DOWNTOWN — As millions of birds migrate through Chicago, there's a tiny spot of land right in Downtown that's just for them.
On the farthest southeastern and northeastern points of the Jardine Water Purification Plant just north of Navy Pier are two half-acre spots filled with trees. The mini-forests are off limits to humans, except for a select few Jardine employees.
"This is strictly for the birds," Chicago Water Department spokesman Gary Litherland said. "Almost nobody has access. It's for the birds to inhabit."
Senior Editor Justin Breen is very proud about his stature in the birding community.
The Jardine Bird Sanctuary was completed in 2001 after the areas were cleared of overgrowth and non-native species. It now consists of more then 400 trees, including ironwood, shingle oak and black cherry, according to the City of Chicago website.
Litherland said he's not sure what birds nest or pass through the preserve, but warblers, sparrows, thrushes, woodpeckers, kingfisher, hawks, cardinals, goldfinches and dozens of other bird species use Chicago as part of their twice-a-year migration routes. It's also a safe haven for birds, who face peril and many times die flying into the city's skyscrapers.
Litherland said the area occasionally is cleared of underbrush by Jardine employees. Other than that, it's left alone.
"It can be a very quiet and pleasant place," he said. "We've cleared out all the underbrush so the birds have a safer place to roost."
There are no plans to make the Jardine preserve available for public use, he said.
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