Chicago Ecological Services Field Office

Midwest Region


Map of Chicago Field Office counties of responsibility.






Ecological Services

We work with public and private entities to conserve and restore Chicago metro area endangered species, migratory birds, wetlands, and other important fish and wildlife resources.



For questions about CITES permits, and importing wildlife and wildlife parts, please contact the USFWS Chicago Wildlife Inspection Program (847) 298-3250


“She is Fighting” Stops at Montrose Beach

Migaaza’s nesting partner Great Lakes piping plover Bimaajii on the beach in Florida.

Migaaza at Montrose beach May 2019

Photo courtesy of Terry Walsh


This first week in May, the habitat at Montrose Beach provided a resting and refueling stopover spot for an endangered Great Lakes piping plover female named Migaaza, or “she is fighting,” in the language of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Wildlife biologists for the Odawa named Migaaza last year when they found her on High Island in Lake Michigan and banded her with a unique combination of colored bands. 

The Little Traverse Bay Band has been working with us at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners on Great Lakes piping plover conservation for many years. As part of their efforts, they monitor High Island each summer for signs of nesting plovers. Last summer they found Migaaza with a male plover they named Bimaajii, or “one who moves about.” Keeping a close watch on the pair, the biologists discovered a nest in June. They placed an exclosure, or small cage, around the nest, allowing the birds to come and go but keeping predators like gulls and ravens at bay. The Band’s actions helped the birds’ chances of nesting success, and the pair hatched a chick. When researchers returned to band the chick it was named Ozaa giizis oons, or “little yellow sun.”

The unique pattern of color bands placed on the birds helps biologists on nesting and wintering grounds communicate with each other about the status of the plovers. Last November 6, when birder Cheri Hollis photographed a piping plover at Bunche Beach, near Fort Myers, Florida, a check of records revealed that Bimaajii had lived up to his name, traveling 1,300 miles to wintering grounds.

The Great Lakes piping plover population is small and critically imperiled, nesting on wide sandy beaches of the Great Lakes and nowhere else. Plovers like Migaaza and Bimaajii spend five to six months each winter resting and foraging on the beaches and intertidal flats of the Gulf Coast. In April they begin winging their way north to nesting beaches like High Island. Finding habitat to rest and forage along the route is crucial for their survival and their success in raising the next generation of piping plover chicks.  The Chicago Park District and all the volunteers who help maintain the habitat at Montrose are playing an important role in contributing to the rebound of the Great Lakes Piping Plover population. 


Piping Plover




Dragonfly Culture...A Continuing Education Species!

A volunteer uses a toothpick to hand-pollinate an eastern prairie fringed orchid.

After working with the Hine’s emerald dragonfly for almost 20 years, both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and University of South Dakota are finding out there is still much to learn!


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Hine's Emerald Dragonfly




Abbott Laboratories staff lend a hand to help the eastern prairie fringed orchid

A volunteer uses a toothpick to hand-pollinate an eastern prairie fringed orchid.

Abbott Laboratories is an American health care company with its headquarters in Lake Bluff, Illinois. One portion of its large campus includes 160 acres of undeveloped land.


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Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid




Know your community, know your birds: birding Chicago's forest preserves

Baltimore Oriole

You love to bird and so do we! At the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we look for opportunities to get people outside and learn about their natural world. Take a moment to learn about how Chicago is rallying around birds.


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Learn more about birding at Forest Preserves of Cook County and get involved today!



ESA consultation on road construction provides more protection for eastern prairie fringed orchid population

Eastern prairie fringed orchid

Since 2009, the Chicago Illinois Field Office has been working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to protect a population of the eastern prairie fringed orchid in northeastern Illinois. The orchid is listed under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species and is vulnerable to habitat degradation, such as from increased pollutants associated with dirty water running off roadways after storms.


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Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid


Establishing Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid on Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge


Eastern prairie fringed orchid

The Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge was established in 2012. As planned, it will be an urban refuge with noncontiguous properties of varying habitats such as tallgrass prairie patches, wetlands and oak savanna. Located in the northwestern region of the Chicago metropolitan area and southern part of the Milwaukee area.percent).


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Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid



2017 Illinois eastern prairie fringed orchid field season summary


Volunteer counting flowers on eastern prairie fringed orchid stem.

Illinois recorded 1,186 blooming eastern prairie fringed orchid plants from all populations in 2017. This number is down by 750 blooming plants from 2016 (n=1936), but the 2016 count was the highest recorded number of blooming plants since we started keeping records in 1991.


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Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid





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Last updated: May 6, 2019