Neighborhood Nature

Our Family's Nature Blog

A January Walk through Columbus Park January 17, 2010

As I monitored birds this morning in Columbus Park, I did an experiment. I took photos with my iPhone and uploaded them live to Facebook. It was kind of like a virtual nature walk!

Here the link to the public Facebook album with this morning’s photos:  A January Walk through Columbus Park.

Please let me know what you think!

 

Last of the Fall Wildflowers at Columbus Park? November 20, 2009

Earlier this year Neighborhood Nature showed the earliest examples of spring flowers we could find. Now that November’s two-thirds gone, I guess it’s time to show the last wildflowers still blooming in Columbus Park. (I’ll do my best to give their names, but bear with me — I’m not a botanist!)

It was sunny and almost warm during this morning’s bird monitoring in Columbus Park. However, some parts of the Park were devoid of birds, so I had time to look down as I listened hard for any birdlike sounds. These nickle-sized flowers caught my eye — I’m pretty sure they’re Daisy Fleabane. (You can see a photo of the entire plant here.)

I'm guessing Daisy Fleabane, Columbus Park, Chicago, November 20, 2009.

Although these look like daisies, the flowers are much too small. So I think it's Daisy Fleabane.

The small patch of prairie habitat beside the lagoon held two plants in flower. The first one looked like a very small example of Queen Anne’s Lace (aslo called Wild Carrot) — the flower head was less than two inches across. (You can see a photo that shows the leaves here. Please use the comments, below, to correct me if I’m wrong.)

I think this one is Queen Anne's Lace, Columbus Park, Chicago, November 20, 2009.

This one looked like a very small example of Queen Anne's Lace (also known as Wild Carrot).

I’m also uncertain what this plant is called. I’m guessing this might be False Dragonhead, a kind of mint. Another name for this species is Obedient Plant, since if you push the flowers to one side, they stay there until you push them back. However, I forgot the try that test today, so my identification has not been physically confirmed. Also, this flower looked more pinkish in the field — I’m not sure why the photos don’t do justice to the color. (You can see a photo of the entire plant here.)

I'm guessing this is False Dragonhead, Columbus Park, Chicago, Illinois, November 20, 2009.

I'm guessing this is False Dragonhead, a kind of mint. (Again, use the comments, below, to help me out!)

My final flowers were just hanging on — most of the others on this plant had gone to seed. It was a kind of thistle, found in Austin woods — but don’t ask me what kind of thistle, I wouldn’t have a clue. (Again, these looked more pinkish in the field. You can see a photo that shows some leaves here.):

Thistle flowers, Columbus Park, Chicago, Illinois, November 20, 2009.

A few thistle flowers remained, but the rest had gone to seed.

“Gone to seed” is where all these flowers are bound. Food for birds, and sometimes a feast for the eyes despite the lack of color. Check out these goldenrod seeds, which may be Showy Goldenrod, one of the most beautiful of its kind. (You can see a photo that shows more of the plant here.)

Gone-to-seed goldenrod, Columbus Park, Chicago, Illinois, November 20, 2009.

Even gone to seed, goldenrods are beautiful.

So, are these the last wildflowers I’ll see this year in Columbus Park? I’ll keep looking for more on future visits. (And I’ll also try to tame that possible Obedient Plant.)

 

Pokeweed Berries Ripening, Catbirds and Thrushes Coming Soon! September 3, 2009

On the first Friday in September I noticed ripe Pokeweed berries in our backyard:

These are the first ripe Pokeweed berries I've seen this year, and they are in our backyard!

These are the first ripe Pokeweed berries I've seen this year, and they are in our backyard!

Soon there will be catbirds, thrushes, and many other birds with purple-stained beaks!

Gray Catbirds have spent the last five summers in backyards on our block. They stopped defending their breeding territory weeks ago, but I’ve seen a Catbird visit our Pokeweed once or twice since then. I think they keep track of berry bushes in the neighborhood so they can be the first to feast once the berries are ripe.

Swainson’s Thrushes breed up north, and then migrate south through our area starting late summer. Yesterday I saw two in the woods at nearby Columbus Park. Last September a Swainson’s Thrush stuck around our neighbor’s yard for two weeks feeding on her Pokeweed berries. A few weeks later a Hermit Thrush stopped by to eat its fill.

