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A piping plover on Waukegan Beach in 2018. (Ethan Ellis / Flickr)

The three chicks hatched in mid-June and now local birding organizations have created a contest to give them names. Submissions are open through Wednesday.

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Waterfall Glen is one of the Chicago region’s natural wonders. (Robert Martinez / Flickr)

Openlands’ searchable guide to parks, preserves, prairies, woodlands and more is a great resource for nature lovers. 

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Millennium Park’s Great Lawn is dotted with social distance circles. (Chicago Mayor’s Office)

Millennium Park’s Great Lawn is open to visitors again, with painted-on circles in place to emphasize social distancing guidelines. 

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Northern Saw-whet owl. (James St. John / Flickr)

The northern saw-whet is a tiny owl with a big personality. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service staff caught this normally secretive owl performing a hilarious stare down.

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Garfield Park Conservatory is reopening its 10 acres of outdoor gardens in phases. (Courtesy of Garfield Park Conservatory)

Taking a phased approach, the conservatory is reopening its outdoor grounds to neighbors on July 1, members on July 8 and everyone else starting July 15.

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A monarch butterfly feeds on milkweed, which is the sole food source for monarch caterpillars. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Scores of Chicagoans have planted milkweed — the monarch’s host plant — in their yards and other green spaces, but how effective are those efforts? The Field Museum is recruiting citizen scientists to find out.

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Locust swarm. (Sarangib / Pixabay)

Forty million locusts are winding their way through Argentina and a massive dust cloud has crossed the Atlantic from the Sahara. What else could 2020 possibly have in store for us?

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General Iron's Lincoln Park facility. (WTTW News)

Over the objections of environmental activists, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday issued a construction permit to General Iron, allowing the company to move its metal-shredding operation from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side. 

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Grilling will be allowed again at Forest Preserves, as of July 9. (Pixabay)

The Forest Preserves of Cook County announced it will reopen Swallow Cliff Stairs, nature centers and bathrooms, plus allow grilling and lift restrictions on parking lots at popular sites — but not until after the Fourth of July.

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Design rendering of the Obama Presidential Center. (Courtesy of The Obama Foundation)

The ongoing federal review of plans to construct the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park hit a minor speed bump when the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office weighed in. What does it mean for the controversial project?

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“I have done a phenomenal job with it,” President Donald Trump says of his response to COVID-19 at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, June 20, 2020. (WTTW News via CNN)

He is optimistic about the development of vaccines and treatments to slow the spread of COVID-19 but describes the national response to the virus as a “disgrace.” We speak with Dr. Robert Murphy of Northwestern University.

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Regal fritillary butterfly. (Doug Taron)

Similar in size to the monarch, the regal fritillary is also a stunner in the looks department, but the native prairie butterfly has nearly disappeared from Illinois. To save this pollinator, we need to save the prairie.

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(Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)

The 150-year-old zoo is preparing to welcome its first visitors since the March coronavirus shutdown. Here’s what you need to know.

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Jeff Skrentny (WTTW News)

More than 200 species of birds have been identified at this small forest preserve, along with hundreds of other living things. We meet up with Jeff Skrentny and several dozen volunteers for a morning of pre-pandemic restoration work.

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In this Aug. 7, 2019, file photo, the queen bee (marked in green) and worker bees move around a hive at the Veterans Affairs in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo / Elise Amendola, File)

American honeybee colonies have bounced back after a bad year, the annual beekeeping survey finds.

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Black bear. (Jitze Couperus / Flickr)

Officials are telling people to keep their distance from the bear. People aren’t listening.