100 Years of Chicago Birds

To see how urbanization has affected Lincoln Park’s birds, zoo scientists are doing daily counts to compare today’s species with those surveyed more than 100 years ago.

Comparing Lincoln Park's Bird Species Across a Century

To see how urbanization has affected Lincoln Park’s birds, zoo scientists are doing daily counts to compare today’s species with those surveyed more than 100 years ago.

Bird surveys a century apart in Lincoln Park can shed light on the impact of urbanization.

The Researchers’ Daily Route

Zoo biologists Mason Fidino and Kelvin Limbrick follow the same route through the park each day, stopping at predetermined intervals to record the songs, calls and feathered forms around them. Each day’s haul is approximately 4.5 miles.

What's Been Spotted So Far in 2013?

Past-Only Sightings (1898–1903)

American bittern • bobolink • Bonaparte's gull • cerulean warbler • common loon • common nighthawk • common tern •  dickcissel • green-winged teal • Henslow's sparrow • least bittern • loggerhead shrike • long-tailed duck • northern harrier • northern pintail • purple finch • purple martin • rusty blackbird • semipalmated sandpiper • solitary sandpiper • summer tanager • whip-poor-will • yellow-headed blackbird

Past and Present Sightings (Seen During Historic Bird Counts and 2013)

American cootAmerican crowAmerican goldfinch • American kestrel • American redstart • American robin • American tree sparrow • American woodcock • Baltimore oriole • barn swallow • bay-breasted warbler • belted kingfisher • black-and-white warbler • black-billed cuckoo • blackburnian warbler • black-capped chickadee • blackpoll warbler • black-throated blue warbler • black-throated green warbler • blue-gray gnatcatcher • blue-headed vireo • blue jay • blue-winged teal •  brown creeper • brown thrasher • brown-headed cowbird • bufflehead • Canada goose • Canada warbler •Cape May warbler • cedar waxwing • chestnut-sided warbler • chimney swift • chipping sparrow • clay-colored sparrow • common goldeneye • common grackle • common merganser • common yellowthroat • Connecticut warbler • dark-eyed junco • downy woodpecker • eastern bluebird • eastern kingbird • eastern meadowlark • eastern phoebe • eastern towhee • eastern wood pewee • field sparrow • fox sparrow • golden-crowned kinglet • golden-winged warbler • gray catbird • gray-cheeked thrush • great crested flycatcher • green heron • hairy woodpecker • hermit thrush • herring gull • hooded merganser • hooded warbler • horned grebe • house sparrow • house wren • indigo bunting • killdeer • least flycatcher • lesser scaup • Lincoln's sparrow • Louisiana waterthrush • magnolia warblermallard • marsh wren • mourning dove • mourning warbler • Nashville warbler • northern cardinal • northern flicker • northern mockingbird • northern parula • northern waterthrush • orchard oriole • ovenbird • palm warblerpied-billed grebe • pine warbler • prothonotary warbler • red-bellied woodpecker • red-eyed vireo • red-headed woodpecker • red-breasted merganser • red-breasted nuthatch • red-winged blackbirdredheadring-billed gull • rose-breasted grosbeak • ruby-crowned kinglet • ruby-throated hummingbird • savannah sparrow • scarlet tanagersong sparrowsora • spotted sandpiper • Swainson's thrush • swamp sparrow • Tennessee warbler • tree swallow • veery • vesper sparrow • warbling vireo • white-breasted nuthatch • white-crowned sparrow • white-throated sparrow • Wilson's warbler • winter wren • wood duck • wood thrush • yellow-bellied flycatcher • yellow-bellied sapsucker • yellow-billed cuckoo • yellow-breasted chat • yellow-rumped warbler • yellow-throated vireo • yellow warbler