One nice thing about Pokeweed is that it keeps producing berries for many weeks, September through October. In this photo you can see ripe berries and a tiny flower stalk just starting, plus all stages of flowers and green berries in between:

The ripe Pokeweed berries are hidden among the leaves. A newly opening white flower stalk is to the left and above the berries, and inbetween stages are scattered elsewhere on the plant. By the way, the oval leaves are Pokeweed; the larger heart-shaped leaves are a type of Morning Glory.

The ripe Pokeweed berries are hidden among the leaves. A newly opening white flower stalk is to the left and above the berries, and in between stages are scattered elsewhere on the plant. By the way, the oval leaves are Pokeweed; the larger heart-shaped leaves are a type of Morning Glory.

So, this fall’s backyard catbird and thrush watch starts today, and then continues for almost two months!

—–

Note added Friday, September 4, at 2 p.m.: Early this morning we saw the first bird of the season feeding on our Pokeweed. It was an American Robin (which is a kind of thrush). Then, while monitoring birds at Columbus Park (less than a mile from our house), I saw about a dozen Swainson’s Thrushes and three Catbirds. Three of the Thrushes and one of the Catbirds were feeding on Pokeweed berries.

Note added Sunday, September 6, at 3 p.m.: We just saw three Swainson’s Thrushes in our Pokeweed patch! Aaron got the following for-the-record photo through our back window:

One of the three Swainson's Thrushes we saw on our backyard Pokeweed. Photo by Aaron Gyllenhaal (shot through a sunlit back window).

One of the three Swainson's Thrushes we saw on our backyard Pokeweed. Note the olive-brown back, lots of spots on a pale breast, and big buffy "spectacles" around its eyes. Photo by Aaron Gyllenhaal (shot through a sunlit back window).

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You can find more information about Pokeweed on Wikipedia. Cooked Pokeweed greens can be eaten, but raw Pokeweed can be poisonous to humans, as described on this National Institutes of Health web page.

The All About Birds website has more information about how Gray Catbirds, Swainson’s Thrushes, and Hermit Thrushes live their lives

 

Catching up with Spring April 17, 2009

Spring is about change, and right now change is happening so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Yesterday we showed one Dwarf Iris flower and two buds — today there were three flowers:

All three Dwarf Iris buds have opened!
All three Dwarf Iris buds have opened!

The Trout Lily bud we showed two days ago has not yet opened, but more flower buds have appeared, and most bud stems are no longer nestled in protective leaves:

Most Trout Lily buds were standing free, not wrapped in protective leaves.
Most Trout Lily buds were standing free, not wrapped in protective leaves.

Two fruit trees have burst into bloom along Garfield Street, east of Ridgeland Avenue:

I'm not sure what kind of tree this is, but it did attract the first honey bee I've seen this spring.
I don’t know the name of this tree, but I think it’s an ornamental fruit.

So, some flowers are already blooming; others are catching up with their first buds of spring. Here’s a Lily of the Valley from the Oak Park Arts District, along Harrison Street:

As usual, the first Lily of the Valley buds formed along a south-facing wall.
As usual, the first Lily of the Valley buds formed along a south-facing wall.

After watching for more than a week, I finally spotted the first Virginia Bluebell of the year in Columbus Park:

Virginia Bluebell is a native wildflower, although these may have been planted by the Park District.

Virginia Bluebell is a native wildflower, although these may have been planted by the Park District.

Now let’s move from flowers to fruits, and the animals that eat them. In late February we posted photos of Staghorn Sumac fruits, which added color to the winter woods. We saw squirrels eat some sumac fruits this winter, but most remained on the trees until last week. That’s when I noticed Northern Flickers and Downy Woodpeckers eating sumac fruits. By today the sumac trees were stripped bare:

It seems the Flickers and other woodpeckers had eaten all the sumac berries. Perhaps it was for wood, but the may have also used the red sumac pigments to brighten the colors of their feathers.

Flickers and other woodpeckers ate all the sumac berries. Perhaps it was for food, or maybe they used red sumac pigments to brighten up their feathers.

