Nature's Storytellers

A Blog About Nature in Our DuPage Forest Preserves

Scientists Search for Clues to Grassland Bird Habitats

More than a dozen ecologists from local conservation agencies toured the 1,800-acre Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville recently to explore and learn more about the high-quality grassland habitat that has been transformed into a birder’s paradise by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
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Restoring More of the Great Prairie

The 358-acre West Chicago Prairie Forest Preserve in West Chicago is one of northeastern Illinois’ premier natural areas, containing more than 600 species of native plants and animals.
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Unexpected Garden Delights

You expect to encounter native plants and wildlife when you visit DuPage forest preserves, but you don’t expect to find amazing gardens abloom in gorgeous flowers.
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Spring Woodland Wildflower Guide

Of all the seasonal blooms, spring wildflowers seem to capture our hearts and attention the most, likely because they’re the first we see after months of drab landscapes. Most grow in woodlands and for that reason are short-lived, or “ephemeral.” They must sprout, grow, flower, fruit and set seeds before the trees leaf out and block the sun. Some spring flowers are a memory by summer, but a few produce leaves that last into autumn. Below are a few you’ll see this season, so enjoy them while they last!
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Contain Your Love of Gardening

on 4/2/19 3:25 PM By | Dave Andrusyk | 0 Comments | Insider Plants Nature native plant
I know many folks who are interested in growing native plants but feel they can’t because they don’t have a yard or room in their yard to grow them. 
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Points to Ponder Before Raising Monarch Caterpillars

on 3/20/19 11:50 AM By | Andres Ortega | 0 Comments | Insider Plants Wildlife Conservation Nature native plant
Full disclosure: I’ve always liked insects. As a child I found them intensely interesting and spent hours just watching them walk, feed and fly. As an adult I came to realize their critical importance to our natural habitats (not to mention our food supply). 
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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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Sowing Seeds in the Snow

on 1/23/19 11:03 AM By | Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 0 Comments | Insider Plants Nature
For local gardeners, winter’s a time to take stock of what did well during the previous year and to look forward to the coming crop of plant catalogs in the mail. But in DuPage County, Forest Preserve District employees and volunteers are already seeding for spring. It’s a technique called “frost seeding,” and it uses the way many plants grow naturally to improve a variety of habitats.
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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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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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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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Get to Know Nature's Nasties

Ah, summer in DuPage County. Time to get reacquainted with the incredible array of plants and wildlife that call the forest preserves home. Sure, the thought of a few of them might make your skin itch or crawl, but learning what makes them do what they do — and what we can do to avoid them — can alleviate a lot of the uneasiness. So take a deep breath and read on!
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Butterflying in the Forest Preserves

Watching butterflies in DuPage forest preserves is a favorite summer pastime for some insect enthusiasts. But even the lesser experienced bug lover in you can find butterflying a rewarding hobby with some patience and a little know-how. If you don't know where to begin, our top 10 observation tips will get you started butterflying this summer in the preserves.
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Honey of a Plan Lands at Kline Creek Farm

A team of sixth graders from Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn visited Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago recently to spread its message about helping save bee populations as part of a class project.
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Musseling to Maintain Healthy Habitats

on 5/18/18 8:23 AM By | Scott Meister | 0 Comments | Insider Natural resources Plants Conservation Nature
Maintaining healthy habitats is important, otherwise we wouldn’t spend time and money doing so. Like an automobile or a house, in addition to simple maintenance, sometimes we need to make repairs. Improving the environment, or repairing a broken piece of nature’s web, also improves our own well-being, and is a reason why many biologists like myself entered this field.
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Avoid Introducing Invasive Plants to Your Landscape

on 5/14/18 12:25 PM By | Forest Preserve District of DuPage County | 0 Comments | Insider Plants Conservation
Many nurseries and garden centers unknowingly sell invasive landscape plants to unsuspecting consumers. These invasives can escape from your yard and wreak havoc on natural areas and the native wildlife using them as habitat.  
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Let's Go Native

We all have different sources of inspiration. Sometimes you just have to like something a little before you’ll try it. Other times you have to kick the tires and thoroughly research the matter before you dive in. So it is with gardening. 
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Artists Share Inspiration for 'The Art of Pollinators' Work

Inspiration comes from many places. We asked some of the artists in “The Art of Pollinators” exhibit to share the inspiration for their artwork with us to shed more light on what's behind their artwork. Here are their stories. "The Art of Pollinators" exhibit features nearly 100 artworks inspired by native pollinators. A collaborative effort between the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and DuPage Monarch Project, the exhibit runs May 2 – June 1 at Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St. in Oak Brook. Exhibit hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. An opening meet-the-artists reception is slated for May 7 from 6 to 8 p.m.
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The Tangled Relationships in a Garden

The relationship between milkweed and monarchs is well known and well documented. Monarch butterflies feed on the nectar in milkweed flowers, collecting pollen before transferring that pollen to another plant. Female monarchs also lay their eggs one at a time on the leaves of milkweed plants. When the eggs hatch, the larva are dependent on the milkweed for food.
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Solutions to Common Garden Challenges

Gardening with native plants has many rewards, but it can also pose some challenges. The beautiful flowers may attract pollinators, but they may also attract unwanted critters, like rabbits that eat your phlox or squirrels that dig up your bluebells.
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