Summer 2019 Conservationist

Destination: Discovery

Willowbrook Readies for Moving Day

great horned owl

It doesn’t matter if you’re a person or peregrine falcon: Moving will stress you out. That’s why Willowbrook Wildlife Center is working this summer to make things as comfy as possible for its animal ambassadors while they wait for their new digs.

The center’s special group of owls and other birds of prey that visit classrooms and greet visitors throughout the year are getting a new home boasting 12 dorm rooms and a weathering area for stimulating outdoor experiences. The dorms will house a variety of raptors, pairs and sizes; one will even have a small concrete pond.

As the center waits for construction to begin, staff is setting up temporary housing along the outdoor exhibit trail. Depending on the bird’s species and disability, each cage will be custom-furnished with the right perches, platforms, houses, ramps, hides and hammocks. These center celebrities will feel right at home with high spots for perching and spaces to snooze (or keep out of sight!)


Revamped Picnic Pavilion Planned for St. James Farm

St. James Farm pavilion

St. James Farm has undergone a lot of changes since the Forest Preserve District officially took possession of the property in 2007. Now, as part of continuing efforts to support the site’s master plan, the District has accepted an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development grant to help refurbish the preserve’s popular pavilion.

The pavilion was built in 1985 by the farm’s former owner, Brooks McCormick, as a concession area for equestrian events. In fact, the pattern of paver blocks were set to replicate a horse’s hoofprints. The pavilion was also home to the formal dinner that welcomed owners, trainers and jockeys on the night before the farm’s annual steeplechase event.

When completed, the renovated pavilion will have a new roof as well as a patio and grill, covered breezeway, accessible paths, plantings, and an elevated area for lawn games with benches and an overlook over the pond to the west.


Danada Guided Tours

horse inside a stall in the barn at Danada Equestrian Center

If you visit the herd at the Danada Equestrian Center, you’ll likely pass the landmark Kentucky-style barn. You may even walk a loop or two around the stall-lined aisles inside. But if you and a few friends want to discover more about the building and the horses it houses, call to sign up for a private one-hour guided walking tour.

The tours are popular with families, Scouts, schools and any group wantng insight into the world of horses. There’s no riding, but you’ll get an exclusive look at what they eat, how they sleep, why they behave in certain ways, and how the center keeps them healthy and groomed. For availability and fees call the center at 630-668-6012.


Mayslake Library: Reading and Learning Room

Library at Mayslake Peabody Estate

In the early 1900s when Francis Stuyvesant Peabody started planning his Tudor Revival-style mansion (today’s Mayslake Hall), a large library was a must. Yes, the Peabodys were avid book lovers, but more importantly, private libraries in country homes were in vogue. In addition to storing books, they were de-facto living rooms, where guests could mingle, relax with a good read, or view the homeowners’ collections of curiosities. (With four guest rooms, each with a large closet and en suite bathroom, Mayslake Hall was built for guests.)

In 2018 thanks to a private donation, the Forest Preserve District was able to restore the library shelves and add period chandeliers. It then began filling the shelves thanks to a tremendous response to its request for books from 1922 and earlier.

Now, in the spirit of the 1920s library-as-lively-living-space, the library at Mayslake Hall is welcoming visitors Wednesday – Friday noon – 3 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. –
1 p.m. Within this inviting room you can relax with a good book, visit with friends, play the piano or engage in a variety of hands-on experiences. We hope you’ll come by often to mingle, relax and explore — but most of all to feel at home.


Relax: You're at Fullersburg

woman sitting in Adirondack chair on the deck at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center and the surrounding forest preserve are popular destinations for school groups and trail fans, but what many don’t know is that for those looking for place to unwind, the visitor center is a hidden oasis.

Built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, the onetime boathouse is surrounded on two sides by a wide shady deck. There, inviting Adirondack chairs and tables scattered under the oak canopy become whatever their users require. For some, they’re impromptu cafe seats where you can bring a cup of coffee and sip away while watching mallards float by. For others, they’re comfortable perches for watching birds or the perfect spot for dinner and board games al fresco.


Endangered Cattle at Home at Kline Creek

Heritage Shorthorn cow and calf at Kline Creek Farm

Most people are aware of endangered wildlife, but few know that some historical livestock breeds are also threatened with extinction.

In the 1800s Heritage Shorthorns were the country’s most popular breed of cattle. Farmers liked them because they could raise them for dairy or beef. But Shorthorns couldn’t compete with the quantity of milk produced by modern-day Holsteins, and the breed lost favor. Today only 245 are registered in the U.S.

To support the Forest Preserve District’s mission of conservation and Kline Creek Farm’s mission of presenting 1890s agriculture, the farm is building a herd of Heritage Shorthorns. Last year it acquired a cow and bull, and it will use the cow’s heifer calf for future breeding.

The Shorthorns will play a key role in day-to-day activities at the farm that highlight the importance of livestock to DuPage farmers. Each day is different, so visit often!