Natural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinois

The Waders of August, Part 2: Lesser Known Members of the Heron Family

June 4, 2010 clifftop CliffNotes

American bittern, D. Jacobsen

By August flocks of herons and egrets can be spotted at ponds and wetlands, along waterways, and even field drainage ditches.  The often seen and graceful “fish cranes” and “white fish cranes” – Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets – are among the common wading birds we see.  Lesser know members of the heron family, […]


American bitternsCattle egretGreen heronLeast bitternsNatural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties IllinoisNight-HeronsWading birds in Southwestern Illinois

Colorful Baltimore Orioles & Bird Population Trends

June 4, 2010 clifftop CliffNotes

oriole, P. Feldker

  Baltimore Orioles are one of the most stunningly beautiful birds that spend their summers in our area. Their striking orange and black coloration is how they got their common name. When discovered by early English colonists along the Atlantic seaboard, they named the bird for the heraldic flag colors of the first Baron of […]


Baltimore Oriolesbird population trends in IllinoisNatural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties IllinoisOrchard Orioles

An Area Natural Treasure, Salt Lick Point is Perfect Spot for a Relaxing Hike

May 7, 2010 clifftop CliffNotes

Salt Lick Point LWR, J. Pflasterer

The Village of Valmeyer’s Salt Lick Point Land and Water Reserve is one of our area’s premier natural treasures and stands as testimony to the creative power of collaborative cooperation between government, citizens and non-profit organizations to protect our natural areas. After the Flood of 1993 devastated the original town of Valmeyer, the village decided […]


Natural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinoisoutdoor recreation in Southwestern IllinoisSalt Lick Point Land and Water ReserveValmeyer Illinois

Bats: Nighttime Bug Busters

April 2, 2010 clifftop CliffNotes

Hoary bat, J. Hofmann

Bats are among the most overlooked and misunderstood yet common mammals of Monroe County. They are easily overlooked because they are creatures of the night. They are misunderstood because of conflicted European mythological hogwash, treating them as “Batman- heroic” on the one hand, and “Dracula-like-loathsome” on the other. Not all the world sees bats in […]


batsEastern red batHoary batIndiana batNatural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinois

Raccoons: Clever? Tricksters? Cute? ADAPTIVE

February 5, 2010 clifftop CliffNotes

raccoon, P. Feldker

Raccoons, clever and cute, mischievous and tricksterish, have literally changed their lifestyles along with the rest of America. There are more raccoons living in Illinois and Monroe County today than there were in pre- and early-Euro-American settlement times and most now live in suburban and urban settings. Raccoons owe their success to their adaptability and […]


Natural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinoisraccoons

Wonderful Pelicans…

January 1, 2010 clifftop CliffNotes

Pelicans, close-up, T. Rollins

  “A wonderful bird is the pelican, His bill will hold more than his belican. He can take in his beak Food enough for a week. But I’m damned if I see how the helican.” Dixon Lanier Merritt A postcard sent by a Florida-vacationing reader inspired Merritt, then an editor at Nashville’s daily paper The […]


American White PelicansKidd Lake Marsh Natural AreaNatural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinoispelicans in Illinois

Plant Names Offer Clues to Past Uses and Beliefs

November 6, 2009 clifftop CliffNotes

Venus' looking glass, P. DauBach

The names of many of our bluff lands plants offer their own archeological record of cultural pasts.  Rather than rock hammers, small brushes, transects, and sieves, the archeology of words needs a tool kit that begins with a dictionary.  Nouns – names of things – can tell as much about the namers as what they […]


native plants and food usesnative plants and historic medicinal usesNatural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinois

Wild Turkeys: Bellwether Birds of Healthy Habitats

October 2, 2009 clifftop CliffNotes

wild turkeys, T. Rollins

Wild turkeys are a magnificent bellwether bird, proof positive that our bluff land forests afford healthy and sustainable habitats for a variety of wildlife. Wild turkeys (Meleagrus gallopavo), the largest game bird in North America, have long held a special place in the natural world for peoples of our continent.  Many Native American tribes considered […]


Natural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinoiswild turkeyswildlife food

“Green Chaos” of Natural Landscapes or Monoculture of Invasive Plants?

September 4, 2009 clifftop CliffNotes

raccoon, P. Feldker

Writer John Fowles spent a portion of his childhood in rural England when his family moved from a London suburb to escape World War II blitzkrieg attacks on the city.  His memory of life in the country, particularly life in a setting with woodlands, was, he later wrote, “Slinking off into trees was always slinking […]


benefits of native plantsinvasive plantsNatural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinois

The Waders of August

August 5, 2009 clifftop CliffNotes

Great and Snowy egrets and Little Blue heron, T. Rollins

Pools of water along the Mississippi River floodway and bottomlands – pacing summer’s decline with a steadily reducing size – often host large congregations of wading birds.  A late-summer leisurely drive along Levee Road offers viewing of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of herons and egrets. Adult birds, many still sporting worn remnants of once fine nuptial […]


EgretsHeronsNatural History in Monroe St. Clair and Randolph Counties Illinois

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