Photo of Belted Kingfisher by Ryan Sanderson
Forsythe Park and Wolf Lake are located on the northwest side of Hammond, Indiana. Historically the Wolf Lake area was part of a complex of shallow lakes, wetlands, and beach ridges and was directly connected to Lake Michigan. The Illinois-Indiana state line (Stateline Road) nearly bisects the lake. According to the U.S. Geological Survey topographic map for the area, the lake covers 976 acres: 476 acres in Indiana and 500 acres in Illinois. Wolf Lake consists of nine distinct pools separated by dikes and Stateline Road. The dikes and pools were constructed during sand and gravel dredging for the Indiana Toll Road, which crosses the lake. Since the Indiana Toll Road bisects Indiana waters into east and west, the western side of Hammond must be accessed on the Illinois side at William W. Powers State FWA (123rd St. and Avenue “O”, Chicago). Once inside Powers, the Indiana side can be reached by immediately turning left and taking the north road around the northern side to Stateline Road.
Forsythe Park is situated on the northwest end of Wolf Lake. The road through Forsythe Park is one-way and one can park along it. Check the lake for waterfowl. After passing the baseball diamonds one can see a patch of wildflowers–the only understory in the park. This patch provides special protection for migrants such as rails. A vagrant Vermilion Flycatcher faithfully perched on the baseball field fence and shrubs for over two months in the fall of 1997. Next is a tract of deciduous trees. The tract, particularly where clustered trees form canopies along with nearby pines, is a magnet for large numbers of warblers in the spring and fall.
Typical Time to Bird Site: 75 minutes
- On the lake, grebes, herons, ducks, gulls, and terns are regular. Hawks, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, warblers, blackbirds and finches are common in the Wolf Lake area in general. Under the trees, in wet sunken ground, thrushes and sparrows mix with some warblers such as Ovenbird and Northern Waterthrush.
- Specialty Species:
- During the summer, at dusk, flocks of Black-crowned Night Heron fly overhead from a southeast Chicago rookery to feed in wetlands bordering Lake Michigan.
- Yellow-headed Blackbirds can be seen annually in the spring and fall foraging in the lawn grass by the road. They are usually seen between the wildflower patch to the where the road curves left. The birds nest across Wolf Lake at the stateline Eggers Woods and marsh.
- Monk Parakeets occasionally show up in the park. They are permanent residents in William W. Powers FWA and on Greenbay Ave. in Burnham.
- Shorebirds such as Dunlin, Wilson’s Snipe, and dowitchers can appear in flocks when rain accumulates in pools in the park. Winter gulls such asGreat Black-backed, Lesser Black-back, and Thayer’s sometimes are visible on ice floats.
- Noteworthy Records:
- Common Loon
- American White Pelican
- Cattle Egret – (07-13-May-1998, high count of 10); (18-Apr-2002); (23-24-Apr-2002)
- Marbled Godwit – (27-Apr-2001)
- Franklin’s Gull
- Black Skimmer – (10-12-Oct-2004)
- Vermilion Flycatcher – (27-Sep-1997 through 13-Dec-1997)
- Yellow-throated Vireo
- Connecticut Warbler
- Mourning Warbler
- Horned Lark
- Lapland Longspur
- Clay-colored Sparrow
GENERAL SITE INFORMATION
Ownership:City of Hammond, IndianaHammond Parks and Recreation Department: 219-853-6378Hours:None.Fees:None.Access Restrictions:Not all of the lake is accessible to the public. A non-accessable corn processing plant spreads along the west side and the southeast end has truck haulers and other commercial properties along Sheffield Ave.Restrooms:None.Lodging:Hotel accomodations are available in Hammond.Special Considerations:Parking: Park along the one-way road that runs through Forsythe Park.Temporal Considerations:Forsythe Park is located less than one mile from Lake Michigan and is connected to the bistate Calumet Region ecosystem comprised of a vast network of lakes, wetlands, forest, and prairie habitats. During the summer, herons from the nearby Chicago rookery are regular visitors at Forsythe Park. March through early June and August through early November are the best times to find migrants in the park.Nearby Birding Sites:
Wolf Lake Park: 121st St. Calumet Ave. Seasonal parking fees. A walk/bike path connects Wolf Lake to Forsythe Park.
