Squirrel perched on fence

NPS photo

The diverstiy and abundance of fauna at Lincoln Home National Historic Site has undergone dramatic changes since pre-settlement times. The elk (Cervus elaphus), bison (Bison bison), and black bear (Ursus americana), that roamed the prairies and grasslands of central Illinois, have experienced severe population changes.

In the early 1800s, pioneers developed the land into farms and the settlers introduced domesticated livestock to the area. As livestock grazed the grasslands, they changed the face of the tallgrass prairie. The pioneers hunted many of the wild game species such as: Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and Greater Prairie Chicken(Tympanuchus cupido), which was often found on the dinner table of local residents and at the Lincoln Home.

Today most visitors are likely to see Eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus), cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), and an occasional red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)on site. Many species such as red bats (Lasiurus borealis), Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), and fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), have easily adapted to a changing habitat.

Many invasive species have also made their way into the area. European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to name one, are a common sight. The various forms of wildlife at Lincoln Home National Historic Site find suitable habitat in the shrubs and trees of the Lincoln Home neighborhood. Every now and then, a Virginia oppossum (Didelphis virginiana) is found under a porch or in a storage building.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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