Having worked with birds at Lincoln Park Zoo since 2008, I am aware that our feathered residents can signal the coming of spring. At the end of January, we saw exciting activity with the green woodhoopoes in the McCormick Bird House—discarded eggshells were spotted in the exhibit and the adults were busy carrying insects to the nest box.
If, like me, you are a fan of immediate gratification, woodhoopoes are vexing. The chicks stay in the nest box until they are more than a month old. It wasn’t until last week, when the chicks started venturing out of the box for the first time as fledglings, that we could get a headcount.
Thus far four chicks have fledged, but woodhoopoes are known to have as many as six chicks at a time so the keepers continue to watch for more. Everyone is very excited as the woodhoopoe parents have been at Lincoln Park Zoo for just about a year and this marks their first breeding here.
Other birds are welcoming spring, too. The European white storks are bill-clacking and performing courtship dances, while the cinereous vulture male is presenting nesting sticks to his mate.
Outside, at the Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond, the hooded mergansers are exploring their nest boxes. The ice is melting and the trumpeter swans are swimming in tandem. Spring is on its way.
Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds Colleen Lynch