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 Snow
by Divya Srinivasan

This board book is part of our favorite Little Owl series. This time, follow Little Owl as he notices the changing season and learns about snow. The illustrations will captivate the young reader who will likely share their first experiences of winter alongside Little Owl.


Snow Birds
by Kirsten Hall

This book highlights birds that stick around during harsh winters. The reader will learn that not all birds migrate and many species will use their special adaptations to survive the coldest months. The book includes a diverse array of species that can be found in the area including Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Common Redpolls, Snow Buntings, Snow Geese, Snowy Owl, Black-capped Chickadees, and Downy Woodpeckers.


This is a Book for People
Who Love Birds

by Danielle Belleny

As the title states, this book is for any bird lover, juvenile reader or adult! Belleny, who is a wildlife biologist and one of the co-founders of Black Birders Week, shares her passion for birds and creates a welcoming and delightful bird book that will be enjoyed by birders and nonbirders as well as beginning birders or advanced birders. It is easy to read and filled with many educational bird facts and wonderful illustrations by Stephanie Singleton to accompany each page. We highly recommend this book to kickstart someone’s birding interest as well.


What It’s Like to Be a Bird
by David Allen Sibley

With the Sibley name behind this book, you cannot go wrong. This books is amazing and educational for any birder or nonbirder from teens to adults. Any reader will absorb the facts and share their new bird knowledge with others. It flows like an encyclopedia or reference guide, allowing the reader to stop and return frequently. Of course, the illustrations are beautiful and will be admired from page to page. This will indeed be a favorite book to add to your bird collection.

Kids and Families
December 2022/January 2023
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

January events throughout Freeport and surrounding areas!

To Build a Fire
Saturday, January 21
10:00 – 11:00 am
Oakdale Nature Preserve
4433 S. Cranes Grove Road, Freeport, IL
Coordinator: Adam Moderow

Learn how to build a fire in the winter and how to manage it properly in nature to keep you and surroundings safe. Dress warmly. We will likely have some hiking and sensory experiences during the program as well.

To register, contact Adam Moderow at or at 815-541-5842.

Beginning Birder

Lapland Longspur
(Calcarius lapponicus)

longspur Lapland Longspurs are abundant songbirds, but we are only fortunate to see it during our winter months. These migratory birds breed in the tundra of the high Arctic region, but travel south to a large portion of the United States during the winter season. Their name “Lapland” refers to the Lapland region of Scandinavia and “longspur” refers to their unusually long hind claw.

Lapland Longspurs are small, sparrow-like birds. They have different plumages depending on the breeding and nonbreeding season. When they are in the Arctic during the breeding season, the male bird has a bold black mask and chestnut nape of the neck and females are similar, but subtler with the black coloring. During their winter migration south, both males and females look similar with their less dynamic nonbreeding plumage. They both have a heavily streaked back and crown and a small outline of black around the ear.

Because their birds live in the arctic tundra for a portion of the year, they will visit similar habitats during the winter. In Illinois, this means prairie habitat or near agricultural fields that are open, treeless, and dominated by short grasses. Therefore, the best place to find these birds in the winter are to partake in an open land birding, which involves traveling near these open fields and looking on the sides of the roads where they can be found eating seeds. In the warmer seasons, they will also eat insects. You can often find similar migratory birds including Snow Buntings and Horned Larks in their huge flocks (that have been estimated to contain up to 4 million birds!). We hope you can get out this winter and find these “snow” birds before they go back to the Arctic area in the spring.

* 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 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

December 2022/January 2023

Family Activity

Go on a winter walk. Use all of your senses. Learn the differences between deciduous and evergreen trees.

Stop, look, listen—the crunch of snow, the crackling of twigs, the blowing of the wind. Try to find as many different colors that you can find – the dark green of the evergreens against the sky. The bare brown tree trunks of deciduous trees. Is the sky blue or gray? Is it snowing or is snow coming soon? Do you see any birds in the tree, such as a red Northern Cardinal or a black American Crow that appear more striking in the winter?

Notice the bare limbs of the deciduous trees? Now is a good opportunity to see all that was hidden before, such as squirrel nests, twisty, gnarly branches, and perhaps some holes. Perhaps you can find a mammal or bird in that hole taking shelter from the cold. Maybe even an owl!

Now look at the green needle leaves of evergreen trees. Look on the ground for pine cones and high in the trees. Notice how the evergreens provide shelter from wind, rain, and snow.

Look for evidence of how animals survive in winter. How could evergreens help them? Look for animal tracks, scat, and other signs of animals. Ask: If you were an animal in winter, where would you stay?

When you return home, make a journal describing and drawing what you heard and saw and make sure to use different colors to illustrate your pages.


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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