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Friday, August 13, 2010
Birds Foraging At Nature Boardwalk
The fish in the pond at Nature Boardwalk may be small, but they’ve caught the interest of several birds. Black-crowned night herons, green herons and ring-billed gulls have all been observed fishing at the pond. This is a natural—and expected—part of the food web at Nature Boardwalk. We’ve been keeping an eye out for this behavior since stocking the pond with fish in the beginning of July.
Each type of bird uses a different technique to fish.
Green Heron: These clever birds are one of the few bird species to use bait, just like human fishermen! They will sometimes drop twigs, insects or small bits of food into the water to attract fish. When a fish comes within grabbing distance, the heron darts out its head by extending its neck and swiftly grabs the prey. They are so quick that you need to watch carefully to see what they’ve caught before its gone!
Ring-Billed Gull: Although gulls end up eating a lot of discarded food and garbage in cities, fish make up an important part of their natural diet. They fly over the water, looking just below the surface for fish. When they spot one, they swoop down and dip into the water to seize the fish.
Black-Crowned Night Heron: Fledgling black-crowned night herons are learning to fish for the first time. Look for them wading in the shallows around the island or walking on partly submerged tree limbs by the water’s edge. Their technique is similar to that of the green heron, but it’s a bit less complicated. They patiently stand and wait for a fish to swim past, and then they grasp it out of the water.
Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo
By transforming the South Pond into Nature Boardwalk, Lincoln Park Zoo has created an urban ecosystem in the heart of the city. Enjoy a virtual view as native plants and animals establish themselves in this rare refuge.
As Lincoln Park Zoo’s director of horticulture, Brian oversees the zoo’s gardens, from bud to bloom.
As coordinator of wildlife management, Mason chronicles the bugs, birds, fish, insects, mammals and more that make their homes at Nature Boardwalk.
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