About Us and Contact Us

Beyond the screen of your laptop and your smartphone, nature is alive and well!  Come enjoy!

Jane Masterson is a local photographer and Hyde Park Nature Walk guide.  When she was an adjunct college professor, her students observed plants and birds, collected data and tested hypotheses to try to answer questions such as why some plants bloomed earlier than others and why woodpeckers migrated through before orioles.  And while she no longer teaches at the college level, Jane still enjoys encouraging others to explore the Chicago wilderness.  She promises, no quizzes!  Whether you’d just like to look at the photos of Hyde Park wildlife on this blog or want to come out for a Nature Walk, Welcome!

Next Nature Walk:

Moon watch and Nature walks on hold for now.

Interested in helping save Hyde Park’s wild spots:  habitat for our local wildlife and migrating birds may be replaced by a music venue and concession stand unless you speak up.   Want to help prevent this?  Check out savethisspace.com  and sign up for emails from jacksonparkwatch.com

Contact us with any questions or to discuss setting up a time for a Nature Walk.  Feel free to call (773 – 502 – 3159) or to fill out the form below:

Sunrise walk and more butterflies/moths

All these of photos were taken in the Hyde Park area during the last couple of weeks.   Feel free to join us on a nature walk/moon watch tonight at 6 pm.  We will start at the east entrance of the Museum of Science and Industry.


red spotted purple butterfly



bunny at 47th Street and Cornell


monarchs mating



indigo bunting eating grass seeds


white underwing moth– forewing pattern provides camouflage IF the moth is resting on a birch tree



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sundog- bright spots in the sky caused by refraction of sunlight by tiny ice crystals


juvenile double crested cormorant-The feather structure of cormorants decreases buoyancy so they are better able to catch fish underwater. This feather structure also makes their feathers less waterproof than other water birds’ feathers and so they spread their wings to help them dry faster.


green heron


juvenile black-crowned night heron


purple martins lining up– thinking of heading south?


Mostly herons and butterflies

All photos taken in Hyde Park during the last couple of weeks.  Baby raccoon video was taken in Indiana but a raccoon family was spotted in Jackson Park this past Saturday.

The next nature walk/ moon watch is this Sunday, August 10.  We’ll meet at the east door of the Museum of Science of Industry at 6 pm  for the nature walk and meet at the Field house on the Point for the moon watch at 7:30 (moon rises at 7:43).



cone flower


I saw lots of herons on an evening walk including this great blue heron


black-crowned night heron

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juvenile black-crowned night heron


double-crested cormorant having trouble swallowing a fish


young purple martin begging from a sibling


white-faced meadowhawk dragonfly


spotted sandpiper looking more grown up but no spots yet


very beautiful great blue heron


Museum of Science and Industry


green heron peeking out of nest


juvenile mallards with their mom

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song sparrow singing


song sparrow showing off


tiger swallowtail


monarch butterfly on coneflower

Nature walk/Supermoon watch tonight (rain date, Sunday July 13)

Meet at east door of Science and Industry Museum tonight at 6:30 pm.  Meet at the Fieldhouse on the Point at 8:15 pm for 8:26 moonrise.  Hope to see you there. Rain date, Sunday 6:30 pm for walk,  9 pm for moonrise at 9:10 pm)

None of these photos, except the rainbow ring around the sun, were taken in Hyde Park.  All of these birds can be seen in Jackson Park.

This is a courting display.  I’ve seen a more dramatic version of this head bob but this guy gets extra points for displaying during a strong wind.  This call has been described as sounding like a rusty pump handle.

fledgling blue jay begging

blue jay fledgling

hungry blue jay fledgling

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“To see a Sun or Moon Halo…you need high, thin cirrus clouds which are usually at altitudes above 20,000 feet. These high altitude cirrus clouds are mostly made of ice crystals which refract the sunlight much like a prism will.  Your typical rainbow is seen as a partial circle or arc. Rainbows are round but the ground prevents you from seeing the full rainbow unless you are high above it…or below it like today.” parphased from Boston weather man


Eastern Towhee singing “drink your tea”



fledgling baltimore oriole (3 photos)  The Jackson Park orioles have fledged too but I saw an oriole sitting on her nest today so we may get a second batch of fledglings.

