Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

Restarting, and Redirecting, the Neighborhood Nature Blog May 5, 2014

Filed under: Administration,Neighborhood Habitats — saltthesandbox @ 4:24 pm

As I first wrote here last spring, this blog has been inactive during the past few years as I devoted myself to other projects. This year, however, I have shifted the focus of my nature time and will, eventually, shift the focus of my posts for Neighborhood Nature. Rather than studying and writing about whatever aspects of nature catch my eye on a given day, I have been focusing on a more specific aspect of our neighborhood: the urban parks and suburban landscapes were my sons and I monitor birds for Chicago’s Bird Conservation Network. That includes:

  • The birds we find in these places,
  • The urban and suburban habitats where we find these birds,
  • The plants, bugs, and other resources that birds find and use within these habitats,
  • How bird numbers and behaviors change through the seasons, and
  • How the habitats and their resources change over time.

In preparation for the renewal of this blog, starting spring, 2014, I did the following::

  • Added a couple of additional monitoring sites,
  • Increased my monitoring at my existing sites (to weekly visits to all sites),
  • Did a more thorough job of documenting breeding success using eBird’s breeding codes,
  • Photographed and otherwise documented the plant and water resources available at those sites, and how they changed with the seasons, and
  • Made more notes about the birds’ use of plant and water resources.

That’s where my focus has been from last spring through mid fall. Soon it will be time to start writing and posting photos about my discoveries to date.


About Neighborhood Nature January 7, 2009

Filed under: Administration — saltthesandbox @ 3:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Hi, I’m Eric Gyllenhaal, and this blog is about the nature my children and I find near our home. We plan to photograph and write about the animals, plants, fungi, and rocks that we encounter in our neighborhood in south Oak Park, Illinois.

I’m the Dad, and I’ve have been interested in nature and science since I was a boy. I have degrees in natural resources, geology, and paleontology, and my careers have included working in and for museums of many types, but especially natural history and children’s museums. One of my out-of-work projects has been the Salt the Sandbox website. At present, I’m taking time off from work to develop a series of writing projects that help parents understand and support their children’s interests in nature and science — starting with what I have learned raising my own children.

My children are Ethan, 13, and Aaron, 12. As they’ve grown, they’ve developed a wide variety of nature, science and technology interests. Right now they are passionately interested in birds, but they have also been interested in turtles, dinosaurs, plants, rocks, fish, fossils, gems, cars, and trains.

Our home is in south Oak Park, Illinois — an older suburb, densely packed with people, just west of Chicago. The nature we write about will be whatever we find within walking distance of our home — along our residential streets, in our backyard, or in local parks (including Columbus Park on the west side of Chicago, where we monitor birds for the local Audubon Society). We plan to post at least twice a week, focusing on both things that change with the seasons (like plants and animals) and the things that stay the same (like the rocks used to build and decorate local buildings).

We hope this blog will become a resource for other families who want to explore nature in their neighborhoods.