A turkey vulture with wings open perched on a rock

Rob Kanter

June 08, 2017

Appreciating Turkey Vultures

If you watch the sky in warm weather, you’re likely to see large, soaring birds from time to time. In our part of the country, most of those large soaring birds you’ll see are turkey vultures, which you can recognize from a long way off without help from binoculars or a field guide.


Eastern Cottontail on hind legs in a field

Rob Kanter

June 01, 2017

Coexisting with Cottontails

Some people love rabbits. “Soooo cute!!! More bunnies please,” was the response from one friend when I posted a rabbit picture online recently. More people, perhaps, have mixed feelings about them. “Love bunnies, but baby just ate a large butterfly milkweed I bought a few days ago,” added another friend. There are also among us plenty of people who look at rabbits pretty much the same way Elmer Fudd looks at Bugs Bunny; some 60,000 Illinois residents hunt rabbits.


Sandhill Cranes in Flight against a sunset

Rob Kanter

October 20, 2016

November brings sandhill crane spectacle to northwest Indiana

Sandhill cranes that breed in the upper Midwest and central Canada begin gathering in Indiana near the end of September, and their numbers grow until mid- to late November, when they peak at about 20,000. Imagine 20,000 of these majestic birds together in the same place less than half a day’s drive from Champaign-Urbana.


A gray squirrel eats an acorn in a Chinkapin oak tree

Rob Kanter

September 08, 2016

An Ecological Look at Acorns

Acorns are everywhere in the fall, as anyone who bicycles where there are oaks can attest. While these seeds may be a minor annoyance on the road, they’re much more interesting and important from an ecological perspective.


A cicada on a tree trunk

Rob Kanter

July 23, 2015

Annual cicadas enliven dog days with love song

Even if the summer heat has limited your time outdoors, I bet you’re still hearing a familiar insect song. It’s the mating call of dog day cicadas, loud enough to rise above the drone of air conditioners and so persistent and widespread that it's almost unmissable


Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar on a branch

Rob Kanter

May 07, 2015

Landscaping for wildlife with native plants

At last year’s plant sale by the conservation group Grand Prairie Friends, nearly 1,400 milkweed seedlings were sold. Why all the milkweed?  It’s the only genus of plants on which the caterpillars of monarch butterflies feed and develop. Knowing that monarch populations are in trouble, people here and across the country are doing what they can to create monarch havens in their own back yards.


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