Stories by patty wetli

(Ana Krach / Pixabay)

Chicago’s Halloween Forecast: It’s Going To Be a Classic ‘Throw On a Coat Over Your Costume’ Kind of Night

The National Weather Service isn’t even trying to sugarcoat the forecast for Halloween. It’s all downhill from here.

River Park, Chicago. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Leaf Peeping is Hitting Its Peak. Here’s How to Take Advantage of Fall Color Season Close to Chicago

The fall foliage season got off to a slow start in the Chicago region but is making up for lost time. We’ve rounded up some resources to help you make the most of Mother Nature’s spectacular, but short-lived, autumnal display.

(Courtesy of the Field Museum)

In Move Away From Namesake’s History, Chicago Audubon Society Announces New Name: Chicago Bird Alliance

The Chicago organization is joined by chapters in Detroit and Wisconsin in dropping “Audubon” and adopting the more inclusive, collaborative “Alliance.”

Shedd Aquarium’s newest rockhopper penguin, hatched in June, took its first swim with the entire colony.

Baby Penguin Takes First Swim at the Shedd Aquarium. You Need to See the Video

Shedd Aquarium’s newest rockhopper penguin, hatched in June, just took its first swim with the entire colony and the results were mixed. 

Banana, a 4-year-old pygmy hippopotamus at Brookfield Zoo, takes a bite out of her Halloween treat. (Jim Schulz / CZS-Brookfield Zoo)

Hungry Hungry Hippo Enjoys Halloween Treats at Brookfield Zoo

Caretakers will pass out more pumpkins to animals during Brookfield's “Boo! at the Zoo” event Saturday and Sunday.

Pond at Sand Ridge Nature Center, a Cook County Forest Preserve in the Calumet region. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Cook County Forest Preserves’ Proposed 2024 Budget Builds on Successes Made Possible by Tax Levy

"For the first time in a long time, it is not the budget of an agency in a holding pattern, keeping long-term, pressing needs at bay," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. "For Fiscal Year 2024, we are moving forward."

From a distance, 1229 West Concord in Lincoln Yards looks like every other glass tower in Chicago. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Lincoln Yards’ New Glass Tower Has a Trick Up Its Facade. It’s Bird Friendly

Sterling Bay’s first completed structure at its $6 billion Lincoln Yards riverfront development was constructed with bird-friendly glass. The use of the material is one of several features intended to minimize the sorts of deadly bird collisions Chicago just witnessed in record numbers.

A team at the Field Museum processes birds killed in collisions with McCormick Place during a massive migratory wave Oct. 4-5, 2023. (Daryl Coldren / Field Museum)

Bird Carnage Continued Over Weekend in Chicago. Whatever Happened to City’s Bird-Friendly Ordinance?

While the full tally of dead will never be known, wildlife advocates are certain of one thing: The vast majority of bird losses in the past week were preventable.

Trail maps are available at the forest preserve district's various nature centers. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

DIY Paths Are Wreaking Eco Havoc in Cook County Forest Preserves, New ‘Stay on the Trails’ Campaign Aims to Curb Rogue Routes

When people veer off designated trails, they damage vegetation, compact soil, contribute to erosion and also create pathways for new invasive plant species.

Field Museum staff collected 1,000 dead birds Thursday from the grounds of McCormick Place. (Courtesy of Taylor Hains)

Birders’ Joy Turns to Shock as Massive Migratory Wave Leads to Mass Mortality Due to Collisions With Chicago Buildings

Chicago is one of the deadliest cities for migrating birds and Thursday’s “insane abundance of migratory action” led to “insane mortality,” birders said. The remedy is as simple as flipping off a light switch.

The cinderblock shell of an illegal building in Humboldt Park, obscuring the landmarked Receptory and Stable building, will be demolished. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Illegal Building in Humboldt Park Will Be Demolished, Museum Leader Apologizes for ‘Missteps’

Tensions remain as the fight over the building has been seen by some as a symbol of the struggle to maintain Humboldt Park’s longstanding Puerto Rican heritage in the face of gentrification.

The Damen Silos, former grain elevators. (WTTW News)

Damen Silos Demolition Permit Application ‘Deferred’ Pending Further Review, Mayor Johnson Announces

More than a year after the State of Illinois sold off the abandoned 23-acre Damen Silos property to MAT Limited Partnership, the fate of the silos — a favorite of urban explorers — is still up in the air.

