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:

Beginner book:

Feely Bugs
David. A Carter

This book is a collection of tactile experiences that can be provided by our small crawlers (or sometimes flyers). There are feathery bugs, lacey bugs, wrinkly bugs, and many more. If you know a more “hands-on” reader, this is your answer. This is a book that encourages touching.


Baby’s First Book of Birds & Colors
Phyllis Limbacher Tildes

Don’t let the title fool you, this book does not pull any punches when it comes to bird species. Nine basic colors are covered with two representative birds each. The Northern Cardinal and Blue Jay are represented, but so are species like the Hermit Thrush and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. This book doesn’t go into a lot of information about these birds, but it’s a good way to make sure they can pick out a Roseate Spoonbill when they see it.

Grade school:

The Wild Robot
Peter Brown

Roz is a robot who first powers up on an island. She has no knowledge of where she came from or why, but she does know that she has to survive. The local animals are not immediately friendly but through close observation, Roz learns their techniques for living in the wild and more importantly, the relationships and balance that they achieve. Roz quickly takes on these natural tactics and even adopts an orphaned gosling. The conflict between technology and nature is explored as Roz struggles to balance her new way of life among the animals and her mechanized origins that come looking for her.


Daniel Quinn

This is a book that sticks with you. I hope this is a familiar title for most of you, but if not, give it a look. Don’t let the pseudo-psychic gorilla fool you, this book is serious. This book is largely a dialogue between teacher and pupil focused on the social, moral, and philosophical implications of humans on the planet. It’s a simple read, and all the more impactful for its simplicity. If you have read it already, revisit it. If you haven’t gotten around to this title, I’ll leave you with the newspaper ad that starts this journey: “Teacher seeks Pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.”

Kids and Families
February/March 2019
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Night Walk

Oakdale Nature Preserve

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Join a leisurely stroll on some of Oakdale’s trails after the sun has set and darkness rules. It can be a fascinating experience as we learn to adjust our sensory awareness. There is no guarantee of hearing owls or other nocturnal residents, but it is a possibility. We will witness how darkness affects our sense of sight and how to sharpen our other senses. If the sky is clear, we might look for some of the constellations.

The program will start in the Mogle Center.

For questions about this program, call Richard Benning at 815-865-5279.

Night Walk at Oakdale Nature Preserve

Woodcock Watches

Friday, March 15, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 20, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 26, 7:00 p.m.

Woodcock Watches

With an adult, visit Elkhorn Creek Biodiversity preserve to watch and listen for American Woodcocks’ performing their amazing courtship display. The “Sky Dance” itself is part ground-strutting and part zig-zagging flight, barely visible in the early evening sky. More fascinating perhaps are the sounds that go with it, the repetitious vocal “peent!” followed by the twittering and chirping sounds made when air rushes through primary flight feathers during the birds’ descent. On a quiet evening, it is pure audio magic.

For questions about the March 15 and March 26 program, call Mary Blackmore at 815-938-3204; for March 20, call Anne Straight at 815-938-3263

Beginning Birder

White-crowned Sparrow
Zonotrichia leucophrys

White-crowned Sparrow Take a look out the window at your feeders this month, kids. Do you see a small bird with a smart-looking black and white head, pale beak and crisp gray breast? This is a White-crowned Sparrow and is a winter bird for us in northern Illinois. When I see the White-crowned Sparrow at my feeders, I know we are in the midst of a seasonal change. They like the sunflower and other seeds at your feeder but might seem to prefer eating off the ground on the seeds other birds have dropped.

Cool Facts*

  • White-crowned Sparrows will chase Chipping Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos until they leave.
  • A young male White-crowned Sparrow learns the basics of the song it will sing as an adult during the first two or three months of its life. They often sing in the ‘dialect’ of where they grew up but if they grow up on the edge of two dialects, they may be bilingual and able to sing both songs.
  • A migrating White-crowned Sparrow was once tracked moving 300 miles in a single night.
  • The breeding habitat of this bird is brushy areas, tundra, alpine meadows and forest edges across northern Canada and parts of the western United States.
  • They can be seen in winter busily double scratching the ground to turn up seeds; a backwards scratch to turn over leaves to reveal seeds and then a forward hop to collect their prize.
  • In the spring, when they are moving north, their white and black-stripped helmet is very colorful. In the fall, it is not as colorful.
  • The striped crown makes it one of the easiest sparrows to identify in North America.

* Sources include and

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

Late Winter Exploration

If there is still snow on the ground, take a trip outside to make snow angels (or snow birds)! Lay down on your back in the snow, then move your arms and legs side to side.

While you make your snow angels, look up at the sky to watch for any birds flying by. In the evening, go outside with your family and you might hear some owls!

Go outside and try to spot the American Woodcock. This is the best time of year to find one! When the American Woodcock flies, it looks like a nerf bullet! While you are trying to find one, you can take a walk and look for animal tracks in the snow.

Since Valentine’s Day is in February, a fun craft to do would be to make a heart owl. Carefully cut out a heart-shaped head, feet, and a set of wings from construction paper, then glue them on to the edges of a paper plate so that it resembles an owl. You can use googly eyes or just draw your own eyes on, and write a clever phrase, such as “Hoo loves you?” in the middle.


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... >