An Urban Refuge

Black-Crowned Night Herons Near Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

Black-crowned night herons are endangered in Illinois and thus regulated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. As part of its wildlife conservation efforts, Lincoln Park Zoo scientists monitor heron bird and nest counts in the area surrounding the zoo.

In recent years, heron nesting has moved from the island at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo to the allee (or promenade) south of the pond. (Nests have also been spotted at sites in the zoo and around Lincoln Park.) Unlike the island, which is managed by Lincoln Park Zoo, the allee is managed by the Chicago Park District.

Wildlife biologists from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), Chicago Park District and Lincoln Park Zoo work together to ensure nest areas receive the protection afforded by both the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act and the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A temporary fence in the allee area is the most effective option for minimizing disturbance to the bulk of the heron nests located in the region. This fence is provided in part courtesy of the IDNR Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund.

Overview of Black-Crowned Night Herons near Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo (PDF 47 kb)