Nature's Book Nook For Kids:

For preschool — kindergarten:

Everything Spring
Jill Esbaum

Vibrant photographs of baby animals and close-ups of buds and growth.

For ages 4-8:

When Spring Comes
Kevin Henkesand & Laura Dronzek

Just published: Transformation from quiet, cold winter to the unfurling of leaves, blossoming of flowers, greening of grass.

For ages 4-7:

And Then It's Spring
Julie Fugliano & Erin E .Stead

A young boy and his dog plant a garden and wait. Named a Best Book of 2012.

For ages 6-9:

Explore Spring: 25 Great Ways to Learn About Spring
Lauri Berkenkamp & Alexis Frederick-Frost

Projects/Activities/Experiments: Raising tadpoles—tracking spring peepers—and much more. Combines hands-on learning with solid science, trivia, riddles, and terrific illustrations.

For Adults:

Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water
Kathleen Dean Moore

Meditations on living in place.

Kids and Families
April/May 2016
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Draw a Bird Day at the Freeport Art Museum

For ages 7 or older, in collaboration with the Northwest Illinois Audubon Society

Saturday, April 2th from 2 - 4:30 p.m.

Celebrate “Draw a Bird Day” at the Freeport Art Museum. Director of Education, Barry Treu, will guide you through the steps to create a unique drawing of a bird to take home, and another to contribute to a bird mural for display at the library. Event is free but registration is required and space is limited to 25 children. Register with the Art Museum at (815)235-9755 or online at

Wildlife Wednesdays

For 2—7 year olds

10:30 – 11:00 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month at the Freeport Public Library

Audubon members host this monthly series at the Freeport Public Library. During the program, there is first a special story time followed by an activity related to the theme. Theme topics will be Bees: April 6 and Frogs and Toads: May 4. (Hey, are those “Amphibians?”)

Kids Earth Day Program

What is Earth Day and What Can I Do?
For 6-10 year olds

Friday, April 15, 4-5 p.m. at the Freeport Public Library

Juliet D’Souza will discuss the origins of Earth Day, show the kids the impact humans have on the planet, and provide ideas on what they can do to be good stewards of planet Earth and celebrate Earth Day every day!

Happy Earth Day

Family Bird Walk at Oakdale

Leader: Juliet D’Souza (201) 233-0946

Saturday, May 21, Oakdale Nature Preserve 9 – 10:30 a.m.

We will hike around Oakdale looking for birds and other spring wildlife. We will have binoculars for the kids to use. Meet in the parking area of the Newell Tract, the part of Oakdale on the west side of Crane’s Grove Road.

2nd Annual Superhero Cleanup with “Be the Change”

NIAS is supporting this community cleanup led by “Be The Change,” founded by Stephanie Feld of Freeport.
At Read Park, 200 Park Ln. Dr., Freeport, IL 61032

Superhero Cleanup April 16 with kickoff at 10:00 a.m. (Rainout date April 30)

Calling all SUPERHEROES! JOIN US in our FIGHT AGAINST GRIME as we team up with local businesses for the second annual Super Cleanup Saturday. Join us for the kickoff at Read Park beginning on April 16th at 10:00 a.m.

For more information or with questions, see the NIAS April-May newsletter on this website (page 4), or call (815) 990-2376. You can also contact

Silver Creek Bird Festival

Saturday, May 14, 8 – 11:00 a.m.

Join us for this family-friendly morning as we explore Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve for the migrating and resident birds found there. The preserve is located about 2 miles south of Leaf River. The parking area is off Leaf River Road. Guided bird tours, free “Illinois Birds” pocket guides while supplies last, rest area with chairs, restroom, beverages and snacks. If weather is questionable, call Mary Blackmore at (815) 938-3204.

Beginning Birder

Eastern Phoebe
Sayornis phoebe

Eastern Phoebe The Eastern Phoebe is one of our better known eastern flycatchers...but since they are flycatchers and feed mostly on insects, you probably won’t see them much at your feeders. You might see them sitting on a low perch twitching their tails as they look for flying insects. These brown and white songbirds will often place their mud and grass nests in protected nooks on bridges, barns and houses and might even reuse that nest year after year. They are one of our earliest returning migrants in the spring.

Fun Facts*

  • In 1804, the Eastern Phoebe became the first banded bird in North America. John James Audubon (gosh, why does that name sound familiar?) attached silver thread to an Eastern Phoebe’s leg to track its return in successive years.
  • They like nesting sites near wooded areas or with woody understory vegetation nearby, maybe to make nest sites less visible.
  • Flying insects make up most of their diet such as wasps, beetles, dragonflies, moths, and flies; but they also eat spiders, ticks and millipedes, as well as small fruits and seeds once in awhile.
  • Don’t mistake the Black-capped Chickadee’s sweet, whistled “fee-bee” call for the the Eastern Phoebe call; it is much quicker and raspier.
  • In early summer, you can quietly explore around old buildings, bridges, eaves and overhangs and you might spot a nest!

* Some information taken from Cornell Lab of Ornithology site All About Birds.

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 Outdoor Experience Events located in Freeport and Stephenson County

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

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

NASA Climate Kids to tell the story of our changing planet through the eyes of NASA missions studying Earth and provides games, activities, and articles that make climate science accessible and engaging for children

National Audubon for Kids provides resources for classroom curriculum, DIY activities, and bird activities for children at home

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

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.

World Migratory Bird Day Learn about the importance of migratory birds and how to celebrate birds any day of the year!

Family Activity

Spring Nature Activities

It's spring! It's time to enjoy the outdoors, and it can be done in the simplest ways.

Take leisurely walks around the block, in the garden, in a park, or, if you live near Freeport, at Oakdale. Take along a “treasure bag” and encourage children to pick up cones, sticks, rocks. Have a shelf at home to display these treasures. Teach them not to pick flowers, except in your yard; instead, stop to observe carefully a plant or flower. Count the petals. Name the colors. Smell. Look at the leaves. Are the leaves directly across from each other on the stem or are they alternate—or perhaps only at the base of the plant? What shape are they? Are they smooth or rough? If the child is old enough, have him draw the flowers—or have her look very closely and sketch from memory. Do this with the child. Then look at the plant. What did either of you forget to include?

Choose a tree to befriend. Begin now in the spring and watch the tree closely as each season progresses. Let the child take pictures, which you can post on a bulletin board. But encourage everyone to draw his or her own impressions of the tree. At the end of year, make a collage of drawings, photographs, journal observations.


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, Dec. 5, 2023
Program: Hidden Prairie: Photographing Life in One Square Meter... >

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023
Christmas Bird Count... >

Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023
Beginning Birder Club- Bird Movement - REGISTRATION CLOSED - Contact for waitlist... >

Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024
Program: Birds and Beauty in Arizona... >