Nature's Storytellers

A Blog About Nature in Our DuPage Forest Preserves

Feathered Friends Feel the Freeze: How to Help Birds Survive Winter

Although the ground is cold (and possibly covered in snow), winter doesn’t mean hibernation and hiding for all wild animals, especially for some of the more common creatures you’ll see this time of year: the birds. 
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Part 3: The Parlor Pump Organ

on 12/5/18 8:35 AM By | Keith McClow | 0 Comments | Insider Locations
Once we had the wood-burning stove in the works, our next project was to restore our pump organ at the 1880s farmhouse museum at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago. I knew it had major problems and I had money in the budget to restore it, but one day it stopped playing so it moved up higher on our priority list.
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Tracking the Origins of Invasive Zebra Mussels

on 11/29/18 9:09 AM By | Dan Grigas | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Locations Conservation Natural resources Invasive
Visiting a beautiful lake or pond surrounded by mixed woodlands or sprawling prairie is one of the most serene and relaxing things I can think of doing on any given day. Nothing beats hearing the hum and buzz of surrounding wildlife, feeling the gentle breeze on my face, and looking down upon the refreshing clear water. Wait, what? Pool-clear lake water? That’s not right. Healthy lakes and ponds typically have a slight greenish/brown hue to them, an indication they contain an ample amount of phytoplankton, the base of the food chain. Being too clear is often a sign that something is afoot in that aquatic ecosystem. 
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We're Thankful For Our Volunteers

on 11/16/18 11:39 AM By | Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 0 Comments | Volunteer
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County offers many of its popular events, programs and services with assistance from a dedicated corps of volunteers. These individuals not only help us deliver long-standing programs but also bring many new experiences to forest preserve visitors. They help to rehabilitate injured wild animals, cut and remove invasive brush, care for domestic animals, attend to chores and interpret our DuPage heritage, among many other things.
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Our Top 10 Things to Do to #OptOutside

Between the Thanksgiving dinner prep and the holiday shopping spree, get outdoors with your family and friends to experience the physical, emotional and spiritual rewards of spending time in nature. Today an ever-growing body of scientific research finds that nature is good for the body, mind and spirit. Nature makes us healthier, sharper and even happier, too! 
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Let's Talk Turkey: Fun Tidbits About This Popular Bird

For a lot of people, it’s turkey time. There are hand turkeys, turkey trots, turkey bowls and even tofu turkey with all the trimmings. If you hike through the woods at Herrick Lake, Blackwell, Danada or St. James Farm forest preserves, you just may see the real deal.
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The Plight of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

on 11/6/18 2:20 PM By | Andres Ortega | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Locations Conservation Natural resources Plants
I think it’s just human nature to run in the opposite direction when we see a big black-and-yellow insect flying our way. But when it comes to the rusty patched bumble bee, our reaction to this federally endangered species should lean more toward excitement and compassion.
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Part 2: The Kitchen Wood-Burning Stove

on 10/30/18 12:35 PM By | Keith McClow | 0 Comments | Nature Insider Locations Conservation
The first project we tackled was replacing the production kitchen wood-burning stove in our remodeling project at Kline Creek Farm’s 1880s farmhouse museum. 
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Fall Faves From the Field

on 10/25/18 8:10 AM By | Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 0 Comments | Locations Insider
Cooler temperatures, fewer bugs and amazing colors make this time of year perfect for outdoor outings. An informal survey of Forest Preserve District of DuPage County employees — those women and men who spend most of their workdays out in the preserves — revealed these especially scenic must-see sites.
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Saving the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid

Patience is a virtue, especially if you’re trying to save the federally threatened eastern prairie fringed orchid.
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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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