Spring 2004
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Woods of Wisdom

                                                    Feb/March 2004

If You Sit Still Long Enough

If you sit still long enough,
The cardinals will come close and dare,               
To show you the colors that they wear,
If you sit still long enough.

If you sit still long enough,
The thrasher no longer hides,
To his curiosity he must abide,
If you sit still long enough.

If you sit still long enough,
From the ground the voles will peek,  
And smuggle seeds by your feet,
If you sit still long enough.

If you sit still long enough,
The fox will quietly slink by,
Followed by the white throat's tattletale cries,
If you sit still long enough.

If you sit still long enough,
So many worries that belong to man,
Will seem so tiny in your hand,
If you sit still long enough.

If you sit still long enough,
The wind becomes a choir,
And the oaks are temple spires,
If you still long enough.

If you sit still long enough,
What was once the earth and you,
Is now one where there were two,

If you sit still long enough …

……………… Nighthawk


Owls are back in the south suburbs

Clearing of grassland brings out rodents - and their predators

------------ by Gary Wisby, Environmental Reporter

Chicago Sun-Times

You may not know what voles are, but short-eared owls and northern harriers do: They're dinner.

A population explosion of the mouselike animals has lured the two endangered raptors back to a forest preserve in south suburban Matteson.

Why did the voles return? Because the plot of forest preserve known as the Bartel Grassland -- between Ridgeland and Central south of Flossmoor Read -- has been restored to a more natural state.

Workers tore out seven miles of hedgerows, which gave cover to predators such as raccoons and opossums that eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds. They removed drainage tiles laid by farmers, allowing the return of natural water flow. They sowed seeds of prairie plants.

In addition, haying by farmers was ended and prescribed burning was reintroduced.

Birders first noticed increased numbers of nesting bobolinks and Henslow's sparrows, a threatened species.

"But no one was prepared for the bird bonanza this winter," said Judy Pollock of Chicago Audubon, a partner in the project along with the Cook County Forest Preserve District, CorLands, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bartel Grassland Volunteers.

The Thorn Creek Audubon Society suggested the work. Its president, Marianne Hahn, reported on a birders' Web site, "Penny Kneisler and I watched as a coyote pounced on, caught and ate a rodent in the mowed area close to Central. Paying no attention in the same area were two northern harriers roosting on the ground. As we watched, short-ears came to the edge of the taller grasses.

Mowing fire breaks, planting seeds and burning, a restoration crew from Landscape Resources Inc. thought the owls and harriers were harassing them. But then they realized what was really going on.

Project leader Doug Wilford explained, "Whenever we are around, there is a steady stampede of startled voles that haphazardly scramble out into areas that have suddenly cleared of vegetative cover. We are the dinner bell."

On a recent visit, birder Bryan Zvolanek of Downers Grove spotted a rough-legged hawk.

"I watched the bird take off when out of the pines burst a very angry owl, which started to give chase across the field where tow short-eared owls joined in," he said. "In the same field of view I could see two northern harriers rocking their way across the grassland in the distance. Four birds of prey in the same field of view -- terrific."

Bring binoculars if you visit the site. "The owls roost on the ground and can waste valuable energy if visitors startle them into flight," Pollock said.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
     love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

--- By Mary Oliver, From "New and Selected Poems"


Windy & white

Indigo nights

Northern lights

Tracks that bite

Earth’s respite

Rivers frozen under ice

…………. By Amy Ciaccio-Jarvis


Full Moon Fascination


Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year. Here is the Farmers Almanac's list of the full Moon names.

• Full Wolf Moon - January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January's full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

• Full Snow Moon - February Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February's full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.

• Full Worm - March Moon As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.

• Full Pink Moon - April This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month's celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

• Full Flower Moon - May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.

• Full Strawberry Moon - June This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!

• The Full Buck Moon - July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month's Moon was the Full Hay Moon.

• Full Sturgeon Moon - July The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

• Full Fruit or Barley Moon - August The names Fruit and Barley were reserved only for those years when the Harvest Moon is very late in September,

• Full Harvest Moon - September This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.

