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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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.

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.

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