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cedar waxwing

snowy owl back on 63rd Street Pier Sunday–we’ll check out the pier on Tuesday’s nature walk

On December 17th, we will meet at 3:30 pm for a Free Guided Nature Walk.  We meet at the east door (Space Center) of the Science and Industry Museum .  We will use a spotting scope to look at the winter ducks in the 59th Street Harbor and the Lake (63rd and Hayes, where we will hopefully spot the owl).  We will then drive over to the Point for the 5 pm moonrise. 
The meters are expensive if you park right by the East entrance. It is cheaper ($1 an hour) if you turn left into the parking lot. Parking is free if once you are in the parking lot, you drive south past the boats, over the stone bridge and park near the tennis courts. Hope to see you there!   FREE EVENT.  For more information go to passitonchicago.com or call 773-913-2030×3.   Children welcome. Check here if rain date is needed and  Call if you can’t find us: 773-913-2030×3.

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December 1st nature walk and peregrine falcon

Best part of nature walk was a glorious sunset.  Worst part was one of our participants got a prickly pear cactus spine in his foot.  Our local cactus has lovely flowers but nasty spines! The snowy owl and the snow buntings were not seen but we did see a horned grebe, some scaup  and a red-breasted merganser using a spotting scope. The peregrine falcon was at 63rd Street beach the morning after the nature walk.



our local cactus– prickly pear


prickly pear flower


peregrine falcon at 63rd Street Beach




and our little white duck (an unusual mallard duck) that we often saw on the summer nature walks was spotted in Jackson Park near the 59th Street Harbor in early December.  It was good to see he was still around.  He was helping some crows and ring-billed gulls finish off a big bag of potato chips.


Snowy owl and snow bunting seen this morning– we’ll try to see them on the afternoon nature walk

Meet at 3 pm at the East Door (Space Center) of the Science and Industry Museum.Don’t pay to park as we will be driving to the outer harbor (63rd and Hayes) to see the winter ducks and hopefully the snowy owl and snow buntings.

If you don’t have a car, we will carpool to the the outer harbor.


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Sunday nature walks at 12:30 – WILL RESUME IN SPRING

No More 12:30pm Nature on Sundays for the Winter!  See you in Spring!

Enjoy nature your way!
Free of charge  and good for all ages
12:30 pm  on Sundays  starting August 4 through Sunday September 15
Just bring yourself and soak up some beauty OR
Bring your own art supplies to sketch a flower
or a  caterpillar or a landscape OR
Learn how to use a “plant key”  to identify the things
you see or… enjoy nature your way!
Bring binoculars if you’ve got them, bring your eyes if you don’t
Meet at the East entrance of Museum of Science and Industry
Museum  (Space Center and Omnimax Door)
Call for more info:  773 913 2030×3

Photo: Killdeer chick growing up in a Home Depot parking lot in Chicago

Nature Walks for Kids (Wednesdays) – WILL RESUME IN SUMMER

Guided nature walks for children and their caregivers!

Free of Charge   All age friendly
10 am every Wednesday starting August 7 through September 11
Meet at  the East entrance of the Museum of Science and Industry
(Space Center and  Omnimax Door)
We’ll explore bobolink meadow taking time to admire butterfiies,
caterpillars, birds, dragonflies and prairie flowers.
Call for more info:  773 913 2030×3


Come and we’ll try to find this interesting young mallard, photo taken July 28 2013

June 2013: What we saw on nature walk/moon watch

Thanks for coming everyone!   The first 3 photos were taken on the walk and the last 3 photos on the moon watch. Most of the rest of the photos were taken in Jackson Park during the morning using a camera with a zoom lens.   All of you saw some of the things pictured in this blog.  Amazing how long the list was for just an hour’s walk!  And we don’t have photos of everything either!  Jackson Park rocks!! I’d love to see you again  at the next new moon and full moon walks  in August. You are also invited to find some binoculars and join the bird walks that meet on Wednesday mornings (7:15 am ) and Saturday mornings (8 am). in Jackson Park.  See more information above in the “Nature Walk Information” post.


Thanks to Leslie Adkins for taking the first 3 photos!




green heron


caspian tern


male goldfinches


female goldfinch


wood duck


black-crowned night heron


young black-crowned night heron starting to molt into adult plumage


cedar waxwings


wild ginger leaves which we saw with flowers that we didn’t see


mock orange


bullhead catfish


bullhead catfish


cliff swallow nest with cliff swallow peeking out


cliff swallow collecting mud for nest


osaka japanese garden


catalpa flowers


koi in the pond


mallard mother with ducklings


opposite leaves that were not entire (leaves did not have smooth edges) of the beardtongue plant


irregular beardtongue flower that we keyed using Newcomb’s book


yellow warbler with cigarette butt for scale







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