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).


Over in a River:
Flowing Out to the Sea

by Marianne Berkes

Children will enjoy this educational and entertaining book that can be read or sung to the tune of “Over in a Meadow” while learning about water ecosystems. Many animals are included such as Great Blue Herons and Mallards, as well as fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. Each page provides a math lesson where the reader can count the animals shown, as well as geography lessons with a map of a different river system found in North America. It is a fun and clever book with additional facts and resources provided on the last pages.


Over and Under the Pond
by Kate Messner

This book is part of the Over and Under series, providing another look at a different ecosystem on the planet. The book covers quite a diverse array of animal life, including birds, such as the Red-winged Blackbird, Osprey, and Great Blue Heron, mammals like moose, otters, and beavers, reptiles like painted turtles, amphibians like bullfrogs, and a variety of insects. Adults and children will enjoy discovering what lives over and under the pond as they turn each page and feel like they are peering into the water.


A Place for Birds
by Melissa Stewart

This nonfiction book showcases twelve North American birds, including the Great Blue Heron, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Bald Eagle, Piping Plover, and the rare Kirtland’s Warbler. It contains information about how humans can negatively harm these birds with their actions, such as use of DDT and oil spills, but also provides solutions on how to help them, such as dimming lights at night. This book can inspire and encourage youth to make good environmental choices and teach others how they can help as well.


The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water
by Charles Fishman

The author shares the reality of our relationship with water. We require it for life yet we so readily pollute and make it undrinkable without thinking of future consequences. Written in 2012, it describes many examples of water troubles, but the theme is still relevant to current events we see today. Access to water has been changing for years and it is time to consider the inevitability of a global water crisis.

Kids and Families
April-May 2023
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April & May events throughout Freeport and surrounding areas!

Twig Picture Frames
Saturday, April 8
10:00 – 11:00 am
Oakdale Nature Preserve
4433 S. Cranes Grove Road, Freeport, IL

Meet at the Oakdale Pavilion by the main parking lot.

Using the resources provided by nature (and a little twine), we will do a simple craft of making picture frames. We will learn some basic knot and lashing techniques as well as how to find materials in the woods. Rope will be provide and cutting tools will be used to make materials of appropriate size.

Contact Adam Moderow to register by phone 815-541-5842 or email

Annual World Migratory Bird Day Event: Water!
Saturday, May 13
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Oakdale Nature Preserve
4433 S. Cranes Grove Road, Freeport, IL

Mogle Building and Oakdale Pavilion, plus the trails and creeks

There will be ongoing educational activities and crafts, a migratory obstacle course, and hourly hikes at 10:00 a.m, 11:00 a.m., and 12:00 p.m. to birdwatch and look for aquatic creatures. Rain or shine event. Free and open to the public. We will have giveaways while supplies last! Wear appropriate footwear for hiking and exploring water.


Beginning Birder

(Pandion haliaetus)


This year’s theme for World Migratory Bird Day is water and the Osprey is one of the ten featured ambassador birds to help educate the importance of water to birds. Osprey are typically found near any body of water, from freshwater to marine. They are a unique in that they are the only hawk that feeds primarily on fish.

Ospreys are mostly brown on the upperparts and white on the underside. The adults have a brown eyeline stripe, yellow eyes, and a sharply hooked bill. They have slender bodies with narrow wings and long legs. They are easily identified in flight with their brown wrists and a kink in their wings, creating an M shape in flight. To catch their prey, they dive feet first into the water and often fully submerge (no more than three feet below surface) to grasp their prey. They have unique feet with a reversible outer toe, which allows them to hold on to their slippery prey with two toes in front and two in back.

Ospreys usually mate for life. Together they build very large nests and require a platform-like surface or similar placement. Humans can assist by providing nesting platforms in areas where Osprey breed. Ospreys are endangered or threatened depending on the state due to the use of DDT pesticides from the 1950s to 1970s. The pesticides poisoned the birds (as well as other species) and caused their eggshells to thin, leading to severe decline in populations. Today, their populations are improving but they are still at risk of entanglement and death due to plastic pollution that can be tangled in their nests.

* 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

April-May 2023

Family Activity

Celebrate the theme of World Migratory Bird Day 2023 about water by exploring aquatic ecosystems. All living organisms, including YOU, require water.

Put on some boots, bring some nets and containers, and of course, bring binoculars. Walk around aquatic habitats, such as near streams and creeks and search for creatures that rely on water. There are many bird species than tend to be near or on water, such as Sandhill Cranes, Red-winged Blackbirds, American White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, and many species of waterfowl. Many migratory warblers and sparrows require water for survival on their long journeys. These birds use the habitat for shelter, food, and for their nests. See if you can observe the behavior of these birds by keeping distant and quiet. You may get a chance to see their nests and what they use for food. Water is a great place that attracts insects that many birds can eat.

When you have an opportunity, safely collect water samples from the creek (ensure an adult is with you and be careful in and near the water). What kind of organisms can you find in the water? Many invertebrates live in water including insects, their larvae, and crayfish. You may also find vertebrates in the water like amphibians and fish or mammals that live nearby.

When you return home, consider how you use water. Think about how often you use water or waste water and learn ways to conserve it, such as turning off the faucet while brushing teeth and not putting toxic materials down the drain.

Learn more about World Migratory Bird Day at


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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