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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Great Horned Owl Takes Shelter

Jarrett Prairie Reserve, Byron Illinois
Wind thunders across the North American prairie. During the night, tornado warnings kept everyone on edge. The next morning the wind still had a strong hand, but it was a fraction of what it had been. The perfect time to go for a walk and experience an Earth Minute.


Can you spot the camouflaged owl in the tree?
I came across a great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) sheltering from the stormy weather.

It had its back to me the whole time.

The North American tall grass prairie is a vanishing habitat. Jarrett Prairie Reserve offers a wonderful opportunity to experience tall grass prairie, even the butterflies of Illinois.

Find other natural areas to experience wildlife in California and around the world.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Butterflies in Illinois

Red Admiral butterfly
Discover the variety of butterflies on an Illinois summer day. 


Most of these delicate beauties were all seen on one multi-trunked tree in the moments following a summer rain shower at White Pines Forest State Park.

They have great names:
  • Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
  • Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
  • Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)
  • Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
  • Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)
Atlantis fritillary
The Atlantis fritillary (Speyeria atlantis) and Monarch (Danaus plexippus) are more grassland butterflies and were spotted in the tall grass prairie. Experience Jarrett Prairie Reserve in Byron, IL. 

Hear more midwestern insects Train Crossing in Illinois - Listen to August.

See more Earth Minutes with insects (from Australian green tree ants to Valley Carpenter bees)

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Dawn on the Illinois Prairie - Jarrett Prairie Center

big bluestem grass and St. Catherine's lace
When you think of prairie do you think of giant grass taller than a human? 

Flowers reaching up above your head?

You should.

Take a dawn stroll through the Illinois tallgrass prairie.


even the pollen on big bluestem grass (Andropogon gerardi) is huge
Tallgrass prairie once stretched across North America's northern, central plains. But this land of the bison also offered prime agricultural soil. Most of our tallgrass prairie disappeared under a plow over the last 200 years.

Fortunately, a number of farm families are preserving areas of tallgrass prairie, sections that were never plowed or only slightly used for agriculture. Some individuals are passing on this heritage by willing parcels of land to conservation groups. 

The Jarrett Prairie Reserve and Center in Byron, Illinois, is a shining example of preservation, restoration, and conservation. Here you can experience a taste of tall grass. Listen to it whisper in the breeze and watch it come to life with the animal species that have returned to this oasis of habitat.

red-headed woodpecker in dawn light
On my morning bird-watching hike, I saw:
Canada geese
turkey vulture
Cooper's hawks
bald eagle (on the Rock River)
ruby-throated hummingbird
northern flicker
olive-sided flycatcher
eastern phoebe
warbling vireo
American crow
barn swallow
house wren
blue-gray gnatcatcher
American robin
gray catbird
European starling
cedar waxwing
chipping sparrow
field sparrow
northern cardinal
indigo bunting
red-winged blackbird
house fince
American goldfinch

Hear sounds of Illinois
More locations to see wildlife
Wildflowers of southern CA; Santa Cruz Island, CARedwoods National Park, CA; Wyoming.

Where will you find your Earth Minute 
this week?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Water for Hot Summer Bees

Provide Backyard Water for Hot Summer Bees!
A birdbath is an important stopover place 
for water-stressed birds and bees.

In dry Southern California, fresh water is at a premium. 


Listen to the bees thank you for the water! 


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