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Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Black-Crowned Night Herons Fledging at Nature Boardwalk
The black-crowned night herons are always a wonderful sight at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Heron chicks have been heard in the area since early May. Finally, now, a number of them are trying to figure out how to fly.
For the first year of their life, black-crowned night herons are brown in color and have orange eyes. Afterward their adult plumage comes in, and they gain the characteristic black crown on their head.
The individual above was spotted by scientists at the Urban Wildlife Institute as the bird tried to take flight from the benches underneath the trees in the fenced-in area next to Nature Boardwalk. Fledging is a very tiring process for these young birds, and you will often see them taking a break between attempts in the grass beneath the trees. We’re hoping that in the next few days this heron will work out the kinks and fly over to Nature Boardwalk for a snack!
With all the heron chicks around there’s plenty of work for the adult black-crowned night herons. You can consistently see adult herons flying back toward the colony with branches in their beaks, which they use to repair nests, and there are always a few trying to catch some fish near the island at Nature Boardwalk. With all that’s going on, there are some great opportunities to get photos of these state-endangered birds.
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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