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.

Older Stories

February 3, 2012
An Unexpected, but Welcome, Visitor

An unexpected visitor has made its way over to the pond at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. This gorgeous male wood duck was spotted paddling about in the open water just last week. Spotting this bird, with his exuberantly colorful plumage, is sure to brighten even the dreariest winter day. This flashy duck draws your eyes with iridescent greens and purples, a spotted chest and a flamboyant crest that extends out from the back of his head.

January 12, 2012
Black-Crowned Night Herons Stop Over

Black-crowned night herons have been spotted on the island at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo as recently as Tuesday. While a few herons resting in the trees from time to time pales in comparison to the rambunctious colony that made its home at the site last year, these occasional visitors are of interest because they represent a new development.

January 9, 2012
Christmas-Morning Coyotes

Wildlife cameras reveal that a variety of creatures were stirring at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo on the night before Christmas this year, including this pair of coyotes. This photo was taken on 12/25/11 at 3:09 a.m. by a motion-triggered wildlife camera positioned in a grassy area near the pond at Nature Boardwalk.

As this photo highlights, coyotes are active mainly at night in urban areas.

December 20, 2011
What Do Painted Turtles Do in Winter?

Painted turtles in climates like ours hunker down for winter and don’t emerge until the sun is out and plants are sprouting again in the spring. On particularly cold, blustery winter days, I tend to think that isn’t a bad plan!

Painted turtles bask at Nature Boardwalk in this photo from April 2011.

December 9, 2011
What Do Squirrels Do in Winter?

Brrr, it’s getting cold outside! Have you ever wondered how animals like squirrels survive Chicago’s freezing temperatures without so much as a coat? While people typically respond to the cold by staying inside and putting on layers, it turns out squirrels have a similar strategy for dealing with the challenges of winter.

December 5, 2011
Ring-Necked Duck Joins the Waterfowl Party

Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo has been hosting a diverse array of native waterfowl lately! We’ve been seeing American coots and a female long-tailed duck for some time now.

November 22, 2011
Long-Tailed Duck at Nature Boardwalk

A female long-tailed duck has been paddling and flapping her way around Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo for the last week and a half, much to the delight of local bird watchers. Long-tailed ducks are named after the very long, slender tail feathers of the male ducks of this species.

These birds are fancy dressers in more ways than one.

November 3, 2011
Preparing the Island for Spring

This week zoo horticulturists and wildlife biologists teamed up to prepare the island at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo for spring 2012. It’s important to manage this habitat this far in advance because of some very special visitors we expect may return to the island around April of next year: black-crowned night herons.


Mike Davenport and Vicky Hunt pull the boat ashore.
October 27, 2011
Autumn Meadowhawks Arrive Fashionably Late

Autumn meadowhawks are appropriately named for their habit of being the last dragonflies seen moving through an area in fall. (Most dragonfly species are spotted during the warmer spring and summer months.)


Photo by Mason Fidino

We’ve been seeing lots of autumn meadowhawks flying at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo lately.

October 24, 2011
It's Raining Rubies!

Starting at the time of last week’s rain, dozens of ruby-crowned kinglets have graced us with their presence at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Ruby-crowned kinglets get their name from the ruby-red spot on top of the male’s head. As they flit about in the prairie grasses, these adorable, tiny birds add another splash of red color to the brilliant palette already on display in the boardwalk’s fall foliage.

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