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:


Spot the Animals: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Colors
by American Museum of Natural History

This simple, but educational board book introduces children to colors and animals. It is a peek-a-boo type book, with animals hiding under the flaps. There are simple descriptions about each animal and their behavior as well.


Secrets of Animal Camouflage – A Shine-A-Light Book
by Carron Brown and Wesley Robins

This book introduces the child to the world of camouflage with vivid colors and patterns on every page. Also, because it is a shine-a-light book, the child can interact and confirm each finding using the flashlight under each page. Each page asks the child to find each hidden animal and teaches them many facts about them. The book includes crab spiders, trogons, walking sticks, screech owls, orchid mantises, octopus, and many others.


Jungle Bugs: Masters of Camouflage and Mimicry
by Bruce Purser

The author of this book has searched and photographed insects that hide in the environment, using amazing adaptations, such as resembling leaves and bird droppings or mimic other insects. This book will feature many photographs and information that will fascinate and teach older kids about insect adaptations and survival in the environment.

For Adults:

The Lost Words
by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

After the Oxford Junior Dictionary removed many common words concerning nature and replaced them with technological words, the authors of this book wanted to bring them back to light. Words such as acorn, dandelion, fern, heron, and willow became “lost words” and this book summons them back to life, in what is subtitled as a “spell book,” using gorgeous artwork, imagery, and poetry.

Kids and Families
October/November 2020
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Kids and Families Fall event!

Family Scavenger Hunt at Oakdale Nature Preserve (Map)
4433 S. Cranes Grove Rd., Freeport, IL 61032

Saturday, October 3, 2020
10 - 11:30 a.m.

Coordinator Richard Benning: 815-865-5279

This scavenger hunt is perfect for kids and families who love to explore, but also in the safety of COVID-19 guidelines. Meet at the parking lot near the Mogle center between 10 and 11:30am to receive your scavenger hunt list. You will then go with your family unit on your own and find things on your list. When in close proximity to other family units, please maintain social distancing and/or wear masks. Please see our calendar page for more details. Please call Richard Benning to register to ensure that the number of total participants is appropriate for safe scavenger hunting!

Family and kids scavenger hunt

Beginning Birder

Eastern Screech-Owl

Eastern Screech-OwlThe Eastern Screech-Owl may be small, but it is just like any other owl. It is a bird-of-prey, with sharp talons and a sharp beak. There are two types: the Gray morph and the Red morph. Both of them are excellent at camouflage, with feathers that match the tree bark they are roosting in – you might have walked right by one and not know it! These owls are nocturnal, so they sleep in tree cavities during the day; therefore, with their eyes closed and motionless bodies, they are masters at hiding in plain sight.

They have “ear” tufts, similar to the larger Great Horned Owls, which also helps with looking like branches of a tree. While the name says “screech,” their calls actually sound more like a horse whinnying.

Fun fact:
Eastern Screech-Owls are predators. They consume other animals including insects, rodents, and other birds. Then they regurgitate the undigested materials (fur, bones, and feathers) in an owl pellet. If you find one, take it apart and see what is inside (wear gloves and wash your hands afterward!)

* Thanks to

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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


Search for hidden creatures!

Is that leaf really a leaf? Or is it a butterfly or a katydid? Is that stick really a stick? Or is it a walking stick insect? Autumn is a time for animals to start migrating or preparing for winter. As plants start to turn brown and many leaves fall to the ground, many creatures use them for shelter and hiding places. As you explore, slowly and carefully look under twigs, rocks, tree bark for hidden creatures. Also look for animals hiding in plain sight. Many animals stay quiet and motionless until you walk away from them. Look high and low for these creatures and learn about camouflage and mimicry along the way. When you are done, play hide-and-seek with your family members!

Insect hidden on leaf


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.


Saturday, Apr. 17, 2021
Annual Crane Count... >

Thursday, Apr. 22, 2021
Bird Walk: N. Jane Addams Trail and Orangeville Wetlands... >

Wednesday, Apr. 28, 2021
Bird Walk: Newell Tract, Oakdale Nature Preserve... >

Tuesday, May. 4, 2021
Zoom Program: Forest Park Owls: Hiding in Plain Sight... >

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