South Wolf Lake: The entrance is at 129th and Sheffield Ave. The road is full of potholes and there is no security on this end. Fly dumping is evident. However, because it is isolated and left natural, the shrubs, grasses and wildflowers along the marsh and in the field draw a variety of swallows, warblers and sparrows. Vesper, Clay-colored, and Harris’s Sparrows have been seen in the spring and fall. The slag “mudflats” attract some common shorebirds.
William W. Powers FWA Office: 12949 S. Ave. “O”, Chicago, IL 60633, 773-646-3270. Open 6 a.m. until sunset. Access to Stateline Road is closed during hunting season, the second week of October through the second week in January. Owned and managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Little Blue Herons frequent the area spring through fall. Mixed habitat draws a good variety of migrants.
Lake George: 125th St. and Calumet Ave. Across from Wolf Lake Park. The best place for viewing migrating waterfowl including Tundra Swan in the Lake Calumet Region. Parking Lot at corner of 125th and Calumet Ave.
- Brock, Kenneth J. Birds of the Indiana Dunes. Revised Edition. The Shirley Heinze Environmental Fund, 1997.
- Keller, Charles E., Shirley A. Keller, and Timothy C. Keller. Indiana Birds and Their Haunts: A Checklist and Finding Guide. Second Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.
- Carpenter, Lynne, and Joel Greenberg. A Birder’s Guide to the Chicago Region. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1999.
- DeVore, Sheryl. Birding Illinois. Helena, Montana: Falcon Press, 2000.
Author: Carolyn A. Marsh, Whiting, IN
Editor: Darel Heitkamp
Photo: Ryan Sanderson, Indianapolis, INLocation
Lake County, Indiana
Indiana DeLorme Page 18, Grid B-3, “Wolf Lake”
Illinois DeLorme Page 29, Grid 29-C-7, “Wolf Lake”
GPS: 41º 41′ 48.3″ N
87º 30′ 43.9″ WDirections
From the South: Take I-65 to I-90, the Indiana Toll Road. Go west on I-90 and exit at #O (the last Indiana exit before entering the Chicago Skyway and Illinois). The exit road leads to 108th and Indianapolis Blvd. (U.S.12, 20, 41). Turn right onto Indianapolis Blvd and follow U.S. 41 a few blocks to Calumet Ave (U.S. 41) Turn right onto Calumet Ave. and go to 119th St. Turn right on 119th St. and proceed into Forsythe Park.
From the East: Take I-90 (the Toll Road) west across northern Indiana. Continue west to exit #O. Also, I-94 west and exit onto I-90 at exit #16 and then continue west on I-90 to exit #O. Follow above directions.
From Chicago: Take U.S. 41, which parallels Lake Michigan, to Ewing Ave. At 100th and Ewing turn left onto Indianapolis Blvd. Follow above directions. From the Dan Ryan/I-94 take the Chicago Skyway Toll (I-90) and exit at 105th and Indianapolis Blvd. Follow top directions.
From Illinois: Take I-80, I-294 into Indiana to U.S. 41. Turn left, on U.S. 41 and continue north to11900 Calumet Ave. Turn left at 119th St. and proceed into Forsythe Park. Also take south 95th St. in Chicago (U.S. 12, 20) east to Ewing Ave. Turn right and go to 100th Ewing and turn left onto Indianapolis Blvd. Follow top directions.
From Hammond to William W. Powers FWA:Go to 110th and Indianapolis Blvd (smoke shop) and turn left. Then take another left to 112th. Turn right onto 112th and go about 1.5 miles to Avenue “O” in Chicago. Turn left and go to 123rd. William W. Powers FWA is on left side of the road.
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