On the line of fire at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge

A November 2017 Field Note by Phoebe Thatcher, TWI Development & Communications Assistant and fire enthusiast

For the Wetlands Initiative’s Rick Seibert and his crew, fighting invasive species at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge can be an uphill battle. Fortunately, TWI has a powerful ally in the form of fire. Despite what Smokey the Bear told us about forest fires, modern ecologists have found that regular burns are not just beneficial, but necessary, for the management of healthy prairies and wetlands.

New Hickory Hollow restoration is taking wing

A December 2016 Field Note by Vera Leopold, TWI Grants Manager/Development Associate and avid birder

Walking along the dry streambed beneath large sycamore trees, a sweet, lazily descending warble high above me suddenly arrested my attention. Just as I stopped and looked overhead, a tiny, brightly colored bird zoomed down to a low branch near me to inspect the intruder. It was a male Yellow-throated Warbler, the owner of the song and holding a caterpillar in his bill, no less—evidence of nesting for this species more commonly found in southern Illinois.

A particularly saturated summer at Midewin

A July 2015 Field Note by Kirsten Rothenbucher, Initiative Intern

In Wilmington, Illinois, it is normal for June and July to be the months in which the most rainfall occurs. That being said, during my summer working on TWI’s restoration projects at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, it seemed like every other day there was a downpour of some sort. It is safe to say that a capricious climate with intermittent inundation also affects the wildlife, dams, and habitat of a prairie/wetland, but how so?

Looking for ‘Uppies’ and butcherbirds at Midewin

A July 2014 Field Note by TWI Grants Manager (and birder) Vera Leopold

It was about 6:45 a.m. on a bright, chilly morning in early May. We were walking between long rows of abandoned Army ammunition bunkers amid grassland that stretched for miles in every direction, quietly listening and looking, when a thrilling sound reached my ears: a thin, low “wolf whistle” that carried across the prairie. In this surreal setting, it was dreamlike, yet somehow belonged like nothing else.

Bobolinks call Grant Creek project their home

A July 2012 Field Note

Nature is the best judge of whether the restoration is progressing in the right direction; our project's report card is the types and diversity of species utilizing the site. We are happy to report that bobolinks have been occupying the Wetlands Initiative's Grant Creek Restoration Project site at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in large numbers, their song making the days of the restoration crew's fieldwork more enjoyable.

Signs of spring, native and invasive

An April Field Note

How do you know the spring has arrived? One—the heavy coats and gloves are put away; two—you notice the first, brave flowers beginning to bloom. Many of these flowers are called spring ephemerals due to their short life cycle, lasting between 6-8 weeks. At this time of year at the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, the Dore Seep is blooming with bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, trilliums, and ... invasive garlic mustard.