As the breeding season for the local population of black-crowned night herons draws to a close, we are seeing fewer and fewer herons at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo with each passing day.
At the peak of this breeding season back in May, we observed just over 400 adult herons. Now all the birds that hatched this year have fledged and are no longer dependent on their parents. In fact, the adult black-crowned night herons, having fulfilled their parental duties, have all taken off by now.
A few dozen fledglings remain at the pond, honing their flying and fishing skills. The fledglings, which seem to get bigger each day, will also be leaving soon, ultimately traveling to their southern winter range. Next spring we’ll begin searching the trees to see if they’ve returned once again to breed in Lincoln Park.
To see the last of the fledglings before departure, I recommend looking around the island in the pond, as this appears to be a favorite hangout. They can often be seen poking around the shore and wading through the shallows. Be sure to come out and wish them bon voyage!