Here’s more news of animals in our neighborhood: I heard my first Columbus Park Bullfrog of the spring — it croaked as it jumped into the lagoon, too fast for me to see. I also watched Painted Turtles sun themselves on lagoon logs, and I spotted my first Cabbage White Butterfly of 2009 in a meadow near Austin Boulevard. And my first Honey Bee of 2009 was feeding on the fruit tree flowers on Garfield.

Finally, back in early March we started following hummingbird migration on hummingbirds.net. According to the online map, the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds reached our area more than a week ago. We finally put out our hummingbird feeder yesterday:

Our backyard hummingbird feeder. We use a mix of one part sugar to 4 parts water, and we don't add any dye.

Our backyard hummingbird feeder. We use a mix of one part sugar to four parts water, heated to boiling, and we don't add any dye.

Why the wait? No matter what we see on hummingbirds.net, we don’t know any birders who’ve seen Ruby-throats this year in Illinois. There have been no reports on IBET, and none on eBird, either. According to eBird, last year’s earliest Ruby-throat for our County was April 27. Last year we saw our first in Columbus Park on May 23.

So, these days we don’t have much faith in hummingbirds.net. It’s possible those folks are seeing a different species — perhaps Rufous Humingbirds, which wander here in colder weather — or maybe something else is going on. Anyway, our feeder’s out, and we’ll keep it filled and fresh until next fall.

And that’s the news. We’re caught up — until the next time we walk outside. There’s sure to be some new sign of spring tomorrow!

 

Flower Buds: What’s Blooming Next? April 15, 2009

Some neighborhood plants have produced new flower buds among leaves that appeared a few days earlier. On Tuesday we found flower buds in a patch of Trout Lily leaves at Columbus Park:

The Trout Lily flower bud seems nestled in a folded leaf.

The Trout Lily flower bud seems nestled in a folded leaf.

Today we found flower buds on our neighbor’s Dwarf Iris plants:

We found a flower buds among these Dwarf Iris leaves.

We found a flower buds among these Dwarf Iris leaves.

Iris plants grow either from underground stems, called “rhizomes,” or from bulbs. Erosion has exposed the rhizomes from which these Dwarf Iris grew:

These Drawf Iris plants grew from underground stems, called rhizomes.

These Drawf Iris plants grew from underground stems, called rhizomes.

As we’ve found many times this spring, these first buds and flowers were on plants with southern exposure. The first Trout Lily buds appeared on a south-facing slope near Columbus Park lagoon, and the first Iris buds were on the south side of a parkway tree.

We should have photos of the flowers soon, since temperatures may reach seventy later this week.

—–

Note added the next day: At least one Dwarf Iris had bloomed by the next morning. Go here to see photos of the flower.

 

Leaves of Native Wildflowers Are Emerging at Columbus Park April 13, 2009

On Sunday, April 12, while birding in the woods beside Columbus Park lagoon, we discovered the emerging leaves of native wildflowers. We found the first Mayapple leaves we’ve seen this spring:

There were several stages of opening Mayapple leaves. Soon we'll see flower buds below some of the leaf umbrellas.

There were several stages of opening Mayapple leaves. Soon we'll see flower buds below some of the leaf umbrellas.

And also the first Trout Lily leaves:

The purplish marked Trout Lily leaves had emerged, but no sign of flower buds so far. This plant is also called.....

The purple-marked Trout Lily leaves had emerged, but no sign of flower buds so far.

We had seen Cutleaf Toothwort blooming earlier this spring at Clinton Lake in central Illinois, so we weren’t surprised to see both leaves and flower buds at Columbus Park:

Cut-leaved Toothwort leaves and buds, Columbus Park, Illinois, April 12, 2009.

Toothwort flowers look like tiny white teeth when they first open, and the leaves look like they've been cut out by tiny scissors.

We also made a slightly more ominous discovery. Back on March 23rd, we showed photos of a cultivated flower which we identified as Siberian Squill, but others know as Scilla (its scientific name). On Sunday we discovered that this garden flower has escaped its intended bounds and invaded the woods beside Columbus Park lagoon. Because this also happens elsewhere, Scilla is listed in the Global Compendium of Weeds and on some web documents about invasive plants. Some folks who track invasive species suggest that Scilla may not harm native wildflowers, like Trout Lily and Mayapple. But another wrote, “the jury is still out whether this is a harmless garden escapee or something to worry about.” So, we’ll keep an eye on the Park’s woodland Scilla this spring and beyond.

