Nature's Storytellers

A Blog About Nature in Our DuPage Forest Preserves

Busy Beavers Prepare for Winter

Late fall means slowing down for many species (including people), but beavers are busy repairing their lodges and dams and poking branches and saplings into mud where the woody material, which is their winter food cache, stays fresh, even under ice. They can cut down trees over a foot in diameter.
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An Ugly Little Stinker: The Stink Bug That Wants Inside

It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning. The daylight hours are waning. And, yes. Dozens — maybe even hundreds — of brown marmorated stink bugs are gathering in numbers at any little crack or opening near a doorway, window screen or garage door seeking entry into your home. These little insects are not only numerous but also ugly — and boy, do they ever stink!
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One-Year Checkup Shows Mussels Are Thriving

A one-year checkup on some of the 24,377 freshwater mussels released last fall into the West Branch DuPage River and two tributaries shows they are doing great and growing, according to Jessi DeMartini, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s aquatic research center coordinator.
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Remodeling an 1880s Farmhouse Museum

on 10/4/18 2:50 PM By | Keith McClow | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Wildlife Locations Conservation
As I listen to an ad on the radio telling me that my home is getting dingy and tired and could really use some sprucing up, I cannot help but think of the challenges of maintaining the farmhouse museum at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago.
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Duck Race Supports Habitat Restoration

Congratulations to Marianne Logsdon, the $500 cash prize winner who entered our rubber-duck race to support restoration at West Chicago Prairie Forest Preserve in West Chicago. Her prize-winning pintail crossed the finish line first in a duck race on September 22, 2018 at Spring Brook at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville. 
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Donations Fund St. James Farm Fountain Restoration

The granite and marble horse trough fountain at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville has been restored to its original beauty thanks to private donations made to the Friends of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
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Forest Fave: Willowbrook Butterfly Garden

When Willowbrook Wildlife Center site manager Sandy Fejt needs a break from caring for injured native wildlife at the center, she doesn’t have to look far. One of Sandy’s favorite spots at the Glen Ellyn forest preserve is the butterfly garden. She helped with the original design of the garden and loves to teach visitors the benefits of creating a garden out of native plants. Sandy plays a large part in the District’s mission to grow and maintain milkweed plants to provide habitat and food for the struggling monarch butterfly population. 
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Geese-Free, Thanks to a Border Collie Named Louie

It’s 5 a.m. at The Preserve at Oak Meadows — the Forest Preserve District’s signature golf course — and Louie the border collie is on patrol for nuisance geese. His head is lowered, shoulders and hips down, and tail hung low. He locks his eyes on a flock on the grass near Salt Creek. Step by slow, quiet step… he stalks and uses “the eye” to intimidate the geese.
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Small Mammals Busy Preparing for Colder Weather

While many small mammals and bats are putting on fat in fall to prepare for a long, cold winter hibernation, many are not. For the most part, our common small mammals -- the eastern chipmunk, white-footed mouse and meadow vole – remain active during the winter with periods of torpor — a short period of inactivity but not true hibernation. 
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Monarch Butterflies Start Long Migration

Late summer and early fall is a peak time for monarch activity as they prepare for the long migration south to the forests of central Mexico. It’s also a great time to view them as they feed on late blooming flowers like goldenrod and aster to fuel their long journey.
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Routine Physical for Willowbrook's Resident Bobcat

A routine annual physical is anything but when your patient is a 30-pound bobcat.
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Training With Willowbrook Wildlife

on 8/20/18 12:10 PM By | Krystle Piwowar | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Wildlife Take 5 Locations Recreation
For 62 years Willowbrook Wildlife Center has been known for rehabilitating native wildlife and providing education programs for people of all ages throughout DuPage County. 
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Lunch Break Loops

Late summer is a beautiful time in the preserves. But it can still be a struggle to find time to get to your favorite forest preserve, even though research shows that 20 minutes outdoors can reduce stress, improve your mood, enhance your memory and help you maintain a healthy weight. Fortunately, the Forest Preserve District offers lots of short trails that can help you get your daily dose of nature even during lunch!
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Ranger Helps an Entangled Turtle

Forest Preserve District Ranger Austen Doherty answered the call when a visitor at Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve reported an injured turtle along the Salt Creek shoreline.
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Protecting the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

on 8/6/18 11:11 AM By | Tom Velat | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Wildlife Locations Conservation Natural resources
Working on the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly Project over the past several years has been a fascinating experience for me.
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Bright Flashes of Orange in Local Trees

Despite their bright orange plumage, Baltimore orioles may not be easy to spot. These relatives of yellow-headed and red-wing blackbirds prefer high branches in densely wooded areas over open space like prairies. They tend to stay hidden, so you’re more likely to hear these birds than see them. They have a very rich, operatic, liquid-sounding whistling song, according to Abby Dean, a naturalist at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center in Oak Brook. "It really stands out," she said.
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Fireflies are a Summer Delight

on 7/16/18 11:09 AM By | Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Wildlife Take 5
The twilight twinkles of fireflies, or lightning bugs, is one of the sure signs of summer. Most of us have fond memories of spending warm summer nights chasing them. Fireflies are fascinating creatures, but they’re not really flies – they’re beetles. The Lampyridae are a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous use of bioluminescence during twilight to attract mates.
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Kline Creek Farm Helps Save Heritage Milking Shorthorn Cattle

on 7/9/18 10:07 AM By | Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 0 Comments | Insider
In the 19th century, the Milking Shorthorn cow was one of the most popular and common breeds in the United States. Today, it is a rare and endangered breed, with just 245 registered Heritage Milking Shorthorns in the U.S. And now Kline Creek Farm has one of them.
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Helping the Hine's Emerald Dragonfly

on 7/3/18 9:07 AM By | Andres Ortega | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Wildlife Conservation Natural resources
Being a parent is one of the most difficult — but most rewarding — jobs I have ever had.  You watch your children grow from someone in need of constant attention and care until, all too sudden, they become independent, self-sufficient young adults. While neither of my children have reached that final stage where they “fly the coop,” I can sense it in the not too distant future. For me, raising the federally endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly at the District’s Urban Stream Research Center — while obviously different — also has many parallels to parenthood.
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Beyond the Riding Lesson at Danada

Animal lovers, curiosity seekers, horse enthusiasts and those visitors in-between can get up close to our horse herd at “Horsin Around” on July 21 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton. This unique experience — one of many one-day programs at the center throughout the year — not only offers an opportunity to interact with the horses but also learn about general breeds, colors and care. We’ll even explore topics in horse health, grooming and pasture turnout versus stall boarding. 
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