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The Forest Way
Forest Preserves of Cook County Newsletter

August 2020

Fire pink flowers
Photo of the Month: Fire Pink by Chad Reno
Fire pink's (Silene virginica) sepals--leaflike structures that protects flower petals prior to blooming--are sticky and hairy to trap insects that climb up from the ground looking for nectar.
In this Issue:
- Watch for Different Plants, Animals
- Explore These Six Trails
- Successful Year for Osprey Propagation Program 
- Events
- Latest News

Discover Different Plants, Animals this Month in the Forest Preserves

From President Toni Preckwinkle

Now more than ever, we’ve seen just how important nature is in our lives. The outdoors quickly became a respite for many people throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While still practicing safe physical distancing and other public health guidelines, Forest Preserves visitors can enjoy sunshine, fresh air and opportunities for invigorating exercises.
 
For some of you, spending an afternoon in the Forest Preserves may be a new experience. And while you’re out exploring the trails, perhaps you’re noticing different habitats, interesting plants or our native wildlife. One of the best things about nature and the Forest Preserves is that they’re ever changing. As we continue the slow march through the year, the habitats, plants and wildlife you see will change, too. Forest Preserves naturalists have great ideas of what to keep an eye out for when you’re in the Forest Preserves this month.

  • You may spot ruby-throated hummingbirds—a quick and tiny jewel-toned bird—flittering among gardens or hanging out near bird feeders at the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers.
  • Birds—like bobolinks and dickcissels—with long migrations to South America are beginning to flock up in preparation for their reverse migration and may be spotted in large groups with their fledged young. Meanwhile, birds with shorter migrations are still raising their young and can be heard singing in the Forest Preserves.
  • Monarch butterflies and tiger swallowtails—beautiful orange or yellow butterflies respectively—are common in August. Monarchs can be found near milkweed, and swallowtails are often seen near wafer ash and cottonwood trees.
  • Summer’s “golden” month: In August, you may be treated to a stunning display of yellow flowers such as goldenrod, sunflowers or black-eyed Susans. 
  • After growing throughout summer, walking stick insects may finally be large enough to spot in the Forest Preserves. These careful camouflagers may require a discerning eye—although they’re large for being insects, walking sticks easily blend into woodland habitats.
  • At only a few months old, late summer is the time of year when young skunks start venturing out on their own away from mother skunks. Coyotes, minks and other young mammals may begin to venture out on their own this time of year, too.

With nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful to explore, we hope you spot something exciting and inspiring during your visits to the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Two people walking on a trail

Six Trails to Explore in the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the Forest Preserves’ most popular trails have experienced increased use from Cook County residents looking for a place to safely enjoy sunshine and fresh air.
 
If you’ve been enjoying riding, walking, hiking or running our trails and looking for a new one to check out, or have been thinking about planning an outing for the first time, consider exploring one of these recommended trails.

See the Six Trails
Osprey getting banned

Osprey Propagation Program Has Successful Year 

ICYMI: Earlier this summer our wildlife staff checked for chicks on our osprey platforms at Saganashkee Slough, Busse Woods, Baker’s Lake and Penny Road Pond. Our osprey propagation program started in the late 1980s and now boasts 20 nesting platforms throughout the county. The osprey at these locations had an exceptional year, producing twice as many offspring as in 2019.
 
Wildlife staff members measure and weigh the chicks, draw blood and check them for overall signs of health. Each chick gets an aluminum band with a unique identifier. Why band? If banded ospreys are found again, we can track their migration, health and causes of mortality.
 
Check out more photos on our blog.

View Osprey Photos

Events

Join our programming teams and naturalists for fun, educational virtual offerings via Zoom and Facebook Live in August, including presentations on hummingbirds, snakes, salamanders and more. There are also limited in-person events available, which require attendees to register in advance. Check out our online events calendar for a full schedule.

Check Out the Schedule

Latest News 

New Trail Spur Opens in Hoffman Estates
The newly paved Orange Trail spur allows walkers, runners and bicyclists from local communities access to an 8.8-mile paved loop and the 4,300 acres of natural land in the Arthur L. Janura Forest Preserve complex, as well as other neighborhoods and retail to the south and west.
Learn More
Photo Contest Opens September 1
We’re looking for your very best photos of Forest Preserves landscapes, close-ups of plants, insects, birds and other wildlife, pictures that highlight the seasons and shots of people enjoying the outdoors or participating in our recreational offerings. Entries will be accepted Sept 1-15, and the winners will receive a Forest Preserves' prize pack and be featured in 2021. Stay tuned for more details.
View 2019 Winners
Experience Forest Preserves from New Heights
Experience the Forest Preserves from high in the forest canopy on the Go Ape Treetop Adventure or Treetop Journey Courses. The Go Ape Treetop Courses are open with modified operations and limited capacity. Visit the Go Ape website for more information.
Learn More
View "Messages of Hope" Exhibit at Little Red Schoolhouse
In partnership with Cabinet of Curiosity's School of Celebration, 80 homemade artistic boxes are on display now through September 30 along Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center’s trails. The boxes have been inspired by Earth, water, air, walking, art, community and hope.
Learn More
Fill Out the 2020 Census
Cook County needs you! Shape the future of your community today. Help someone fill out the 2020 Census either online, by phone, or by mail. Don’t forget to let your friends and family know you completed the Census! #EachOneReachOne #CookCountyCensus #MakeILCount
Complete the Census
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