 

Flowers in the Snow April 6, 2009

Filed under: Plants,Seasons,Spring,Wildflowers — saltthesandbox @ 5:45 pm
Tags: , , , ,

It snowed, again, last night. It was our second spring snowfall — it also snowed eight days ago. When I took my morning walk through south Oak Park, the sidewalks were still crunchy, and globs of snow rained from the trees, even as the the skies began to clear.

The flowers, though, bloomed on, as if they barely noticed. These Periwinkles were on the south side of a home:

These Periwinkle flowers and new shoots survived despite the snow.

These Periwinkle flowers and new shoots survived despite the snow.

Our Periwinkles are on the east side of our home, so they won’t bloom for awhile.

I think of Magnolias as southern trees, but Star Magnolia bushes are planted in our area. This bloom was photographed this morning, with the temperatures in the mid thirties:

This Star Magnolia flower grows on a small buish.

Star Magnolia flowers bloom despite our cold winters and variable spring weather.

And Tulip buds promise that more spring flowers are on the way:

There were Tulip buds on the south sides of many homes along my route -- but no blooms so far.

There were Tulip buds on the south sides of many homes along my route -- but no blooms so far.

Temperatures will rise through the rest of the week, so maybe we’ll see Tulip flowers by the weekend.

—–

Nancy, who also lives in south Oak Park, took photos of her Magnolia tree after the previous snowstorm, on March 29th:

Magnolia buds in the snow during our March 29 snow storm.

Magnolia buds in the snow during our March 29 snow storm. Photo by Nancy S.

Magnolia buds in the snow. Photo by Nancy Soro.

Magnolia buds in the snow. Photo by Nancy S.

I wonder how they survived their second snowstorm of the spring?

 

Friday’s Trip: Lots of Sparrows, Lots of Distractions April 5, 2009

Friday, April 3rd, was our seventh day of Big Break Birding. The boys and I were trying to see how many kinds of birds we could see during spring break, while also lengthening our year lists for 2009. We decided to leave our neighborhood and head south in search of rare sparrows and early shorebirds.

The shorebirds were a bust — Killdeer was the only kind we saw. However, we saw 15 different kinds of sparrows — including rare ones like Harris’s Sparrow and Le Conte’s Sparrow — at some unlikely sounding places, including a sod farm, an organic basil farm, a swine research facility, and a graveyard fencerow. (See the bottom of this post for details.)

Unfortunately, most sparrows don’t sit still to get their photos taken. Ethan was lucky to get this photo of a Vesper Sparrow out the car window:

Vesper Sparrow posing on a stalk of corn stubble in a field near Clinton Lake, Illinois. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Vesper Sparrow posing on a stalk of corn stubble in a field near Clinton Lake, Illinois. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

This Eastern Towhee was less cooperative — it’s partially blocked by twigs:

This Eastern Towhee was watching us from a small tree at the University of Illinois Swine Research Unit.

This Eastern Towhee was watching us from a small tree at the University of Illinois Swine Research Unit. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Eastern Meadowlarks are a kind of blackbird, not a sparrow, but they pose well for a camera:

Eastern Meadowlark in a sod farm field near Momence, Illinois. Photograph by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Eastern Meadowlark in a sod farm field near Momence, Illinois. Photograph by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

By late afternoon we had reached Clinton Lake in central Illinois. We were running out of new birds to see, so we allowed ourselves to be distracted by other things, like plants and mammals. We found lots of beaver-chewed stumps and logs near the spillway:

Beavers cut this tree and then ate the bark off the fallen log. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Beavers cut this tree and then ate the bark off the fallen log. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

The beavers here cut down trees for food but live in the river banks below the human-built dam, rather than building a dam of their own.

One advantage of traveling south is you get to see spring flowers days or weeks before they bloom near our home. These Dutchman’s Breeches were particularly beautiful:

Whoever named this plant thought the flowers looked like a Dutch man's pants, hanging upside down.

