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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?

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