Nature's Storytellers

A Blog About Nature in Our DuPage Forest Preserves

Early Spring Plant Arrivals

Just a few native woodland wildflowers emerge in March: Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica acutiloba) are among them.
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The "Magic School Bus" Rolls into DuPage Forest Preserves

on 3/4/19 2:59 PM By | Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 0 Comments | Insider Locations Nature
Science and social-studies teachers from across DuPage County joined the Forest Preserve District’s “Teacher-Institute Day: Magic School Bus Tour” on March 1, which was hosted by the Community Services & Education department. Teachers began their days at one of two education centers — Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center in Oak Brook or Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago — to not only tour the sites but also get an exclusive scoop about the variety of signature programs available to students from grades 1 through 8 at the Forest Preserve District.
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Group Thanks District for Program That Connects Youth to Nature

Students and educators from the School Association for Special Education in DuPage County thanked the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County for providing them with many fun outdoor adventures over the years through the District’s Special Needs Outdoor Education Day, held  at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville.
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Greene Farm Barn Provides Clues to Future Forestry

Scientists are hoping old-growth timber from the Greene Farm Barn and Graue Mill will help them determine how to help future trees withstand adversity in the form of fires, pest outbreaks and extreme weather conditions.
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Part 4: The Dining Room Oilcloth

on 1/3/19 1:53 PM By | Keith McClow | 0 Comments | Insider Locations
The oilcloth on the dining room floor at Kline Creek Farm's farmhouse museum could be easily overlooked. In fact, we planned it that way. It is meant to fit in as just one more part of the farmhouse, but it is really a handcrafted and very valuable work of art.
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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 | Insider Locations Natural resources Conservation Nature 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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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 | Insider Locations Natural resources Plants Conservation Nature
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 | Insider Locations Conservation Nature
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 | Insider Locations
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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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 | Insider Locations Wildlife Conservation Nature
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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