Nature's Book Nook

Many of these books can be found on PrairieCat; many are available for as little as 1 cent or 99 cents from booksellers on Amazon (with $3.99 for postage and handling).

For Kids:

For ages 8 to 12:

The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups
Gina Ingoglia

An outstanding book on trees! How do trees grow? Why do leaves change? What kind of tree is that? All of these questions and many more are explained in language simple enough for young children to follow but a good primer for adults too. Explains the trees' flowers, feeding systems, ancestry and roles in society – and all of it enhanced with beautiful illustrations.

For ages 4 to 8:

Ice Bear: In the Steps of the Polar Bear
Nicole Davies, illus. Gary Blythe

Over and Under the Snow
Kate Messner

The secret world of squirrels and bullfrogs, bears and mice and chipmunks, tunnels, caves and dens where animals find homes in the winter.

For ages 3 to 7:

Snowmen at Night
Caralyn and Mark Buehner

For just pure fun, enter the magical world of snowmen's night life.

Kids and Families
December 2016/January 2017
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In


Wildlife Wednesdays, 10:30 — 11:00 a.m. at the Freeport Library

Appropriate audience is two– to seven-year-olds

An Audubon member hosts 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 a theme.

Polar Bear Trees in the Winter

Animal Tracks & Scat Winter Hike

Saturday, January 14, 10:00 a.m. to approx. 11:30 a.m.

Meet in front of the Mogle Center at Oakland Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove Road.

Juliet Moderow will lead a winter hike to search for signs of wildlife. We will look for animal tracks, scat and other signs of animals that live at Oakdale. Dress appropriately for the weather including footwear that protects your feet from snow.

Kids of all ages and their families are welcome! Sign-ups are encouraged – contact leader Juliet at 201-233-0946. Meet at the Mogle Building at 10 a.m. If weather is questionable, call Juliet before the event.

Tracks Deer Scat

Field Trip: Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford

Saturday, December 3, 12:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Adult Admission: $8.00
Leader: Mary Blackmore, 815-938-3204
Carpool from the Staples lot in Freeport at 12:30 p.m.

Join us as we view new exhibits for Burpee’s 75th anniversary and get a special behind the scenes look at the entomology collection. John Walt will be our guide as he shows us plans for the spring insect exhibit.

We’ll then have plenty of time to observe the new displays, including a Native American exhibit featuring Edward Curtis photos and artifacts from the Burpee collection, displays on the history of Burpee and wildlife conservation, as well as the many other exhibits. Confirm your attendance by calling Mary.

Christmas Bird Count Is Coming! Be a Feeder Counter with Your Family!

Christmas Bird CountIt’s time again for the Northwest Illinois Audubon Society members to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count. You can take part in this year’s count on Saturday, December 17th if you have a bird feeder in the official count circle which is a 15-mile diameter circle with Read Park in Freeport as the center. On the count day, simply watch your bird feeder for at least four hours and record the largest number of each species present at any one moment. Just check your feeder often during the four hours you are counting. Then record what you saw on the form provided in the December/January Newsletter on page 6, which can be found on this website. Then you just mail it in by Dec. 23rd and you have participated as a citizen scientist for Audubon! Cool!

Beginning Birder

Snow Bunting
Plectrophenax nivalis

Snow Bunting Appropriately named, the Snow Bunting is a bird of the high Arctic and snowy winter fields. Even on a warm day, the mostly white plumage of a bunting flock makes you think of the image of a snowstorm. Sometimes known as the “snowflake,” its white plumage and dancing flight give its flocks the appearance of swirling snow flurries.

Cool Facts*

  • The Snow bunting can be found at high altitudes, even in the high Arctic, and is one of the few species to inhabit “nunataks,” exposed islands of tundra that protrude above the surrounding ice caps. Look up the word “tundra” with your family and talk about what that word means.
  • During the breeding season, these birds can be found far to our north in very cold areas of the world but during the winter, some of them migrate south and can even be seen eating grain from some of our farm fields!
  • They usually feed on the ground, eating seeds, buds and insects. They also eat wheat, oats and barley from farm fields.
  • They nest around June in the Arctic. The nest is built deep in a crack or cavity in the rock, and has lots of moss, grass, rootlets, fur and feathers to help keep the eggs and chicks warm. The female “mom” sits on the nest most of the time to keep the eggs very warm and the male “dad” comes and helps to feed the female while she is sitting on the eggs. Great way to work together little Snow buntings!
  • Some people believe these birds might be on the decline; reasons are not fully understood yet but it may be due to threats like the use of pesticides on crops since this species often feeds heavily on agricultural fields in the winter. Look up the word “pesticides” with your family and talk about what that means. What might be a way you and your family can check to make sure there are no chemicals that hurt birds, animals and insects around your yard and home?

* Information taken from Cornell Lab of Ornithology site All About Birds and ARKive, a not-for-profit initiative of the Charity Wildscreen.

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

Winter Fun

Make a snow angel; a partner helps the angel-maker get up neatly, without disturbing the edges.

Sprinkle cups of birdseed into the head and body. Add pine cones for angel’s spreading wings.

Snowman Race

Snowman Race: Have 2 kids or 2 teams make snowmen bottoms; at GO, they finish the snowman – body, hat, nose, etc.

Ideas from Outside Winter Time Fun by Barbara Shelby.

Winter Trees

Take a walk in your yard or neighborhood or park paying attention to trees—and don't forget binoculars! Look for differences in evergreen trees; if possible, identify some; at least note the different shapes, needles, and cones. Look up high in the evergreen trees for cones still on them. Look up high in the deciduous trees and notice the branches and knobs. With the leaves gone, these are easier to see.

Search for animal homes in deciduous trees. Look for evidence of ways animals survive in winter.

Don't forget to pack some peanut butter or suet into crevices of a large pinecone and roll in peanut butter and hang for the birds. Put some birdseed in an orange half or grapefruit half that has been hollowed out and hang from a tree branch.

Then have some hot chocolate – with lots of marshmallows!


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... >