The Neighborhood Naturalist

Indigo bunting/Passerina cyanea (Image source: Roberta Appleby)

With this feature, we look forward to sharing photographs taken in and around River Forest which document the rich variety of wildlife that live around us. Some species, such as the Indigo bunting pictured above, are seasonal visitors, arriving here in the spring to breed in the woodlands surrounding settled areas. Others are permanent, year-round residents. Some are mostly found in the Forest Preserves or larger natural areas; others visit or pass through our backyards. Mobility for some animals – such as birds or even insects like dragonflies – is relatively high, while for others, such as amphibians like frogs or salamanders, it is much lower.

What is universally the case is that there is more to find in your backyard or out in the woods than you might think – and that the longer you look, the more you will find. As Florence Merriam Baily – an early American advocate of watching birds instead of shooting them – advised in the late nineteenth-century, all that is needed is a good place to sit with the sun at your back, and time enough to attend to the avian diversity that pulses through forest and field. What you will find will change with the months and the seasons, even the weeks. The land around us is, in ecological terms, a shared space, one with few hard boundaries and even fewer that match property lines or municipal jurisdictions or any notion of where ‘nature’ should begin and end.

To that end, to sharpen our senses, expand our knowledge, and broaden our circle of biological acquaintances; to motivate us to make whatever patch of land over which we hold stewardship more hospitable to the diversity of life that has long preceded us, we hope you will enjoy this visual record of the seasons.

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