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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February 14, 2011
Meltdown at Nature Boardwalk

Temperatures are above freezing! After a particularly cold, snowy patch, it seems the weather is finally warming up. Consequently, we’re already seeing changes at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. The ice is breaking up and melting. This morning, mallard ducks gathered around a newly enlarged patch of open water at Nature Boardwalk.

February 11, 2011
Crows in Snow

Not too many birds are out and about at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, which is hardly surprising considering the frigid weather we’ve been having lately. However, it seems that no matter what the conditions are, American crows are predictable, tried-and-true Nature Boardwalk patrons.

American crows are year-round residents in Illinois, so it’s expected to observe these birds here throughout the winter. At Nature Boardwalk, lately these birds have been congregating around the pond’s patches of open water. These patches are kept from freezing by aerators below.

February 4, 2011
Blizzard at the Boardwalk

If you live in the Chicagoland area, it will come as no surprise that Nature Boardwalk is currently covered in a thick layer of powdery new snow. The blizzard we experienced dumped about 20 inches of snow on Chicago. To document the impact on the zoo’s new urban ecosystem, I first took a few photos at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, when the storm began ramping up.

December 8, 2010
Animal Tracks in Snow

Which animals have been running around in the snow at Nature Boardwalk? I took a walk around today (being extra careful now that it’s getting icy out there). Here are some of the tracks I found.

Rabbit tracks at Nature Boardwalk

Rabbit tracks look like Ys. The two smaller forefeet register behind the parallel, larger hindfeet. They often fall in a slightly staggered arrangement rather than being directly side-by-side.

December 1, 2010
Blue-Winged Teal Makes Stopover at Nature Boardwalk

Many of us travel this time of year for holidays, so it’s fitting that we recently had a migratory bird stopover at Nature Boardwalk. From November 9–16 we saw a female blue-winged teal (Anas discors) swimming around the pond with a flock of mallards.

Blue-winged teals are common dabbling ducks in North America, where they are second in abundance only to the familiar mallards we see all the time at Nature Boardwalk.

November 19, 2010
Nature Boardwalk Nightlife

When you think of Chicago nightlife, the many restaurants and clubs of downtown Chicago probably come to mind. However, the scientists in the zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute are interested in a different sort of nightlife. We study the wildlife that live in urban areas, and many of these animals are nocturnal, meaning that they are mostly active at night.

November 12, 2010
100 to 1

The other day, as I was tallying American crows at Nature Boardwalk (all the birds at Nature Boardwalk are counted each weekday) my count was suddenly and dramatically disrupted. The crows started frantically flying off in all directions, making quite a ruckus.

What was going on? At first, I had no idea what all the fuss was about. After a few minutes, the flock (also known as a “murder”) of approximately 100 crows settled back down on the patch of grass they had previously occupied, and I resumed my count.

November 5, 2010
Whose Footprints Are These?

Today I found these footprints at Nature Boardwalk under the Lester E. Fisher Bridge. Can you guess what animal left these tracks?

November 3, 2010
Soaring Sunflowers

Sawtooth sunflowers at Nature Boardwalk have grown over 5 feet tall in as many months! These plants started out as tiny plugs back in the spring, and now I’ve seen sawtooth sunflowers around the pond that are taller than me (5’4”)!

Some of the tallest of these plants were knocked over due to the high winds we’ve been having in these last few weeks. However, this sort of thing is natural.

October 28, 2010
What’s That?

Can you tell what this picture is of? And no, it isn’t robot armor or a Martian’s appendage, which is what it reminds me of… This is a photo of an ordinary sight that can be found on any given day at Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. The photo has just been zoomed in and cropped. Have a guess? Scroll down to see if you’re right.

That is the leg of a grasshopper.

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