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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April 18, 2011
Kings of the Boardwalk

“Royalty” has been gracing us with its presence at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo of late. Here’s what to look for to spot kingfishers and kinglets:

Belted Kingfisher: In many bird species, the males are more colorful than the females. Some species, such as red-winged blackbirds or wood ducks, take the difference to extremes. However, belted kingfishers buck the trend; females are more colorful than males!

April 11, 2011
Creepers Creeping at Nature Boardwalk

Brown creepers are small birds with long tails that creep up tree trunks when foraging. We’ve been seeing these birds at Nature Boardwalk the last few days, scaling some of the larger trees at the site, spiraling upward.

When they do this, they are looking in the crevices and under the bark for any insects or larva they might be able to pry out and eat.

April 6, 2011
Black-Crowned Night Herons Are Back

These four black-crowned night herons represent our first sighting of the species this season at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Pictured in trees on the island on March 30, they’re most likely the birds that completed their migration fastest, the trailblazers.

Last year, Nature Boardwalk’s black-crowned night heron breeding colony contained more than 200 adults at the peak of breeding season.

March 28, 2011
Eastern Phoebe (aka Tail-Wagging Hovercrafts)

If you know what to look for, it’s hard to mistake an eastern phoebe for anything else. First, phoebes say their name in their call! Second, the bird isn’t shy, often sitting on fence posts or tall prairie plant stems at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, wagging its tail up and down.

Beyond that, the eastern phoebe is one of several amazing birds that hover in flight when foraging.

March 25, 2011
Even with the Cold, Spring Is Indeed Here

Old man winter ignored the recent vernal equinox and dusted Nature Boardwalk with some snow last night. Regardless, some native plants have begun actively growing above ground, dotting the landscape with green.

Rattlesnake-master (Eryngium yuccifolium) has leathery leaves edged with spines (seen above in last year’s dried foliage).

March 21, 2011
Bang the Drum

Northern flickers make a racket this time of year, both with their loud rattling calls and with their boisterous drumming. You’re likely to hear this woodpecker before you see it. That was the case for me today at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.

I was walking around the boardwalk, tracking turtles and counting birds, as usual, when suddenly I heard this loud hammering noise above me.

March 17, 2011
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.

March 9, 2011
Getting Ready for Spring

With high temperatures in the upper 40s this week, it’s finally starting to feel like spring is just around the corner. (I know I’m getting ready to pack up my winter clothes any day now!)

What are the birds at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo doing in anticipation of springtime?

1. The Canada geese are making a lot of noise lately! They’re honking and chasing one another around, heads down. This behavior is territorial.

March 4, 2011
Return of the Wood Ducks!

A female wood duck (circled) showed up at Nature Boardwalk today. She was hanging out with a large congregation of Canada geese and mallards near the island in the center of the pond. This is the first wood duck I’ve seen at Nature Boardwalk in 2011. We’re located in the breeding range for wood ducks, so this is a sign that spring is nearly here!

I’ll be watching to see if other wood ducks join her in the coming days.

February 18, 2011
First Thaw

Glorious spring-like temperatures have melted most of the snow here at Lincoln Park Zoo over the past week. Some of the plants in warmer areas of the zoo are now breaking their winter dormancy.

Daffodils (Narcissus spp.) are pushing foliage out of the hard ground around the Kovler Sea Lion Pool.

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