Plant a Little Prairie: How to Grow a Microprairie in Your Yard

September 20, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

By Laura Walther Schaefer Microprairies are exactly as they sound- miniature versions of our grand prairies. They can occupy as little or as much space as you have or desire. Because they are prairies, they should be planted in a full sun environment that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.  Why […]


The Gulf Coast Tick Carries Another Virus of Concern

August 22, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Anecdotal evidence suggests that 2020 has been a banner year for ticks, but experts say that 2021 will likely be worse. The wet weather of the past few months has extended the habitat of many tick species and introduced a new species to Illinois—the Gulf Coast tick. And, as if the Coronavirus pandemic isn’t bad […]


Invasive Trees Are an Issue in Monroe County’s Natural Areas

July 17, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

We often use this platform to discuss invasive plant species such as Asian bush honeysuckle.  Rarely do we broach the subject of invasive trees, but in this article we will address two invasive trees—one that is a local favorite (Mimosa) and another that you will not find at your favorite nursery (Tree-of Heaven). Mimosa (Albizia […]


Dragonflies Continue to Thrive as Ecology Changes

June 20, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Ferocious predators roam the streams and meadows of Illinois’ wetlands and prairies.  These stealthy hunters lurk on the water’s surface or fly through the air, waiting for their next meal to come along.  And when it does, they strike with lightning speed and grab their unsuspecting victim.  No, we are not talking about the Creature […]


Columbines Dazzle Where Other Wildflowers Fear to Tread

May 15, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

One of the most underrated of Illinois’ native wildflowers, wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), grows where other flora fear to tread—at the edges of cliffs and out of limestone boulders.  Columbine is not showy like other spring bloomers such as Virginia bluebell and Celandine poppy. Columbines are unassuming in their beauty with their nodding blossoms of […]


Sounds of Spring, Frog Style

April 19, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Have you heard them yet? Choruses of happy frogs and toads are celebrating spring by broadcasting their mating calls. Frog and toad reproduction is a noisy affair. Males of each species produce a unique mating call. Male frogs have one or two vocal sacs (depending on the species) and calls are produced by forcing air […]


Bobcat: Illinois’ Native Cat

March 22, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

By Jennifer Kuroda, founder Illinois Bobcat Foundation The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is one of the more interesting and beautiful of our native wildlife species in Illinois. This handsome animal has tufted ears, a tawny coat with black spots, and a ruff of fur that flares from its cheeks and neck. Because they are apex predators, […]


Shed Hunting–A Deer Hunter’s Second Favorite Sport

February 22, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

Almost as popular as deer hunting, searching for Whitetail deer antler sheds can be satisfying and provide exercise to boot!  Be sure to get permission to shed hunt on property that does not belong to you.  There is an Illinois law on the books that prohibits hunting for sheds on others’ property without permission from […]


Comprehending Animal Tracks Enriches Your Understanding of Nature

January 19, 2020 clifftop CliffNotes

The snow we experienced in mid-December brought with it the opportunity to discover an abundance of animal tracks, turning a simple path into a deer superhighway.  It’s fascinating to see where the critters go in their travels in the woods.  Perhaps they feel the same way when they see our footprints or UTV tracks. Let’s […]


Let’s Talk Turkey

December 8, 2019 clifftop CliffNotes

‘Tis the season for eating turkey. According to the National Turkey Federation, 88% of the Americans surveyed eat turkey on Thanksgiving.  That translates to 46 million turkeys consumed on Thanksgiving while another 22 million provide the main course at Christmas.  These birds are mostly commercially grown turkeys bred and raised for the sole purpose of […]


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