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“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”⠀ ⠀ ~ John Muir⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday

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Need a moment to relax? Enjoy this peaceful moment along the shores of Songbird Slough in Itasca. The 390-acre Songbird Slough Forest Preserve is one of the county's most popular destination for birders and anglers.⠀ ⠀ More on Songbird Slough: https://bit.ly/3uB1ZNP

"If you stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable."⠀ ⠀ ~ Rainer Maria Rilkel⠀ ⠀ #HappyFriday

Our Willowbrook Patient of the Week . Willowbrook's patients of the week are patients no more! They released 37 animals the first week of April! Some were baby raccoons from last fall that couldn't be released before winter have been waiting the longest. Many others were migratory bird species that were with us for a much shorter stay. And a couple aquatic mammals were returned to their wetland homes. . Here’s the list: 7 raccoons, 4 brown creepers, 3 American woodcocks, 3 dark-eyed juncos, 2 red-tailed hawks, 2 opossums, and one each of the following: American coot, American kestrel, belted kingfisher, Canada goose, fox sparrow, golden-crowned kinglet, great horned owl, mink, mourning dove, muskrat, mute swan, ring-billed gull, savannah sparrow, song sparrow, Virginia rail, and yellow-shafted flicker. . In addition, that week Willowbrook returned 9 great horned owlets back to their original nest sites and parents after high winds or poor-quality nests caused them to fall out. It is so much better for these babies to be raised by wild owl parents than here with us. . Pictured are great horned owlets about to be returned to their parents and original nest site after checking out healthy; a Virginia rail getting an exam upon arrival; and the fall baby raccoon crew in Willowbrook's outdoor raccoon enclosure. Good luck to all these recovered patients as they explore their newfound freedom in a DuPage County forest preserve! . #patientoftheweek #wildliferelease #dupageforest #nature #wowplanet #enjoyillinois #animal_captures #explore_wildlife #natgeo #in2nature #preservenature #ILNature #wildliferehab #wildlifeconservation #willowbrook #discoverwildlife #wildlifeplanet #NatureFacts #NatureNearYou

Our native plant of the week is royal catchfly (Silene regia). ⠀ ⠀ Royal catchfly’s vibrant, red color and star-shaped blooms make it a rare beauty of the prairie. If you’re looking to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, this plant is a perfect candidate. Most prairie plants have evolved to entice bees to pollinate their flowers. Not royal catchfly! Its long, tubular flowers are too deep for bees but not for hummingbirds or large butterflies, which can reach the nectar at the base of its flowers. ⠀ ⠀ This is a species not commonly found in the county and is a treat if found. ⠀ ⠀ ~ Abby Dean, environmental interpreter⠀ ⠀ Photo ©Jeff Bryant

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Let's take a moment to celebrate the beaver on International Beaver Day today! Beavers are aquatic mammals that can spend up to 15 minutes underwater. ⠀ ⠀ Beavers build dams out of tree branches that create ponds, creating irreplaceable habitat for other wild animals. This makes them a "keystone species."

Spring peepers are the county’s smallest frogs; an adult can fit easily on the face of a nickel. These brown frogs have distinctive “X” marks on their backs, but their size makes them nearly impossible to see in the wild. ⠀ ⠀ #NationalFrogMonth

Folks, a gentle reminder to refrain from collecting or harvesting edible plants (like this wild leek) or fungi from the forest preserves. It’s illegal, endangers the plants, and prevents other visitors from enjoying our natural heritage.

"All nature is but art, unknown to thee."⠀ ⠀ ~ Alexander Pope⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday

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There’s no denying the sounds of spring (or the calming effect of flowing water) in this week’s Scenic Sunday at Spring Brook at Blackwell forest preserve.

“To walk through nature is to witness a thousand miracles.”⠀ ⠀ ~ Mary Davis⠀ ⠀ #HappyFriday

Rita Guill credits her mother for instilling her with a love of nature. She and her husband, John, are carrying on that tradition with their own kids.⠀ ⠀ "My favorite thing to do in the preserves is to take a walk with my dogs and children and admire whatever season it is in all its glory," she said.

***Our Willowbrook Patient of the Week***⠀⠀ ⠀ On March 11, Willowbrook admitted a somewhat unusual case – a raccoon with suspected electrocution burns. This young adult male raccoon was living injured underneath a deck until he was trapped by the homeowner. He noticed the injuries and brought him to Willowbrook for evaluation and treatment.⠀ ⠀ We realize that there can be wildlife conflicts in and around the home. We try to educate people on how to deal with situations like this in the best and most humane way. Trapping a wild animal is not recommended in most situations and in many cases is also illegal without the proper permits. We recommend using deterrent and exclusion techniques, which are a safe and less costly way for homeowners to get a wild animal to move out of an undesirable space. ⠀ ⠀ On arrival to Willowbrook, this raccoon had multiple wounds over his front legs, face, and tongue. His fur also had a singed appearance. While true electrocution injuries are rare because most power lines have a protective covering (which is one of the reasons why birds can perch on them), if wires are damaged or bitten into, they can cause electrocution. ⠀ ⠀ In this case, we suspect this raccoon tried to enter an area with an electric fence (like some people have around their backyard enclosures for chickens and small animals), but we'll never know for sure what happened.⠀ ⠀ Thankfully, he's been a quick healer, and his wounds have healed up beautifully! Now we're just waiting for a little bit of his fur to grow back before releasing him back into the wild!⠀ ⠀ #patientoftheweek #raccoon

“Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.”⠀ ⠀ ~ John Muir⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday

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Have you herd? We’re just going to call this week’s post “Sheepish Sunday” (instead of “Scenic Sunday”) and let these lambs speak for themselves. 🐑

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.⠀ ⠀ ~ e.e. cummings⠀ ⠀ #HappyFriday

***Our Willowbrook Patient of the Week***⠀ ⠀ Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are not overly abundant in Illinois, nor does every rehabber specialize in all species or all treatment types. Willowbrook is lucky to have the backing of the DuPage Forest Preserve District and can take in a larger volume of patients and more intensive traumas than private rehabilitators, many of which can focus on neonatal care for orphans by providing 24-hour care. There is often a lot of behind-the-scenes conversations to find the best place for a particular patient to receive care. When Willowbrook received its first baby of spring — a few-days-old coyote — we felt it would be in the pup's best interest to get her to a private rehabber who could provide around-the-clock feeding. Thankfully our friends at Oaken Acres Wildlife Center happily took her in. Similarly, when they got a call about an adult mink that was hit by a car, they referred the rescuer to us. It’s a great working relationship that connects wildlife in need with the best resources available.⠀ ⠀ American minks are a species we don’t see all that often. They aren’t a rare species in DuPage County, but they are fairly secretive as they navigate nocturnally along creeks, rivers, and wetlands, hunting all kinds of prey such as small- to medium-sized mammals, fish, birds, frogs, crayfish, and invertebrates. For their size, they are quite successful predators — a mink cache discovered in Illinois included 13 muskrats, 2 mallards, and a coot!⠀ ⠀ This adult male mink was found on the side of a road, the victim of a car collision. He suffered head trauma and a broken canine tooth. Being part of the weasel family, minks are usually quite active and evasive, but this guy was quiet, dull, and curled into a ball when he arrived. He spent his first day here in an oxygen chamber, but has since improved over the last couple of days and is showing glimmers of normal mink behaviors. He will need skull X-rays to rule out further trauma to his teeth and jaws, and more time to heal as his appetite has been low since intake. We’re hoping to see signs of that voracious appetite and attitude soon!⠀ ⠀ #patientoftheweek #americanmink

“Spring is when life’s alive in everything.”⠀ ⠀ ~ Christina Rossetti⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday

“Spring is nature's way of saying, Let's party!”⠀ ⠀ ~ Robin Williams⠀ ⠀ #HappyFriday⠀ ⠀ Photo ©Tristan Schramer

Henry Kim is a lifelong DuPage County resident who has found many ways to connect to nature.⠀ ⠀ "Be patient and observe with no expectations, and you may discover something new that you can learn to appreciate, something that you may not have noticed before," he said.⠀ ⠀ https://buff.ly/38SJjkp

***Our Willowbrook Patient of the Week ***⠀ ⠀ Spring has finally sprung! While babies are always a good indication that spring is in the air, migratory bird arrivals are further proof.⠀ ⠀ American woodcocks are some of the first migrants we see in this area. Well camouflaged for their secretive forest lifestyle, these odd-looking birds have long beaks they probe into the soft earth looking for worms and other insects. The males can be seen practicing their spring mating displays at dusk — a spiraling flight punctuated with twittering sounds as the wind passes through their flight feathers. You can also hear their “peent” calls as they search for mates.⠀ ⠀ Unfortunately, most of the injured woodcock patients we see are due to window collisions, and our current patient of the week is no exception. A little over a week ago, Willowbrook received its first woodcock patient of the year from our friends at the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. He or she had large corneal ulcers in both eyes (a very common injury due to the sheer size of their eyeballs), a head wound, and a wing hike, a classic sign of trauma to the shoulder region. Instead of the wing drooping, the shoulder itself droops, forcing the tips of the primary and secondary feathers to tilt upward. The patient underwent anesthesia for x-rays and surgical repair of the head wound. As expected, there was also a fracture of the left clavicle. A tape wrap will be in place for the next couple of weeks to allow the fracture to heal. ⠀ ⠀ As a prey species, woodcocks are notoriously high-strung birds, making it challenging for them to thrive in captivity. Thankfully, this guy started eating almost immediately after intake — a diet almost entirely of live worms! ⠀ ⠀ #patientoftheweek #americanwoodcock

"In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours."⠀ ⠀ ~ Mark Twain⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday

