Who watches the watchers? (iStock/tracielouise)

Top 5 campus birds

A list of beginner’s birds for aspiring birdwatchers. 

More than 150 species of birds have been observed on UChicago’s leafy campus, says Edward Warden, AB’18, president of the Chicago Ornithological Society. For aspiring birdwatchers, Warden suggests “a few easy ones”—Hyde Park regulars that should not be too hard to spot.



“Super common but instantly recognizable. Plus every year that they show up at Botany Pond, they become instant celebrities—especially when ducklings are involved.”

Gray catbird

Gray Catbird

“A deceptively common bird that isn’t as often seen as it is heard. True to its name, this species has a conspicuous catlike call that can be confused for a real cat or other animal.”

American crow


“Ubiquitous, hard to miss, and a fan favorite. The well of information on these hyperintelligent birds is bottomless.”

Downy woodpecker

(iStock/Pito Fotos)

“Our most common woodpecker species, seen on campus year-round. It’s cute, versatile, and can readily be recognized by sight and sound.”


“Much maligned but massively underrated. These birds are more than just a favorite food for peregrine falcons. They’re also one of the most widely distributed species globally, they’re extremely well adapted to urban environs, and they’ve served humans in numerous capacities throughout history.”