"Breeches" are pants -- whoever named this plant thought the flowers looked like a Dutchman's pants, hanging upside down. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

I taught the boys a trick with a woodland plant called Bedstraw — it sticks to almost anything:

Bedstraw stuck to Aaron's shirt. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Bedstraw stuck to Aaron's shirt. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Bedstraw stuck to Aaron's hair. (Aron looks like he's deciding where to stick the Bedstraw next.) Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Bedstraw stuck to Aaron's hair. (Aaron looks like he's deciding where to stick the Bedstraw next.) Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Tricks aside, sometimes all you need to enjoy the outdoors is a few dead leaves floating in a lake:

Leaves on Lake. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

Leaves on Lake. Photo by Ethan Gyllenhaal.

We ended the day with 112 species on our Big Break Birding list and 145 species on Aaron’s 2009 year list.

—–

Just for the record, here’s a post we submitted to IBET, the Illinois birders’ email list. It provides details about where we went and what we saw:

Subject: IBET HARRIS’S and LE CONTE’S SPARROWS still at the U of I swine farms
From: Eric Gyllenhaal
Date: Sat, 04 Apr 2009 14:04:08 -0000

The boys and I headed south from Oak Park in search of sparrows and early shorebirds. We got 15 species of sparrows, but no shorebirds other than Killdeer.

The fields near H & E Sod Farms, east of Momence, Illinois, held 3 VESPER SPARROWS (along 1250N) and a dozen LAPLAND LONGSPURS, plus a few AMERICAN PIPITS (in the bare field northeast of the intersection of 1250N and 13500E).

The Urbana Swine Research facility, on Hazelwood just east of 1st St., held the greatest diversity of sparrows. The HARRIS’S SPARROW was in a large brush pile just east of the buildings, and the LE CONTE’S was in a brushy field north of the road. Other sparrows here: Eastern Towhee, American Tree, Field, Savannah, Fox, Song, Swamp, plus lots of White-crowned and Dark-eyed Juncos, plus several Brown Thrashers. To get Chipping and White-throated Sparrows, we drove what Google Map’s calls Grffith Drive, south of St. Mary’s Rd. on the northwest side of the research park. There were also lots of other sparrows along this lane, including an Oregon-type Junco and more Towhees.

We then headed west for our first-ever visit to Clinton Lake. Best finds: First-of-year Rough-winged Swallows south of the spillway, and dozens of Bonaparte’s Gulls and a few Common Loons seen from westside access points. There were also a few hundred ducks seen in the far distance, along and east of the dam. They looked like mostly Scaup, with some Bufflehead, Redheads, and probably other species.

Our species count for Spring Break so far: 112 species.

Eric, Ethan, and Aaron Gyllenhaal
Oak Park, Cook County, Illinois

 

Nature News: Bursting Buds and Tame Wildflowers March 26, 2009

Filed under: Cultivated Flowers,People,Plants,Seasons,Spring,Wildflowers — saltthesandbox @ 4:07 pm
Tags: , , , ,

In our neighborhood, the last few days have been cool, often cloudy, and sometimes rainy. Searching the streets of south Oak Park turned up a few spring bulbs about to burst into bloom. As usual, the flowers on the sunnier south sides of homes were further along:

This patch of Hyacinth has several stages of buds, from tightly closed green ones to colorful buds beginning to burst.

This patch of Hyacinth has several stages of buds, from tightly closed green ones to colorful buds beginning to burst.

At several other homes, larger Daffodil plants were beginning to catch up to the Miniature Daffodils we photographed last week for Gail’s birthday — they weren’t blooming yet, but they were getting close:

These Daffodil buds were also almost ready to bloom.

These Daffodil buds were almost ready to bloom.

Go here to see what Daffodil buds looked like a week ago, when they first emerged from the soil (see the bottom of the post).

I was inspired by the almost-opened buds, so this morning I checked a secluded corner of our back yard, against a south-facing wooden fence. Guess what I found? The Miniature Daffodils we bought last year for Gail’s birthday also were beginning to open. As the day progressed with intermittent sun, four buds finally bloomed:

Gail's 2008 potted Daffodils bloomed in our garden in 2009!

Gail's 2008 potted Daffodils bloomed in our back garden in 2009!

We bought these flowers as part of the American Cancer Society’s 2008 Daffodil Days. (The 2009 Daffodil Days just ended.)

I guess birthday flowers that support a good cause should be my favorite flowers of the spring so far, but they’re not. My favorites are some spring wildflowers living the tame life in a street-side garden near Maple Park. They’re Bloodroot, a common woodland wildflower that I was surprised to find in this residential neighborhood:

The Bloodroots flower stalks are wrapped in leaves when they first emerge from the soil.

