The Sky Dance of the Male Woodcock

April 1st, 2nd & 3rd, starting 7:00pm
@ the Historic Prairie House, 11225 Constitution Drive, Westchester


Join us on the deck of the Prairie House as we listen for the persistent peenting of the male Woodcock and then watch as he ascends high in the sky, then dramatically returns performing a daring fast downward zig zag spiral and at the last moment, pulls back and lands on the spot where he started. This daring flight is performed in hopes of impressing a potential mate. Wolf Road Prairie is one of the few places in Cook County where this twilight courtship can be seen.

Zoom Safari

Sunday, March 28, 1:00 PM
@Zoom


World Traveler and wildlife photographer, Rick Schoenfield, will guide you into the wilds of Africa and South America. He will be sharing both his adventures and his professional photographs.

Highlighting: Jaguars, Great River Otters, Lions, Cheetahs and Gorillas.

To sign up for this free event, confirm that you plan to attend by sending an email to: wrp.stps@gmail.com with Zoom Safari as your subject.

Your email address  is all that is needed to register. You will receive your Zoom Safari log-in information by way of email the day before the event. On the 28th, as 1:00 PM approaches, sign in as instructed and you will enter a virtual waiting room.

Please fill free to forward this information to anyone you think may be interested in attending.

Winter at the Prairie

These photos help us to imagine what it must have been like for early pioneers coping with a major snowstorm, especially for those who lived quite a distance from their nearest neighbors.
Survival required self-reliance, endurance and knowhow.

Photos by Lawrence Godson, President of Save The Prairie Society.

How do our winter birds survive?

North Winds, Freezing Temps
No hats, gloves, nor heated homes.
How do our winter birds survive?

  • In the fall, winter birds add on a layer of fat by increasing their normal intake of food. Some of them also grow more feathers.
  • Because birds have a higher metabolism than we do, they also have a higher body temperature. The average is around 105 degrees.
  • Their feathers equip them with a very effective form of insulation, and fluffing out their feathers enhances the feathers ability to insulate.
  • Birds have an oil gland just above their tail, they use this oil to waterproof their feathers, while adding more insulation.
  • Specialized scales cover their legs and feet, minimizing heat loss.
  • Their ability to constrict blood flow to their extremities, enables them to control the temperature in their legs and feet, without effecting the temperature of the rest of their body.
  • To protect their legs, they will stand on one leg or cover both by crouching down.
  • If it is a sunny day, birds take advantage of it by exposing the largest part of their bodies, their backs, to the sun. Then they raise their feathers just enough to expose both skin and feathers, thus allowing them to absorb the sun’s warmth.
  • During the night, small birds will sometimes share body heat by crowding together.

So don’t be surprised after an especially cold night, to hear bird chatter in the morning.

Reference: Chicago Audubon Society

With all these survival strategies, birds can still use a helping hand. Feed them and provide water, if you can.

 

A Deer’s Ears: A Natural Satellite Dish

Leisurely wondering the sidewalks and paths of Wolf Road Prairie, you might be lucky and encounter a deer. If the deer is at a safe distance from you, chances are that the deer will hold its ground, steadily staring right at you. Maybe it is sizing you up, perhaps it is just curious. Such an encounter allowed photographer Vito Martinez to capture the beautiful dignity of this Wolf Road Prairie deer. Notice the size of its ears and their taunt alert position. Those attractive looking ears are part of the deer’s defense mechanisms.

The next time you spot a deer at a distance, one that is not paying any attention to you, throw a small object to the left or right of the deer. Standing still, the deer will rotate its flexible ears independently of one another without moving its head. These large funnel shaped ears can effectively scan the air, tuning into sounds all around it. This enables them to pinpoint both the distance and direction of a sound with amazing accuracy. Hunters believe it is the out-of-place sound for which the deer are listening. They will ignore the familiar sound of a squirrel or a raccoon. Field studies have led naturalists to theorize that it is also an effective way for the deer to keep tract of one another. If that is true, then the noises they make while moving around is their own form of Twitter.

Reference: University of Georgia’s Forestry Service 2018.

Group Workdays on Hiatus

Due to COVID, the county has suspended group workdays. We’ll keep you posted on when the weekly workdays can safely resume.

In the meantime, please have a warm and safe holidays!


Winter, time to hunker down. The first inhabitants of the
Prairie House would have, by now, filled their root cellar
with dried beans, a sack of salt, potatoes, beets, carrots,
dried fruits, and jerky. They would depend on the deer
and other wild critters for meat.

The Prairie House has a covered opening in its floor
which once led to a root cellar.

Weekly Open House

Sundays, 1:00-3:00pm
@ the Historic Prairie House, 11225 Constitution Drive, Westchester
Masks required


Westchester’s Oldest House: an 1853 Midwest Farmhouse surrounded by native prairie. What Lies Within? A Hand-hewed timber framed schoolhouse and adjacent teacher’s quarters. Historic artifacts & original documents.

Matching Grant Opportunity

Save the Prairie Society is undergoing a match grant and the opportunity is almost up! We’re at about $1,500 of the maximum $2,500. Meaning that if we (you and us, together) can reach $2,500, the amount is matched for a whopping total of $5,000!!!

If you donate any amount to the match grant in a check or enveloped cash, written out to Save the Prairie Society and sent to 11225 Constitution Dr., Westchester, IL, one of our members will match the amount donated. That means that any amount you donate is automatically DOUBLED and you help us TWICE as much as you are able, by default. This match grant is going to help us in commissioning our restoration efforts to ecological contractors so that our time and energy can be more focused and less thin-spread. It’s a huge aid to us and means a ton to our efforts! Especially in this time when money is tight for most people.

We thank you dearly in advance. If you have any amount you’re willing to donate, write up that check and send it to us. I will update this post with any other means of donation applicable to the match grant. And as always, we graciously except all other forms of donation as well, at any time.

Thanks for all of your support. It allows us to continue restoring this important and functional ecosystem that benefits you even if you never step foot it in (for more info on that, check out the latest Wyatt E Coyote video on Facebook). We need these environments and these environments need you!

Please share this post, get the word out!

Insect Safari

Sunday, September 20, 2:00pm
@ the Historic Prairie House, 11225 Constitution Drive, Westchester
$5 for adults, children free


Join in the fun, help find a variety of insects at Wolf Road Prairie. Sturdy shoes and long pants advised.
Later, on the porch of the Prairie House, we will release the insects back onto the prairie.
For those who do not wish to go out onto the prairie, there will be an insect display in the Prairie House.