Soak up some rays and give thanks to the sun; it's Solar Appreciation Day! It's a great opportunity to take a moment to appreciate all the benefits we get from our closest star!⠀ https://buff.ly/3l8OXnk

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”⠀ .⠀ ~ John Muir⠀ .⠀ #HappyFriday #getoutthere

***Our Patient of the Week***⠀ .⠀ While wintertime is usually the slowest period for intakes, it is the busiest time for trauma and disease cases (instead of orphaned neonates or juveniles), especially in adult waterfowl and raptors. Over the last week, our veterinary clinic staff have performed numerous surgeries – fixing 4 bones (on 2 birds), correcting a luxated clavicle with a novel surgical procedure, removing multiple gunshot pellets, amputating a toe, and multiple other minor procedures. Our patients are lucky to benefit from a staff veterinarian and technician as well as many clinic volunteers!⠀ .⠀ We more commonly see red-tailed hawks in our area, however we have admitted more red-shouldered hawks in recent times than most of us can remember. Difficult to tell apart from other hawk species as juveniles, as adults they are beautiful hawks with red streaking on their chest and over the shoulder. They also have really cool black-and-white checkered secondary flight feathers, and a boldly banded tail to help identify them. While it's difficult to tell from afar, they are usually about 2/3 the size (by weight) of a red-tailed hawk.⠀ .⠀ While some Canada geese migrate, many do not, at least in this area. There are many different subspecies of Canada geese and our most abundant type, the common Canada goose (also the largest of the subspecies) are very well adapted to sticking around Illinois throughout the winter. Illinois has also changed the landscape to make it very easy for geese to stay -- lots of open grassy areas and manmade wetlands that are safe for them.⠀ .⠀ Here’s hoping all these efforts turn into releases for these injured birds. But they also have provided our clinic team with invaluable experiences to continue to provide the best patient care possible!⠀ .⠀ #patientofthweek #redshoulderedhawk #canadagoose

Need a midweek reason to smile? If you work 9 to 5 (and are working outside of the home), you'll no longer be leaving work in the dark! The sun will set at 5:02 p.m. today! And if you're working from home, take time to get out from behind your computer screen and enjoy the sunset! 🌅

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay, an invincible summer."⠀ ⠀ ~ Albert Camus⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday

"There is a grandeur in winter, stern and wild it may be, but a grandeur which speaks to the soul."⠀ ⠀ ~ C. J. Peterson⠀ ⠀ #HappyFriday

***Our Willowbrook Patient of the Week***⠀ .⠀ Quite a few reptiles and amphibians are spending their winter with us. As cold-blooded creatures, these animals can’t be released until the weather warms up in the spring.⠀ .⠀ Some of these patients have been with us for many months, healing from a variety of issues. By keeping them awake and warm all winter, we are giving their bodies time to continue healing. Or in the case of a few, time to put on some weight. If they are cooled down to the point of hibernation, those important biological processes would be halted.⠀ .⠀ On the other hand, hibernation is important for herps to mimic natural cycles. If injuries have healed enough, but temps are too cold for release, we assist them into hibernation on-site. In fact, we have an entire refrigerator dedicated to this purpose! Others are perfectly healthy but were found in the wrong place at the wrong time and need a safe place to stay. This isn’t a quick undertaking — it’s about a monthlong process of cooling and decreasing food intake until they are ready, and then reversing that in the spring.⠀ .⠀ Of course, one of our favorite jobs is to release them back into the wild. It feels even sweeter when it's a patient we've cared for through many months of rehabilitation. Even though it's cold now, the countdown is on for these reptiles and amphibians to be returned to their natural habitats in a DuPage County forest preserve!⠀ .⠀ #patientofthweek #reptiles #amphibians

Who's out enjoying the "apricity"? Ahh! 🌞

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated.“⠀ ⠀ ~ Martin Luther King Jr.⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday #martinlutherking

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This week’s Scenic Sunday gives us a look across Salt Creek at Salt Creek Park Forest Preserve. There’s something so mesmerizing about the trees’ reflection on the water. Enjoy!

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” ⠀ ⠀ ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley⠀ ⠀ #HappyFriday

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."⠀ ⠀ ~ John Burroughs⠀ ⠀ #HappyMonday

"Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before."⠀ ⠀ ~ Dalai Lama⠀ ⠀ #HappyFriday #newyear #goals #warrenvillegrove

Happy #NationalBirdDay! Let's celebrate by showing some love to our feathered friends: dupageforest.org/blog/help-birds-survive-winter⠀ ⠀ Photo © NPS N. Lewis

Let's hear from the "chionophiles"! What are your winter favorites in the DuPage forest preserves?

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, 'Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'"⠀ .⠀ ~ Lewis Carroll⠀ .⠀ #HappyMonday #winterwonderland

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”⠀ .⠀ ~ Rainer Maria Rilke⠀ .⠀ #HappyFriday #newyear #2021