Bloodroot flower stalks are wrapped in leaves when they first emerge from the soil.

Like many North American wildflowers, Bloodroot was used as medicine and more by Native Americans. For me, it’s a reminder that I need to get to an old-growth woodland soon!

For tomorrow I’ll have good news and bad news to share. Tree flowers are back, some for better, and some for worse.

 

Nature News from Columbus Park: New Bird, New Flower, New Burns March 23, 2009

On my first day back from Circle Pines, I took an exercise walk to Columbus Park to monitor birds and other forms of nature.

The new bird of the day was a Belted Kingfisher patrolling the lagoon, flying back and forth and making its rattling call. Last year Kingfishers visited Columbus Park in early spring and later in the summer, but went elsewhere to nest. Some Kingfishers stick around Illinois all winter if there’s open water to dive and catch their fish, but last year they left the Park in late October. (Our other bird sightings from the Park are summarized on this page.)

The new flower is a cultivated plant in the shaded garden by Refectory pool. The flowers lent a bluish cast to the green carpet of leaves:

The deep green leaves and blue flowers carpeted the garden near the Refectory pool.

The deep green leaves and blue flowers carpeted a garden near the Refectory pool.

A closer look revealed droopy flowers that looked a bit like a Snowdrops but were intensely blue. Also the leaves were broader and darker green than Snowdrops:

Up close, the flowers where shaped a bit like Snowdrops, but were intensely blue in color.

Up close the flowers were shaped a bit like Snowdrops, but were intensely blue.

I’m no expert on cultivated plants, so I Googled a preliminary identification. My best guess is Siberian Squill — not as poetic as “Snowdrops,” but that seems to be its name. (If you know your flowers, please comment below to correct or confirm my identification.)

Two areas of the Park had prescribed burns this year. The burns were intentionally set fires designed to improve habitats for native plants and animals. The fires must have been set after my visit to the Park on Friday morning and were closely monitored so they didn’t spread too far. One burn was in the restored prairie on the large peninsula, between the arms of the lagoon. The other burn was in the woodland just west of the lagoon. Here’s what the burned prairie looked like:

The blackened area in "peninsula prairie" was burned by land managers to maintain the native grasses and wildflowers.

The blackened area was burned by land managers to protect native grasses and wildflowers from invading shrubs and trees.

Looking closer, patches of prairie grass and dried wildflowers remained:

Some patches of unburned grass remain. The box on a pole is a shelter for bats, recently installed.

The prescribed burn on the "peninsula prairie" left some patches of unburned grass. (The box on a pole is a shelter for bats, recently installed.)

This field, which we call “peninsula prairie,” grows native grasses, sedges, and summer wildflowers. It attracts migrating birds rare elsewhere in our neighborhood, like Lincoln’s and Clay-colored Sparrows. (Obscure sparrows like these both delight and frustrate beginning birders.) Without periodic burning, willows and other woody plants might overwhelm the prairie, and we’d lose the native plants and birds. So far, so good with this round of burning. I heard a male Song Sparrow singing, claiming the blackened ground. An Eastern Phoebe searched for flying insects above the burn, and Dark-eyed Juncos foraged on the edges. We’ll watch the prairie through spring and summer to see how plants and other birds respond.

The second burn was something new. The “lagoon woodland,” as we call it, has lots of oaks and other trees, an understory of shrubs, but few native wildflowers. Without plants covering the ground, fallen leaves blow away, leaving bare soil to erode. The burn seems designed to “open up” the woods, so sun-loving native grass and flowers can flourish:

In the woodland west of the lagoon, the groundcover and shrubs were burned, but the trees were not.

In the woodland west of the lagoon, the ground cover and bases of the shrubs were burned, but the trees were not harmed.

Again, so far so good. Today I saw and heard Cardinals, Juncos, and Phoebes in the woods, and a Swamp Sparrow at the water’s edge. I’m excited to see what happens to the plants — we’ll watch this growing season and next to see how things change. Ethan will record the changing plants, birds, butterflies, and bugs with his new camera.

So, that’s the news from Columbus Park. Tomorrow we’ll update you on spring in south Oak Park.