Nature's Book Nook For Kids:

Bear Snores On
Karma Wilson & Sara Chapman

Beloved book of Bear's continuing sleep while the animals have a party in his cozy den.

For ages 4-8, pre-2:

The Far-Flung Adventures of Homer the Hummer
Cynthia Furlong Reynolds
illus. Catherine McClung

Following the adventures of a ruby-throated hummingbird from Michigan to Costa Rica.

For ages 4-8, K-4:

How Do Birds Find Their Way?
Roma Gans
illus. Paul Mirocha

For ages 8 and up, grade 3 and up:

On the Wing: American Birds in Migration
by Carol Lerner

Includes colorful maps of migrations and ranges.

Kids and Families
February/March 2016
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Wildlife Wednesdays with Juliet and Nancy

10:30-11:00 a.m. on first Wednesday of the month

Juliet D’Souza and/or Nancy Ocken host a monthly series called Wildlife Wednesdays at the Freeport Public Library. During the program, there is a special story time followed by an activity related to the theme. Appropriate audience is 2—7 year olds. The theme on Feb. 3rd will be “Bears and other hibernating animals” and March 2nd will be “Spring Weather.”

Upcoming Events for Kids & Families

First Day of Spring Hike at Oakdale Nature Preserve

Saturday, March 19th, 10:00—11:30 a.m.

Open to all ages. Celebrate the first day of spring by being outside! We will provide binoculars for the kids to use to see which birds have returned to the area. We will look for other signs of wildlife and any emerging plant life ready for spring.

Dress appropriately for weather! Sign-ups are encouraged — please use Facebook or call Juliet at 201-233-0946. Call if weather is questionable. Meet in the parking lot of the Newell Tract, found on the West side of Cranes Grove Road.

Elkhorn Creek Woodcock Watches

  1. Tuesday, March 15, 7 p.m. — Leader Mary Blackmore, 815-938-3204
  2. Wednesday, March 23, 7 p.m. — Leader Anne Straight, 815-938-3263
  3. Thursday, March 31, 7 p.m. — Leader Mary Blackmore, 815-938-3204

Join us for any or all of these evening outings to watch and listen for American Woodcocks performing the “Sky Dance!” When and if this begins is an educated guess – so be sure you call the leader before you make the trip!

Beginning Birder

American Woodcock
Scolopax minor

American Woodcock The very well camouflaged brown-mottled American Woodcock searches on the forest floor with its long bill in hopes of finding earthworms. This plump little shorebird lives in young forests and shrubby old fields just like our Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve! It is hard to spot except in the springtime at dawn or dusk, when the males show off for females. Conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote about this amazing sky dance in his book, A Sand County Almanac. He called the “meep” sounds “peents.” Here is a description of what he saw:

“Up and up he goes, the spirals steeper and smaller, the twittering louder and louder, until the performer is only a speck in the sky. Then, without warning, he tumbles like a crippled plane, giving voice in a soft liquid warble that a March bluebird might envy. At a few feet from the ground, he levels off and returns to his peenting ground, usually to the exact spot where the performance began, and resumes his peenting.”

Fun Facts*

  • Some people call the American Woodcock the timberdoodle.
  • Its large eyes are located behind its ears, which allow it to see all around.
  • Our Audubon chapter will hold three Woodcock Watches: March 15, March 23, and March 31. All happen at 7 p.m. at Elkhorn Creek; see our Feb./March Newsletter.
  • The flight behavior of the males is called “courtship” which is the behavior of male birds and other animals aimed at attracting a mate. “Courtship” is one of our Naturespeak words discussed in the Feb./March Newsletter on page 5.
  • They eat earthworms and other invertebrates they find in the soil, including snails, millipedes, spiders, flies, beetles and ants.

* Some information taken from Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Check it out!

Can you spot the Haiku poem about the Woodcock in our Feb./March issue of the newsletter? I’ll give you a hint...it’s on page 2!

Get Linked In

Children, Nature and You Resources to help you give the children you influence the awe and wonder that only the natural world can inspire

Freeport Park District Information on all the Freeport parks

Freeport Public Library More than books on a shelf...visit the Freeport Public Library

Freeport/Stephenson County Convention and Visitors Bureau Events located in Stephenson County, IL

Getting Kids Involved (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology) Includes bird information, tips, and more for kids and families

The Great Backyard Bird Count for Kids Sponsored by the Audubon Society and other partners

Jane Addams Recreation Trail Ride or Hike the beautiful Jane Addams Trail

Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots A program of the Jane Goodall Institute offering a variety of programs and resources

National Audubon website Use “Get Outside” and “Family Time” prompts

National Wildlife Federation Many family-friendly articles; Ranger Rick family magazine

Paddle the Pecatonica River Water Trail Enjoy Illinois’ “Friendliest Paddle” on the Pecatonica River

Resource Guide Supplement to Last Child in the Woods Designed for parents, teachers, and community leaders to help them encourage children’s enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Severson Dells Nature Center Located near Rockford, IL.

Sierra Club Outdoors The program's goal is to give every child in America an outdoor experience.

Family Activity

Play a Migration Game

Several family members or friends can pretend to be a flock of migrating birds—perhaps in a V-shape as with geese. Have them rotate position so the lead bird can go to the back for a break and another moves into leadership.

Birds call to signal each other – you can make this fun by having the lead bird call back things like, “You getting too tired, Jack?” or “How are you doing, Livy?”

Make a Bird Bath

As migration brings more birds to our area, you can welcome them with a homemade bird bath as well as commercial ones. They can drink and bathe and fluff their feathers after their long journey. You can simply use a garbage lid. Or use large plant saucers or shallow bowls placed on tree stumps. The water should be no more than 3 inches deep. If it is deeper than that, you can put gravel or stones in the bottom—which is a good idea anyway to anchor it more firmly.

Be sure to change the water and to keep it clean; you can hose it down for a quick cleaning; occasionally wash with warm water and soap and a brush; scrub it vigorously, then rinse thoroughly. An adult can add a little bleach to the water; in that case, take special care to rinse thoroughly. Put your birdbath near shrubs or trees.

Decorate Windows to Prevent Birds from Crashing into Them

  • Use sparkly ribbons or strips of black garbage bags; the glitter and flutter will help to warn birds away.
  • Or you can draw flowers or squiggly lines with tempura paint.

Ideally, these devices would be about 4 inches apart, but you can judge how much you need by whether birds frequently hit your windows.

Calendar

News
and Events

Check out our full calendar of activities, events, and educational opportunities. You're sure to find something to interest you. Please join us!

Events include:

  • Monthly educational programs and issues discussions
  • Local bird walks
  • Field trips
  • Preserve work days

For more details, see the current newsletter.

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Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, to Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017
Annual Bird Seed Sale... >

Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017
Campfire at Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity Preserve... >

Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017
Wildlife Wednesdays: Wolves and Other Wild Dogs... >

Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017
Oakdale Nature Preserve: Family Nature Fall Hike... >