On the Boardwalk

Chicago IL

Gavin Van Horn and Liam Heneghan
Written By Gavin Van Horn and Liam Heneghan

Exploring Chicagoland nature by foot, artfully & thoughtfully. Interested? Let's walk.

Urban Wildlife Oasis

In 2008, the zoo constructed a “Nature Boardwalk,” deepening an already existing pond that lies just outside the entrance, planting native vegetation, and introducing aquatic organisms. There’s a walking path that loops around and away from the fourteen-acre area, which is a popular spot for strolling and snapping pictures, and, when the herons are nesting, getting splattered with night heron poo.

When night herons first arrived in Lincoln Park, they utilized the small island located at the south end of the South Pond within the Nature Boardwalk. As their numbers grew, the herons stopped using the island as a rookery in 2011, but the pond and the island continue to provide a “living laboratory” for visitors and an important refuge for diverse urban wildlife, such as turtles, fish, and migrating birds. Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute, explains the importance of the Boardwalk, and places in the city like it, to urban wildlife (see video).

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Herons, Liverworts, and Lilies

On the Boardwalk

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