shrubs planted along the shoreline have not survived the hot, dry summers of 2020 and 2021, and the Park District is supporting the latest community effort to restore trees to the shoreline, spokeswoman Michele said. Lemons.
Since the non-native trees were removed, small birds no longer have places to nest and roost next to the river in River Park, neighbors and birdwatchers said.
“To their credit, the military [Corps of Engineers] has put up lots of native and perennial plants and grasses at ground level that provide food for the birds,” neighbor Colleen McVeigh said. “Problem birds also need a place to hide while they feed. There’s nothing halfway for the birds until you walk up the bank to those giant cottonwoods.
Endangered great blue herons and black-crowned night herons still frequent the river near the park, but smaller songbirds and other migratory birds aren’t as common since non-native trees were removed, McVeigh said.
“The herons there are quite spectacular. But what we don’t have are passerines, those little perching birds that come through a migration looking to stop and rest,” McVeigh said.
These birds are often seen in nearby Ronan Park, where vegetation is denser along the shoreline, creating a “hot spot” for birdwatching, McVeigh said.
By the end of September, the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to complete the removal of invasive trees and plants in River Park along the North Branch Chicago River and in the southern portion of Legion Park along the North Shore Channel, between Foster Avenue and Bryn Mawr Avenue. said park board member Raed Mansour.
“After they leave, we will continue to plant trees as long as it is warm enough,” Mansour said.
Anyone interested in volunteering to plant trees this fall should email the Audubon Society at [email protected] You can donate to the restoration effort here.
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