Nature's Book Nook For Kids:

Winter Trees by Carole Gerber, illus. by Leslie Evans
A boy and his dog take a walk through winter woods, identifying through sound and touch 7 common trees, including evergreens. Art, poetry, science, and play combine for a delightful read on a winter day – or take it along while on a walk.

Sky Tree by Thomas Locker
The author says, “I have spent most of my life learning to paint trees against the ever-changing sky.” Through storytelling, art appreciation, and scientific exploration, Sky Tree reaches both the heart and the mind.

For Kids and Adults:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, illus. by Susan Jeffers
This well known picture book is in a new edition with new details and subtle colors and new animals to find in the trees. Stop by the woods and enjoy the quiet delights of winter.

For Adults:

Gray Mountain by John Grisham
A best seller that combines a good story with solid information on strip mining and its effects. It is a story that illustrates the truths of the evil and good of humanity and the consequences of plundering nature.

Kids and Families
December 2014/January 2015
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In
Animal Signs and Tales, Sat., Jan. 10, 2014

Audubon will again offer this program, which will be a fun winter morning learning about the animals that are out in the woods at this time of year. If you have attended before, come again because every tracking walk teaches us about something new. Families with children are encouraged to attend because much of the program will be hands-on, such as going outside and looking for tracks, scat and other clues that animals provide. Hopefully, there will be snow, but even if not there will be plenty of signs for us to observe. Dress for the weather, including footwear that protects your feet from snow. We will meet in the Mogle Center which is located at the south end of the parking at the Oakdale Nature Preserve. Oakdale is three miles south of Freeport on Baileyville Road. Program sign-ups are encouraged, so call Richard at the number above if you plan to attend.

Christmas Bird Count –
Feeder Count Portion

Does your family like to watch birds on the feeder? The NIAS annual Christmas Bird Count might be just the thing to start your family on the road to becoming a bird watcher and supporter! On December 14th, this year’s count will take place. You and your family can take part in the feeder portion where you watch your feeders for at least 4 hours and record the largest number of each species present at any one moment.

For directions about how to begin, check out page 5 of our December 2014 – January 2015 Newsletter. There are instructions that will tell you who to call if you would like to participate and a copy of the form needed for the count. You must be sure that your feeders are in the official count circle, a 15-mile diameter circle with Read Park in Freeport as the center. We hope you can help us take these one-day snapshots of bird diversity and population.

Beginning Birder

Cedar Waxwing
Bombycilla cedrorum

Cedar Waxwing A treat to find in your binocular viewfield, the Cedar Waxwing is a silky, shiny collection of brown, gray, and lemon-yellow, accented with a subdued crest, rakish black mask, and brilliant-red wax droplets on the wing feathers. In fall, these birds gather by the hundreds to eat berries, filling the air with their high, thin whistles. In summer, you’re as likely to find them flitting about over rivers in pursuit of flying insects, where they show off dazzling aeronautics for a forest bird.

Here are some cool facts:

  • The name ‘waxwing’ comes from the waxy red secretions found on the tips of feathers. The exact function of these tips is not known, but they may help attract mates.
  • This is one of the few North American birds that specializes in eating fruit. It can survive on fruit alone for several months.
  • Many birds that eat a lot of fruit separate out the seeds and regurgitate them, but the Cedar Waxwing lets them pass right through.
  • Because they eat so much fruit, Cedar Waxwings occasionally become intoxicated when they run across overripe berries that have started to ferment and produce alcohol.
  • Building a nest takes a female Cedar Waxwing 5 to 6 days and may require more than 2,500 trips to the next. They sometimes save time by taking nest materials from other birds’ nests.
  • The oldest known Cedar Waxwing was 8 years, 2 months old.
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

Ideas from Project Learning Tree of the American Forest Foundation.

Go on a Winter Evergreen Walk

Go on a winter evergreen walk. Stop, look, listen – the crunch of snow, the crackling of twigs, the wind. Notice the dark green of the evergreens against the sky. If there is snow and sun, point out the contrast of blue sky, dark green, and the snow.

Look on the ground for pine cones and high in the trees.

Look up through the branches of evergreens, talk about the patterns, and the ways evergreens provide shelter from wind, rain, and snow.

Look up at the deciduous trees; find the nests and holes now visible with the leaves gone.

Look for evidence of how animals survive in winter. How could evergreens help them? Look for animals tracks, scat, other signs of animals. Ask: If you were an animal in winter, where would you stay?

Look for the whorls of branches on conifers. Each year the tree adds a new whorl of branches. Estimate the age of the tree by counting the whorls (adding two or three years for the early years before the tree started making whorls).

Back inside, enjoy some hot chocolate or tea, pointing out that these treats come from trees.

Then, Make a Winter Treat for the Birds

Mix one part peanut butter or suet with five parts corn meal and pack the mixture into the crevices of a large pine cone. Hang outside and watch the birds enjoy their treat.


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.


Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020
Field Trip: Pecatonica Wetland Forest Preserve... >

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020
November Program Moved to November 11... >

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020
November Program: Members Night... >

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020
Field Trip: Migrating Waterfowl on the Mississippi River... >