Wake-Up Call

The sun is shining at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Coinciding with the sunshine and warmer temps, there have been some exciting developments at the pond this week. The ecosystem and its inhabitants are gradually waking up from a stretch of relative inactivity during the winter.

The wood duck pair take to the trees (female on the right).

As a result, we now have a pair of wood ducks at the site! A few weeks ago I saw a lone female. Then for a while I was seeing a lone male. But today, for the first time, I’ve seen the happy couple together, paddling about by the edge of the island. Now if only the lone American coot that has been at the pond for the last few weeks could find a mate as well…we’ll see.

A Canada goose and American coot share a bit of deadfall.

Additionally, there was a cacophony of songs today from red-winged blackbirds, chipping sparrows and song sparrows as well as the very loud and rambunctious calls of Canada geese and ring-billed gulls.

In another 2011 first, I also saw little fish swimming through the shallows at Nature Boardwalk. The fish survive the winter by dramatically slowing down their metabolism and waiting out winter at the bottom of the pond, under the ice.

For this reason, it was important to deepen the pond at Nature Boardwalk during renovation. Now it’s as deep as 20 feet in the middle.

I also saw some flying insects today, an important change from winter. The mere presence of bugs might not seem that exciting, but it foreshadows that insect-eating birds, such as swallows, will be arriving soon. Stay tuned!

Vicky Hunt


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