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These Birds LOVE The Chicago River — And The Fish That Swim In It

By Justin Breen | October 6, 2016 8:03am | Updated on October 7, 2016 10:32am
 An adult osprey and its chicks at the Chicago River.
An adult osprey and its chicks at the Chicago River.
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Flickr Creative Commons

DOWNTOWN — The Chicago River's rebirth has been good for fish — and the birds that eat them.

Friends of the Chicago River executive director Margaret Frisbie provided DNAinfo with a list of more than 60 birds that can be found floating on or standing near the Chicago River. The list includes several bird species that eat fish like bald eagles, osprey, egrets and herons.

"Clearly there are more birds that live here and pass through," Frisbie said. "Fish-eating birds indicate the health of the river — there are lots of fish and birds to eat them."

One of the fish-eating birds is the Black Crowned Night Heron, which is endangered in Illinois, but can almost always be found at the Chicago River at the River Park's small waterfall.

RELATED: Comprehensive coverage of Chicago's birds

Frisbie said her group is trying to attract more ospreys by building nesting platforms for them in forest preserves around the city.

Fifty-eight fish species, including 28 game fish species and 45 native species, have been collected by officials during the 2000s. The dozens of species in the river now is a huge jump from the five to seven that were found in the 1970s.

Here's the list of birds that can be found in the Chicago River (fish-eating species are in bold):

American Black Duck
American Coot
American Wigeon
Bald Eagle
Baltimore Oriole
Barn Swallow
Barred Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Black Crowned Night Heron
Black Tern
Blue-Winged Real
Canada Goose
Caspian Tern
Cedar Waxwing
Cliff Swallow
Common Golden Eye
Common Loon
Common Merganser
Common Moorhen
Common Snipe
Double Crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret

Greater Scaup
Greater White Fronted Goose
Greater Yellowlegs
Green Heron
Hooded Merganser
Least Bittern
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Yellowlegs
Marsh Wren
Mute Swan
Northern Pintail
Northern Shoveler
Northern Waterthrush
Palm Warbler
Pied-billed Grebe
Prothonotary Warbler
Red-breasted Merganser
Redheaded woodpecker
Red-winged Blackbird
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Duck
Sedge Wren
Semi-Palmated Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Sora Rail
Spotted Sandpiper
Swamp Sparrow
Tree Swallow
Virginia Rail
Warbling Vireo
White-rumped Sandpiper
Wood Duck

A Great Blue Heron fishing for a meal on the Chicago River. [Flickr Creative Commons]

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