Chicago Academy of Sciences – Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Greater Prairie Chicken was once abundant in Illinois. Due to severe habitat loss, populations of the Prairie Chicken went from an estimated 10 million in the mid 1800s to less than 200 individuals today. This species does not migrate.
The Illinois Greenbrier (Smilax illinoensis) is a native perennial found throughout the Midwest/Great Lakes Region. In Illinois, it may be found in woodland areas. It reportedly has a faint carrion odor and attracts many types of insects, including moths and flies.
Field trips, like the one pictured here, were among the many ways the Chicago Academy of Sciences actively included the Chicago community in its scientific work and promoted the appreciation of nature.
The Ring-necked Pheasant is an introduced species found across the state of Illinois. Native to Asia, this species was first brought to Illinois around 1890 and is managed as a game bird.
Illinois is home to a fossil site called Mazon Creek, which contains plant and animal fossils, as well as hard and soft tissue preservation. Fossils from the Mazon Creek area are found in the Francis Creek Shale in the Braidwood – Coal City area of Illinois.
Herman Silas Pepoon (1860-1941) was a local naturalist with a particular focus on the plants of Illinois and the Midwest. He spent a considerable amount of time exploring Apple River Canyon, where he identified and collected over 500 species of plants. One of his most noteworthy discoveries in the canyon was Bird’s Eye Primrose (Primula mistassinica), a plant previously found only in more northerly locations.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences (now housed at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum) offers many outdoor opportunities, including classes like those conducted by Frank Woodruff (1867-1926). This image depicts Woodruff's bird identification class in Lincoln Park, possibly near the Chicago Academy of Sciences’ Laflin Building at Armitage and Clark.
Until the beginning of the twentieth century, animal specimens were traditionally preserved as study skins or as crudely stuffed mounts. Then, in the early 1910s, a man named Carl Akeley pioneered new specimen preparation techniques that enabled him to create more realistic displays. The Chicago Academy of Sciences also began to experiment with these ideas and devised large, meticulously-detailed dioramas as a new way to represent local species and natural areas.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s scientific collections include several study skins of extinct Passenger Pigeons (Ectopistes migratorius). These four Passenger Pigeon specimens were collected between 1880-1890 in northern Illinois (Evanston and Waukegan).
A native herbaceous plant, the Barrelhead Blazing Star grows tall, with purple tubular blossoms that attract long-tongued bees and butterflies as well as rabbits and deer. Once much more abundant, this plant may still be found in northern Illinois.