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).


Ivy Bird
by Tania McCartney and Jess Racklyeft

This book follows a typical day of a young child named Ivy. She spends her day with the amazing birds around her by imagining that she is a bird as well. She pecks her breakfast, flutters and flies from place to place, sips sweet nectar, sings and chirps to communicate, takes a bird bath, and settles into her nest at night. As you read the story, you will then notice that each page shows real species of birds that match each behavior, which are also explained at the end of the book.


Birds from Head to Tail
by Stacey Roderick

This book is a delightful and educational book perfect for a beginning reader and budding birder. The child can guess which bird each close-up belongs to – such as the bright blue feet of the Blue-footed Booby, the keen eyes of the Bald Eagle, the unusual body of the flightless Kiwi, or the long pink legs of the flamingo. While the guessing pages are easy to read, the following answer page provides lengthier fun facts for greater learning. There is also a bonus page about even more cool birds!


Superlative Birds
by Leslie Bulion

This book is written by an award-winning science poet who teaches all about the award-winners of the bird kingdom, if there was a contest that exists! This contest would have categories like “smallest” or “biggest” bird, but also more bizarre categories like “most-gruesome prey collection,” “biggest loudmouth,” or the “smelliest” bird. It is a witty book with interesting and extraordinary facts that will be appreciated by any curious reader.


Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World
by Christian Cooper

Christian Cooper is a brilliant writer who shares his life story that is primarily shaped by his passion for nature and birding. However, this memoir is beyond being a birder. Christian weaves his past and present stories in a beautifully written way, connecting very poignant parts of his life that helped mold the person he is today. He shares personal accounts of his identity as a Black gay man, his family, life at Harvard, his work at Marvel comics, and of course, the racist encounter that made him well-known today. He may have been introduced to the large part of the world for that incident, but because of that, we are fortunate to know more about this remarkable human being. His notability now is used as a means to help build a sense of belonging in the birding community and remind others that birds are for all to enjoy.

Kids and Families
August/September 2023
Beginning Birder  |  Get Linked In

Events throughout Freeport and surrounding areas!

Beginning Birder Club
Third Saturday of the Month – September 2023 through April 2024
10:30 to 12:00 p.m.
Led by Juliet Moderow
Registration required – Contact us at to register or get on the waitlist for the program.
Freeport Public Library, Youth Services Program Room
100 E Douglas St, Freeport, IL 61032

This will be a fun, educational program for youths to learn about different topics about birds. Lessons will be tailored for ages 6-10, but younger/older children are welcome. An adult must be present during the entire program. All sessions are independent from each other, so you are welcome to attend any that you are able.

Each program will be held at 10:30 am to approximately 12:00 pm on the third Saturday of the month. Sessions will be held at the Freeport Public Library in the Youth Services Program Room, but we will try to end the session outside to look for birds. Please dress appropriately for the weather as well.


  • September 16, 2023What makes a bird a bird?
    We will learn about the unique characteristics of a bird.
  • October 21, 2023 Finding and naming birds
    We will learn about habitats where birds can be found and how to identify local birds that can be found in the area.
  • November 18, 2023 Bird tools
    We will learn about the natural tools that birds use (beaks and feet), especially when it comes to feeding.
  • December 16, 2023Bird movement
    We will learn more about feathers, how birds fly, why some birds migrate and others do not.
  • January 20, 2024 Birds of prey
    We will learn about birds of prey and do an owl pellet dissection.
  • February 17, 2024Bird reproduction
    We will learn about bird reproduction, egg laying, nest building, etc.
  • March 16, 2024Bird banter
    We will learn about how birds sing and learn songs/calls of common birds in the area.
  • April 20, 2024Bird conservation & Being a birder
    We will learn about how to protect birds and how to be a birder!

Beginning Birder

Mourning Dove
(Zenaida macroura)

Mourning Dove

Mourning Doves are a common bird in North America, related to Rock Pigeons. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including backyards. They are primarily seed eaters and will feed on the ground. They may visit bird feeders for any fallen seed, especially millet. They are often seen perching on telephone wires in pairs, easily recognized by their silhouette.

Mourning Doves have a small head with thin, black bills and a plump body. They have pale peach-colored feathers, with gray on top. There are scattered black spots on the wings with pink iridescence and sometimes a small black mark on the neck can be seen.

They are recognizable for their sad, mournful “coo coo” song that gives them their name. When in flight, they make loud whistling sounds and may clap their wings, which could help to scare a predator or give warnings to other birds.

After a Mourning Dove forms a pair bond for the breeding season, they will build a flimsy nest. Nests can be found typically in trees and grounds, but can also be formed in gutters and eaves of houses. They will lay two eggs, but multiple times during a breeding season.

To help protect Mourning Doves and any other bird, please leave your cats indoors. Ground-dwelling birds are easily caught and killed by cats. We can help birds by keeping our cats inside.

* Thanks to

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

August - September 2023

Family Activity

What do birds eat and how do they eat it?

Look at some bird pictures and point out the beaks, explaining that every bird has a beak that is shaped to help it find and eat its own food. Then you can try out these techniques:

  • Eat like a robin: Embed gummy worms in a pan full of dried oats. Have the child try to spear the gummy worms with tweezers.
  • child eating gummy worms

  • Eat like a hummingbird: Have the child suck up a little sugar water, using a straw for a beak and fitting the straw through a hole in a piece of paper or foil covering a glass.
  • Eat like a cardinal: Use a nutcracker to crack sunflower seeds or something of similar hardness. Point out the wide, strong beak of the cardinal.
  • Eat like a woodpecker: Help a child peck hard at an old piece of wood with a screwdriver or other hard, pointed object; an adult can help to make sure there are no injuries. Another idea is to take a paper towel roll poked with holes and put small pieces of gummy worms partially seen from the outside. The child has to pull the worm out through the hole, similar to what a woodpecker would do.
  • Eat like a flycatcher or a swallow: Have the child catch some popped popcorn or light cereal that you throw into the air. For more fun, hang the food on a string and have them chase after the “fly” around the room.
  • Eat like a finch: Put some rice cereal in a small cardboard box with holes in it; have them get the cereal out with tweezers.
  • Eat like a chickadee/sparrow, etc.: Put the cereal in a bowl and let them eat – no hands allowed.
  • Eat like an eagle, hawk, etc.: Let the child pounce on a small stuffed animal – you can add the predator/prey information if appropriate for age.

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.


Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
September 29 Birdseed Sale Order Deadline!... >

Friday, Sep. 29, 2023
Full Moon Campfire at Silver Creek Biodiversity Preserve... >

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023
Program: Update from Illinois Evironmental Council, 2023 Annual Report... >

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023
Field Trip: Maquoketa Caves State Park... >

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