Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo

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June 10, 2014
We’re in the Mood for Indigo

Tracking native plants as they bloom at different times from spring to fall is one of the best ways to enjoy Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. The blue false indigo now flowering makes this week an ideal time to start, but hurry—the blooms will only hold their color for another week or so.

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May 5, 2011
Warblers Galore

In the last few weeks, we’ve observed an influx of all types of warblers at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Warblers are small insect-eating birds that, as the name implies, are also acclaimed vocalists. They have narrow, very pointy beaks, like tiny tweezers.

The warblers are passing through the site on their migratory route, which helps explain the sudden increase in abundance and diversity.

April 28, 2011
Brand New Butterfly

This little, rather nondescript insect was seen laboriously making its way along the path at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed to be a cabbage white butterfly, newly emerged from its chrysalis.

April 22, 2011
Swallows Swooping at Nature Boardwalk

As temperatures rise and flying insects become more abundant, insect-eating birds become more common as well. One such group of birds is swallows, and lately we’ve been seeing lots of them at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo.

A group of swallows is called a flight. This name is appropriate, as these birds are constantly in flight, never seeming to rest even for an instant.

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.

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