Present-Only Sightings (2013)
Acadian flycatcher • alder flycatcher • bank swallow • black-crowned night heron • Brewer's blackbird • Caspian tern • Cooper’s hawkdouble-crested cormorant • European starling • greylag • house finch • Le Conte's sparrow • merlin • northern rough-winged swallow • northern shoveler • olive-sided flycatcher • orange-crowned warbler • peregrine falcon • Philadelphia vireo • pine siskin • rock dove • willet

Links share photos on the zoo's Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo blog

Today's Sightings (Updated Monday–Friday)



Modern Name Family
Cooper's hawk Accipitridae
Wood duck Anatidae
Canada goose Anatidae
Mallard Anatidae
Chimney swift Apodidae
Green heron Ardeidae
Black-crowned night heron Ardeidae
Cedar waxwing Bombycillidae
Scarlet tanager Cardinalidae
Indigo bunting Cardinalidae
Northern cardinal Cardinalidae
Rock pigeon Columbidae
Mourning dove Columbiformes
Blue jay Corvidae
American crow Corvidae
Yellow-billed cuckoo CUCULIDAE
White-crowned sparrow Emberizidae
Lincoln's sparrow Emberizidae
Song sparrow Emberizidae
Clay-colored sparrow Emberizidae
Eastern towhee Emberizidae
American goldfinch Fringillidae
Pine siskin Fringillidae
House finch Fringillidae
Northern rough-winged swallow Hirundinidae
Barn swallow Hirundinidae
Baltimore oriole Icteridae
Common grackle Icteridae
Red-winged blackbird Icteridae
Ring-billed gull Laridae
Caspian tern Laridae
Herring gull Laridae
Gray catbird Mimidae
Brown thrasher Mimidae
Northern waterthrush Parulidae
Palm warbler Parulidae
Pine warbler Parulidae
Black-and-white warbler Parulidae
Black-throated green warbler Parulidae
Magnolia warbler Parulidae
Yellow-rumped warbler Parulidae
Wilson's warbler Parulidae
Blue-winged warbler Parulidae
Common yellowthroat Parulidae
Blackburnian warbler Parulidae
American redstart Parulidae
Connecticut warbler Parulidae
Ovenbird Parulidae
Mourning warbler Parulidae
Chestnut-sided warbler Parulidae
Blackpoll warbler Parulidae
Canada warbler Parulidae
Yellow warbler Parulidae
House sparrow Passeridae
Downy woodpecker Picidae
Northern flicker Picidae
Blue-gray gnatcatcher Polioptilidae
Virginia rail Rallidae
European starling Sturnidae
American robin Turdidae
Swainson's thrush Turdidae
Gray-cheeked thrush Turdidae
Eastern wood pewee Tyrannidae
Great crested flycatcher Tyrannidae
Willow flycatcher Tyrannidae
Alder flycatcher Tyrannidae
Acadian flycatcher Tyrannidae
Least flycatcher Tyrannidae
Yellow-bellied flycatcher Tyrannidae
Eastern kingbird Tyrannidae
Warbling vireo Vireonidae

Updated 5/21/13

Comparisons Across a Century

Learn More About the Project

Bird surveys a century apart in Lincoln Park can shed light on the impact of urbanization.

Surveying Lincoln Park's Bird Species 
By comparing bird surveys in Lincoln Park to results from a century ago, Urban Wildlife Institute scientists can shed light on the impact of urbanization. 

  Follow the Urban Wildlife Institute on Twitter



Hi! We are trying to figure out what is the name of the large birds that have nested high in the trees on the "alley" south of the duck pond. We think they look like big flying beige and gray penguins. Do you know what these birds are?

It sounds like you're referring to black-crowned night herons. They're endangered in Illinois, so we're thrilled to have them in the area around Nature Boardwalk. You can learn more about them in this blog post from Mason!

Excellent idea comparing century old counts with todays data. Please write more when you have a better idea of how things compare.

These are some beautiful pictures on this post and thank you for identifying the palm warbler - I saw several on the ground when I came to see the black crowned night herons but did not know what they were.

Keep up the good work, work Kevin and Mason!

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