• Full Hunter's Moon - October With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can easily see fox and the animals which have come out to glean.

• Full Beaver Moon - November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

• The Full Cold Moon; or the Full Long Nights Moon - December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.



To look at anything,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
"I have seen spring in these
Woods," will not do -- you must
Be the thing you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.

John Moffitt, THE LIVING SEED, 1961, Harcourt Brace & Co.



The World of Lichens

By Diane Nelson & John Wall

*putting on professor's hat*

Lichens are actually not plants at all. In fact, they are not a single organism. They are a fungus and cyanobacteria living together as one unit. Depending on the species of fungus and bacteria, you get different "species" of lichens. The fungus secretes acids that break down rocks
and other materials to obtain minerals and gain a foothold, while the bacteria produce food through photosynthesis. It seems like a nice cooperation, although it is really more like exploitation. The fungus can't live on its own, but the bacteria actually do better without the fungus parasitizing them.

Researchers are also starting to realize that lichens are complete little ecosystems, not just a partnership between two or three organisms. A lichen in the wild also houses many xenobionts, organisms that are not part of the
"primary" symbiosis. These xenobionts are usually bacteria
or fungi. Their role in lichen ecology and physiology is
virtually unknown. But then, the same can be said for most
aspects of lichen biology.

I studied mites that live almost exclusively in lichens. They're very cool.....they look like little turtles, with big, heavy shells to protect them from predators.

I recently looked in an old medical book, back when fungi were considered plants. Athlete's foot and yeast infections were under a heading of "parasitic plants"!!

On the other hand, I enjoy telling my students in intro biology that animals are basically plant parasites....

--desert eagle


No I Can't Go Back Yet       
by Nirav Sumati

I need to lie here.
I need to immerse myself.
I need to see nothing but green                  

for a little while.

I need to nourish my soul
to stroke it gently to life.
I need to lie on this ancient log
to soak up sky latticed leaves.
I need to wander my eye up
up a trunk till I can't see.

I need to be here by the creek
to give my body to the ferns.
I need to breathe rich air
to receive my taste of soil.

Wilderness is no longer a luxury:
Just as my child needs milk from my breast,
this I need from my mother.




Bird Treat

In this non-suet recipe, the shortening has no nutritional value, but a little is added for consistency. This mix does not have the high energy value of suet, but the ingredients are enjoyed by many species. The cornmeal is *IMPORTANT* to prevent the sticky consistency of peanut butter from choking the birds.

1 C peanut butter (crunchy)

2 C quick oats

2 C cornmeal

1 C shortening

1 C white or whole wheat flour

1/4 C sugar

Melt the peanut butter and shortening, mix in everything else. Pour into containers about 1 1/2 " thick and freeze. Cut to fit suet feeder basket.

Suet Treat

The suet in these next two recipes provides winter fuel for the birds and is especially favored by woodpeckers and nuthatches. Shortening is NOT a substitute as it lacks the energy-packed nutritional value of suet. Suet can be gotten from your local meat market, rendered from fat trimmed from meat cuts, or simply buy the suet cakes already made up at the wild bird food section in the store. Be aware that some mixes add dyes and flavorings that have no nutritional value; you and the birds are better off just putting out the real stuff, however unsophisticated!!

1 1/2 C peanut butter

1 1/2 C cornmeal

3 - 4 C wild bird seed

3 C rendered suet*

Freeze in a cake or pie pan; cut into pieces to fit suet basket.

*to render suet, melt suet (fat trimmed from beef ) in a heavy pan over low heat; cool, reheat and cool again, adding other ingredients while melted. Cool or freeze until placed out in suet baskets in the yard.

Birdie Granola

1/2 C chopped rendered suet

1/2 C peanut butter

2 1/2 C cornmeal

1 C wild birdseed

Combine, press into a pan. Freeze until firm enough to crumble. Put crumbles in a bowl with peanuts, birdseed, chopped apples, raisins or more chunks of suet. Mix well, divide into single serve containers and freeze. You can also add oatmeal, bran or pumpkin seeds.

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last updated on August 26, 2013