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:


Little Owl's Colors
by Divya Srinivasan

This delightful board book follows orange-feathered Little Owl as it explores the colors of the forest. Little Owl finds white fluttering moths, gliding black bats, zigging and zagging blue dragonflies, a resting brown bear, and a red cardinal eating red berries above red fish in the lake. This book has adorable illustrations that teach young children about the colors in nature.


Bird Hugs
by Ged Adamson

Bernard isn't like other birds. His wings are too long for flying, but after feeling sorry for himself and meeting other sad animals, Bernard finds that his wings are useful for something else: Giving hugs! This book celebrates our differences and the importance of friendship with other diverse individuals.


World of Wonders
by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

The full title of this book is World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks and Other Astonishments and this is the first nonfiction book written by this award-winning poet. Therefore, as you read this book, you experience a very poetic and beautiful journey as you learn about the bizarre, unique, and interesting plants and animals of the world. The black and white illustrations with small touches of color are striking and memorable. This book encourages the reader to embrace and celebrate the diversity on the planet.

For Adults:

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature
by J. Drew Lanham

This memoir written by J. Drew Lanham explores his personal experiences growing up as a black man in the south and becoming a nature enthusiast or "the rare bird, the oddity" in a white flock of society. Lanham discusses the relationship between race and the environment and how your "home place" affects you for the rest of your life and gives you a sense of belonging. While he describes the hardships of racism and difficulties he has faced as a person of color, he also shares how nature is a sanctuary and should be a safe place for all walks of life.

Kids and Families
June - July 2021
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

June and July events throughout Freeport!

Native Prairie Walk
Saturday, June 26 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Newell Tract, Oakdale Nature Preserve (4433 S. Cranes Grove Road)
Freeport, IL 61032
Leader Adam Moderow will teach kids and families about the abundant and diverse plant species that have called this area home since before the first settlers. Meet in the shelter/parking area on the west side of S. Cranes Grove Road. Register using the contact information below.

Native Prairie Walk

Navigating in the Wild
Saturday, July 17 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Newell Tract, Oakdale Nature Preserve (4433 S. Cranes Grove Road)
Freeport, IL 61032
Leader Adam Moderow will teach kids and families strategies for navigation, such as using your watch for a compass, finding East using a stick in the ground, or locating the placement of moss on a tree. Meet in the shelter/parking area on the west side of S. Cranes Grove Road.

Navigating in the Wild

To register for either of these events, contact Adam at 815-541-5842 or by email at

Beginning Birder

Common Grackle
(Quiscalus quiscula)

Common Grackle The Common Grackle belongs to the large blackbird family, which includes relatives such as the Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Baltimore Oriole, and Brown-headed Cowbird. The male is mostly black, but with a glossy and iridescent body and blueish head. The females are more subtle in color and less glossy. The adults have bright yellow eyes, while the younger birds have brown eyes.

You will typically find Common Grackles feeding on the ground, especially when other birds have knocked bird seed out of a feeder. They have special adaptations in their upper beak to help them saw open acorns. They are also good at searching and finding food, which can include taking worms away from American Robins.

In the winter, Common Grackles are often found in large flocks, which could reach numbers as high as millions. They can be loud and noisy, with varied squeaks, whistles, and croaks. They also are common around city parks, backyard lawns, and agriculture fields, since corn and rice are common favorite food items.

An interesting behavior that some grackles do is called anting. The birds will spread their wings over an ant hill and allow the ants to crawl over its body. It is believed that because the ants secrete formic acid when disturbed and during stinging, the acid might ward off parasites on the grackle body.


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


Explore the Colors of Nature

First, take pieces of strong paper or index cards and color them with different crayons, markers, or colored pencils. Take these cards outside and match them with what you can find in nature. How many different shades of green can you find? How many different shades of brown can you find? Can you find the colors of the rainbow?

Remember to look high and low! At this time of year, many flowers are blooming with different shades of color but don't forget to look at what could be on or in the flower. The diversity of insects that visit the flowers is endless!

Observe the diversity of birds. Many birds appear one color, but at different angles, show a variety of other colors. For example, the Common Grackle may at first appear all black, but when the light strikes just right, you can see an iridescent rainbow. The male Ruby-throated hummingbird has a red throat at some angles, but it appears black at other angles. Other birds show their colors when their wings open - just wait and be patient and you might be able to see them show off their hidden colors!

For younger children, take a large piece of cardboard and make multiple circles, each with a different color outline. Ask your child to find loose items in nature and place them in the correct circle. This will incorporate early sorting skills, counting, and improve dexterity.

These activities are a great way for kids (and adults) to look closely and pay attention to what they are seeing.

Reading outside


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... >

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