Cook County - Cook County Forest Preserves

John Duffy Grassland

John Duffy Grassland is the part of the John Duffy Forest Preserve south of 131st Street and bordered by Will-Cook Road on the east, Bell Road on the west and private property on the south.  The Red (bridal) trail (download trail map) passes north-south through the middle of the preserve, then heads east along the south edge.  There is a pull-over parking spot on each side of 131st St. where the trail crosses the road but do not block the trail.  There is also a small pull-over parking spot on Will-Cook Rd. on the east side across the entrance to Tampier Lake FP.  On 131st St. to the west of the trail crossing is a parking lot for the bridal trail.  The Forest Preserve District is often slow about opening up the parking lot in the morning.  The preserve consists of larger patches of prairie with several small patches of woodland.

Birds: Look and listen for Dickcissels, Eastern Meadowlark and Eastern Bluebirds in the field south of the parking lot.  A few years ago Henslow’s Sparrows also nested here but disappeared.  However, with the controlled burns at Bergman Slough Field they may return as they have to other places in this preserve.  A mowed trail leads from the parking lot to the Red Trail to the east.  Northeast of the intersection with the Red Trail is a small pond with dead trees.  A number of species nest or visit here.  Nesters include Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Warbling Vireo, Wood Duck and occasionally Red-headed Woodpecker.  In the field stretching east are often Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Dickcissel and Savannah Sparrow.  Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo and Eastern Towhee can be found in the woodlots here and throughout the preserve.  At the gap in the hedge to the east you can find nesting Brown Thrasher, Indigo Bunting, Gray Catbird (all found throughout the preserve, as well) and, sometimes, Eastern Bluebird.  The grasslands on the eastern half of the preserve are the best for Henslow’s, Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows and Bobolink.  On rare occasions there has been a Black-billed Cuckoo in the woodlot to the north.  Red-tailed Hawks nest somewhere in this area.  The woods on the south side hold Red-bellied and Hairy Woodpeckers.  In 2012 there was a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the southern gap in the hedge.  Follow the Red Trail west to where it curves back north.  Along the south end of the north-south leg of the trail there is usually a White-eyed Vireo; in 2012 there were 2 on territory here.  There is usually a Blue-winged Warbler along here, as well.  Cooper’s Hawks have nested in the woodlot on the east side of the trail. 26 June 2010 there was a Prairie Warbler heard singing distantly from the gap between woodlots on the east side of the trail; this was likely a post breeding dispersal but it may be a species to listen for in the next decade.


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