Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

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February 24, 2014
Sharing Notes on Urban Wildlife

For the past few years the Urban Wildlife Institute has been chronicling the diversity of wildlife at Nature Boardwalk and Lincoln Park Zoo. We use motion-triggered camera traps to collect photographs of mammals (coyotes, raccoons, etc.), conduct visual observations of birds and butterflies, and even deploy hoop-net traps to monitor the turtle populations in our ponds.

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October 25, 2010
Basking at the Boardwalk

Humans aren’t the only ones enjoying the warm, sunny fall weather we’ve been having at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Today there were three painted turtles basking on the partially submerged branches around the pond’s island. If you look closely, you can see that the one turtle photographed is taking in the sun and stretching out his back legs.

October 21, 2010
It’s Fall: Time for More Fish!

There are two seasons for fish stocking: spring and fall. Back in the spring we introduced the first batch of fish into the pond at Nature Boardwalk, consisting of bluegill, pumpkinseed and fathead minnows. Now it’s time to introduce the second batch, which includes largemouth bass, the pond’s top predator.

October 19, 2010
What’s Swimming Through the Shallows?

We stocked the pond at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo with fish in July, and we’re already seeing successful reproduction! Bluegill, pumpkinseed and fathead minnows have all produced fry (baby fish).


Fish fry in the waters of Nature Boardwalk.

To see these fish—the first generation since the pond’s transformation—look in shallow areas with some shade.

October 15, 2010
Bird Watching At the Pond

The migratory bird season is upon us, and we’ve been seeing all kinds of exciting new birds visiting Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Here are some of the species we observed just last week.

American Coot
The pond at Nature Boardwalk is the perfect place for this bird to rest and refuel, as its preferred habitat is wetlands with emergent vegetation around the edges.

September 29, 2010
Know the Butterflies of Nature Boardwalk

A while back I wrote a couple blog entries about monarchs and eastern tiger swallowtails—two of the most colorful, largest, and flashiest species of butterflies I’ve encountered at Nature Boardwalk. However, I don’t want to overlook all the smaller butterflies sporting relatively subdued color schemes. These little guys are just as lovely, and they’re a lot easier to come across at the pond. Here’s an introduction to some of the most common species I encounter at Nature Boardwalk.

September 22, 2010
The Painted Turtles Are Here!

Yesterday was an exciting day at Nature Boardwalk! The pond now has 10 new reptile residents.

Kids from Beidler School helped with the painted turtle introduction. I walked to the edge of the water with groups of two or three children, and together we tilted over the individual containers the turtles were housed in. This allowed the turtles to make their way out of the container and then decide where to swim next.

September 14, 2010
What’s Making that Sound?

This male black-legged meadow katydid wasn’t hard to find. All I had to do was follow the relentless chirping! These katydids are loud, chirping and buzzing away throughout the day from a perch on a blade of grass.

So, what’s the purpose of all that racket? This is the serenade the male sings to attract females to his territory to mate.

The singing sound of the males is made by them rubbing their forewings together.

September 10, 2010
Life Cycle of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

This colorful butterfly, flitting between pickerel plants at the water edge, caught my eye while I walked around the Nature Boardwalk one afternoon. This is a female eastern tiger swallowtail. Like so many insects, these butterflies have a fascinating life cycle.

A generation of adult butterflies is called a flight.

August 31, 2010
Dragonfly Metamorphosis In Action

At Nature Boardwalk last week I was able to witness one of nature’s most amazing spectacles right before my eyes, entirely by accident! As the zoo’s coordinator of wildlife management, I spend a lot of time surveying to see which specific species can be found at Nature Boardwalk, but some of my most amazing discoveries are by accident. This was no exception.

I’ve seen many dragonfly exuviae (the shed exoskeletons left behind by dragonflies when they transform from an aquatic nymph to a flying adult), but I’d never seen a dragonfly in the actual process of emerging.

August 24, 2010
Monarch Butterfly With a Secret Past Visits Nature Boardwalk

I was following around a monarch butterfly at Nature Boardwalk the other day, trying to get a decent photograph, when I noticed something unusual about this particular insect. As you might imagine, flying insects don’t pose for pictures very well, so I’d been pursuing this particular butterfly for a while. Luckily that gave me time to realize it had a sticker on one of its wings! As a biologist, I’m familiar with many ways that scientists track wildlife, but stickers on butterflies was something new for me.

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