Three months have passed since we finished the 2013 Lincoln Park migratory bird survey. From March to May, Research Intern Kelvin Limbrick and I slowly walked three separate 1.5-mile-long transects spanning the length of Lincoln Park, from Diversey Parkway all the way down to North Avenue.
Armed with binoculars and waterproof field notebooks, we aimed to recreate a bird survey conducted from 1898–1903 by Herbert Eugene Walter and his wife Alice. With these data we will make comparisons between the migratory bird community 100 years ago and today.
How was it in the field? Freezing in March, windy and wet in April and by the end of May we were the recipients of rather dramatic tan lines from our t-shirts and binocular straps (which we now refer to as biologist tans). Above all else we were truly amazed by the overwhelming species diversity we saw throughout the entirety of Lincoln Park.
Anything to Report?
With so much data to enter, we are about two thirds of the way through. We’ve currently entered more than 4,000 individual records of 113 different bird species into our database.
A gray catbird was one of 113 bird species spotted by the scientists during their transects through Lincoln Park. Photo by Forrest Cortes.
When the entry task is finished, we can move on to an analysis of the data. While it would be incredibly difficult to restore some of the bird species that previously used Lincoln Park as a migratory stopover point, this research will help identify bird species that have been negatively impacted by more than 100 years of urbanization as well as those who are more frequent because of it.
On top of that we can also quantify which area of Lincoln Park has the “best birding.” Do you think you know where it is? Let us know in the comments!
Mason Fidino is coordinator of wildlife management for Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute.