Wildlife Monitors

I'd like to volunteer as a Wildlife Monitor...

One of Friends’ fundamental goals is to help restore wildlife habitat in and along the Chicago River. Friends mission is to improve and protect the Chicago River system for people, plants, and animals. Our wildlife habitat projects strive to help all animals, but also target certain species that are at risk due to habitat degradation and lack of available habitat.

Working with scientists from the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Friends identified bats, osprey, and turtles as river-dependent species present in the river system whose reproductive success could benefit from our help. As of 2020, Friends has installed  six maternity colony structures for bats, five osprey nesting platforms, and cleared 130+ acres of nesting habitat for turtles. We welcome you to learn more about Friends' wildlife habitat initiatives and to volunteer to help.

To learn more about bats, turtles, and osprey (and many others) in the Chicago River watershed, visit our pages on ecology and wildlife.

Wildlife Monitoring

To support our wildlife projects and evaluate their success, Friends established a volunteer monitoring program for our habitat initiatives. If you would like to become a wildlife monitor, sign up today to become a Chicago River Eco-Warrior and stay tuned for updates.

Become a Wildlife Monitor

Trainings will provide all of the necessary information and expectations for interested volunteers to monitor these animals and their habitats.

The best part is that no experience is needed. Groups and families are encouraged. Children under 18 must monitor with an adult.

We are asking volunteers to commit to at least one habitat location and be able to monitor at least twice per month during the breeding season (May to August). Habitats are located to the north (Glencoe, Winnetka, Northfield, and Morton Grove) and south (Midlothian, Riverdale, Thornton and Chicago Heights).

We are especially interested in volunteers willing to monitor the southern sites listed above.

Upcoming Trainings for Volunteer Wildlife Monitors:

Saturday, March 11, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Location TBD

Saturday, March 18, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Location TBD

Training sessions will take place in person. Pre-registration is required. Please register for only one session.
Both sessions cover the same information. To register, please email Mark Hauser at mhauser@chicagoriver.org

Wildlife Monitor Data Sheets

If you are a current Wildlife Monitor, please use the following data sheets to submit your observations:
(These are fillable forms - download them to your device, complete them, save them and email them to Friends at wildlife@chicagoriver.org)

Bats
Digital Form (preferred method)
Bat Monitoring Data Sheet (back-up)
Osprey
Digital Form (preferred method)
Osprey Monitoring Data Sheet (back-up)
Turtles
Turtle Monitoring Data Sheet