(Linus Schutz / Pixabay)

October in Chicago Is Off to a Scorching Start After a Hotter Than Normal September

But fear not lovers of all things fall, more seasonal weather is on the way.

A black-crowned night heron, in its signature hunched stance, with long white streamers just visible. (Dulcey Lima / Unsplash)

Endangered Black-Crowned Night Herons Are Thriving in Chicago. Researchers Want to Know Why

The more scientists can learn about the Chicago colony of black-crowned night herons, the more they can help these birds help themselves. Because night herons are hanging on in Illinois by a thread.

Spotted lanternfly adult (left) and nymphs. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Spotted Lanternfly Isn’t an Eco Disaster But It Does Have a Major ‘Yuck’ Factor. Here’s How Chicago Can Defend Itself

The first sighting of the invasive pest was confirmed in Chicago, but we’re years from a major infestation and have learned from cities like Pittsburgh how to minimize the nuisance, an expert said.

Adult spotted lanternfly. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Get Ready to Stomp and Squash: Illinois’ First Infestation of Dreaded Spotted Lanternfly Confirmed in Chicago

The insect was found in the Fuller Park neighborhood of Chicago, according to a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Neighbors, preservationists and park advocates are calling for the demolition of an unauthorized annex to the landmarked Receptory Building and Stable in Humboldt Park. The building is leased by the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, which began construction of an adjacent archive facility without permits. (Top photo: Patty Wetli / WTTW News; Bottom photo:

Illegal Building Still Standing in Humboldt Park. Community Meeting Scheduled To Discuss Its Future

More than a year after the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture began construction on a non-permitted facility in historic Humboldt Park, a community meeting has been scheduled to discuss the project's status and explore future possibilities for the structure.

(Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Are You Ready for ‘Chicagohenge’? Fall Equinox Creates Amazing Sunrise, Sunset Effect

During the fall and spring equinoxes, the sun rises due east and sets due west, creating an effect dubbed “Chicagohenge.”

Spring Lake Forest Preserve, Cook County. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Did You Forget To Make Plans for National Public Lands Day This Weekend? We’ve Got You Covered

Created back in 1994, the day is meant to celebrate the connection between people and the green space in their community. 

American white pelicans make a twice yearly appearance in Will County during fall and spring migration. (Diane Renkin / National Park Service)

The Pelicans Have Landed. Here’s Where to See Them Near Chicago

The Forest Preserve District of Will County is celebrating the birds’ fall arrival during Saturday’s Pelican Watch event at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon.

(Credit: City of Chicago)

Chicago’s Looking for Its Next Official Millennium Park Christmas Tree. Think You’ve Got What It Takes?

The selected tree will serve as the centerpiece of Chicago’s official holiday celebrations in Millennium Park. Here’s how to submit yours for consideration.

Michael Davidson has been named president and CEO of the conservation organization Openlands. (Courtesy of Openlands)

Openlands Announces Michael Davidson as CEO, First New Leader at the Conservation Organization in 35 Years

The last time the conservation organization experienced a changing of the leadership guard, the year was 1988, Ronald Reagan was president, Mike Tyson was heavyweight champ, and floppy disks were still a thing.

A colony of ants formed their own life raft, seen in Hickory Creek Preserve in Will County. (Courtesy of Meagan Crandall)

After Recent Rains Flooded Ant Colonies, They Formed Their Own Life Rafts

If their nests become waterlogged, ants will evacuate and form a waterproof ball that floats on the surface until the waters recede.

Kinda, Brookfield Zoo’s new baby giraffe, with mom Arnieta. (Jim Schulz / CZS-Brookfield Zoo)

Brookfield Zoo Has More Big News to Celebrate: A Record-Setting $40M Donation

Brookfield Zoo has received a historic $40 million gift from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, the largest single private contribution in the zoo's 89-year history, officials announced Tuesday.

Federal Emergency Management Agency had just opened a Disaster Recovery Center in Calumet City Sept. 14 to assist people with claims from flooding that happened in July. (Facebook / City of Calumet City)

Nearly a Foot of Rain Devastates Calumet City With Second Flash Flood This Year: ‘All My Stuff Is Gone’

Residents of Calumet City are recovering from a second round of flooding in less than three months after more than half a foot of rain fell on the area Sunday.