PERKINS WOODS FOREST PRESERVE HAS BEEN AN ENSBC LONG-TIME FAVORITE LOCATION. ENSBC MEMBERS SUPPORT PERKINS WOODS AS A PROJECT-PARTNERSHIP.
PERKINS WOODS IS A SMALL GEM IN THE FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT OF COOK COUNTY.
It’s about 7 acres and is located in northwest Evanston, next to Lincolnwood School, and is bordered by Grant Street, Ewing Avenue and Colfax Streets. It has long been a destination for birding and a beautiful display of spring wildflowers. ENSBC members have been caring for the woods since the 1950s, and in 1991, Perkins had its first official Forest Preserve Volunteer Steward, an ENSBC member. In 2020, when Perkins Woods volunteers began raising funds to plant shrubs to improve the habitat for birds, ENSBC officially adopted the woods and became its financial manager.
In 2019, the Forest Preserve District, after removing about 50 dead ash trees that threatened to come down on the path, cut many Norway maples from the parkway. (The parkway is owned by the City of Evanston.) The maples had been deeply shading the woods’ interior. Once light reached in, the shrubs responded by growing and blossoming fully. More blossoms, more berries, more birds. Today, more sunshine reaches into the woods and the shrub layer of chokecherries, grey dogwoods, prickley ash, nannyberry and others are thriving. Unfortunately, the virburnum beetle has devastated patches of Arrowwood Viburnum.
The Perkins family provided a gift of $1500 to plant shrubs to replace the trees and also to replace a grove of ash saplings that volunteers removed from the center of the woods. In fall, 2021, a group of volunteers dug out hundreds of buckthorn, some in impenetrable thickets. In spring, 2021, a fundraising drive raised over $3,000 to replace that buckthorn with more shrubs. Shrubs planted on April 25, 2021 include: Red-osier dogwood, Gooseberry, American Plum, Chokecherry, Hazelnut, Blue Beech and Prickley Ash, Spicebush, Nannyberry, Blue-fruited Silky Dogwood, and Elderberry, all native and recommended for planting anywhere in Northeastern Illinois. In April, 2022, volunteers planted another group of shrubs and trees in the northeast corner of the woods: Grey Dogwood, Gooseberry, Blue Beech and Swamp White Oak. Friendly neighbors have allowed us to hook hoses up to their water faucets to water the plants during the extended drought, that lasted until July.
In Summer, 2023, three deer were born in Perkins and remained with their mother and occasional visits by a buck. The deer family began preying on the rich floral layer and some of the new shrubs, especially elderberrty, necessitating cages around those shrubs planted by volunteers.
ENSBC offers May and September birdwalks during migration season.