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S22 Episode 02: Bird Watching


 Steve Constantelos and Joe Suchecki from the DuPage Birding Club talk about birdwatching in the Naperville area and how to get started.

For a list of ParkTalk episodes and series visit

Quotes from the episode:

“Birding is something you can do wherever you go. It’s kind of a combination of hobby and learning and sport. With the way birds migrate, you always have the opportunity to find something different. It gives you a sense of satisfaction and joy, being outside and learning. It’s good for your mental state. Especially these days, it’s a good thing to get out. …I was out yesterday at Springbrook Prairie doing some management work and I heard my first Sandhill cranes flying by. This is about the time that they are migrating back to their breeding spots.  All of a sudden I heard the call, which is very characteristic. I knew they were around somewhere. You have to look way high in the sky. It’s always something to look forward to:  the first migrants coming back in the spring.” – Joe Suchecki

Sandhill crane chicks - photo courtesy of Joe Suchecki

“Growing up here (in Naperville) I really credit a lot of my love of nature to Naperville Park District and Forest Preserve properties. Just love of place, from getting out there and seeing what’s living there, growing up along the DuPage River, it’s the foundation of my interest in nature in general. Everywhere I’ve lived since I’ve carried that with me. …Like Joe was saying, it’s satisfying and challenging, and even aesthetically – it’s restoring. Just standing at DuPage River Park in late summer with dozens of chimney swifts flying all around and feeding before they migrate is an amazing experience or standing in Pioneer Park at the same time of year watching hundreds of cedar waxwings just flying all above in the trees eating insects and berries is one of those things you are just in awe of. It’s a wonderful thing.”
- Steve Constantelos

Our Guests:

Steve Constantelos, currently serving as President of the DuPage Birding Club, grew up in Naperville learning about nature along the DuPage River. He focused more on birding while living in Virginia in the 1990s, witnessing springtime street fights between robins, tracking pileated woodpeckers, dodging mockingbirds, and monitoring bluebird nesting boxes. A Christmas Bird Count back home in DuPage County at that time sealed the deal.

In recent years he's learned to band birds and has taken on leadership roles with the DuPage Birding Club and Bird Conservation Network. During spring and fall migration he rescues birds for the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. He also enjoys trees, squirrels, dragonflies, writing, and music. Current bird project: learning more about the various sparrow species.

Joe Suchecki, past president of the DuPage Birding Club, is a long-time Naperville resident.  He is an avid birder and conservationist and participates in both local and international birding adventures.  Following a long career in environmental management and regulatory affairs, he is now retired and spends much of his time as a volunteer at Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville.

Suggested Naperville Park District parks for birding:

Each of these parks has parking, trails, restrooms and picnic shelters.

Seager Park  

Pioneer Park

Knoch Knolls Park

DuPage River Park

Here is a beautiful interactive illustration from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that displays common birds found in the upper midwest. You can click on each bird to hear its song. 

Learn More about birding at the DuPage Birding Club website

"Our mission is to promote birding among our 300+ members and the general public through field experiences and education that focus on the various habitats in DuPage County, the greater Chicago area, and other regional hotspots. We welcome birders of all skill levels and interest."

On the “Learn About Birds” page, find instructions on the following topics:

  • Beginning Birdwatching
  • Seeing More Birds: Tips for the Beginner
  • Attracting Birds to Your Property
  • Binoculars

 Teachers and parents can find resources to help kids learn about birding on the Tools for Educators page:

  • See a list of common birds in the DuPage County area
  • Bird Bingo Cards to use on an outing
  • Information on requesting a presentation for a classroom

Magnolia warbler - photo courtesy of Joe Suchecki



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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

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We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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