Letter from Birdland: Getting an early start on spring cleaning

Is it really February? That global warming hoax has me thinking it is springtime in Birdland.

Bulbs are popping up in my flower beds — daffodils, tulips, iris and hyacinths.

On my pie path, garlic shoots push through a litter of leaves in the garlic corner.

The ornamental quince is sprouting buds like pink capers all over its branches.

A walk on Yellowstone's wild side

URBANA — You could call it a memorable meeting of the minds.

It was eight years ago in winter at Yellowstone National Park when University of Illinois Professor Bruce Fouke met famed nature photographer Tom Murphy.

The U.S. National Park Service had hired Murphy to photograph Fouke as he finished up research he'd been doing at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Entertainment listings, Feb. 23-March 2, 2017


This weekend


What: Hosted by Unity West PTO. Arrive early to pick your own table, view and bid on the silent auction items. Maximum of eight players per table; work as a team to come up with the answers. 50/50 raffle and games between rounds. Bring your own food.

Tests for coal-ash contamination keeping Kickapoo pond closed

OAKWOOD — A pond at Kickapoo State Park will remain off-limits to fishermen for the foreseeable future as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources continues analyzing whether a coal-ash dump nearby has contaminated the area.

Pond 6, as it's known, is on the south side of Kickapoo and has been closed to the public for about three years.

Whatever happened to ... UFO sightings

Although UFO sightings are down from their peak years, voyagers from space are still among us, and there's video over Champaign to prove it.

The skies here have had decades of brightly lit flying objects, to go by News-Gazette clippings.

Letter from Birdland: Wonderful experiences in nation's capital

We left Birdland this week to drive across the country to the nation's capital.

I was heading to a writers' conference, and Michael went along for the ride. My husband is always up for a road-trip adventure.

We drove across the prairie into the sunrise and were in the mountains by the time the sun was overhead.

Letter from Birdland: Dense fog puts me in state of reflection

Birdland is immersed in a dense fog. Driving home, I lost my bearings, so that I almost missed my exit.

Entertainment listings, Feb. 9-16, 2017


This weekend


What: Fundraising gala of Habitat for Humanity and the Home Builders Association of East Central Illinois includes appetizers, dinner and drinks, live and silent auctions. All proceeds go to supporting local homebuilding and neighborhood revitalization projects in Champaign County.

Letters from Birdland: Custard is my new obsession

It's snowing in Birdland. So far, just enough to mottle the landscape a little bit in white, make the air just a little bit obscure, like bad reception on the television.

The snow is blowing almost horizontally and inserts a screen of tiny dashes into my vision. Readers of a certain age will know what I mean when I say that "snow" interrupts the picture.

Top of the Morning, Feb. 4, 2017

Sadorus' BOB SILVER was driving near the Champaign-Douglas County line just west of U.S. 45 on Friday morning when he spotted a an enormous flock of snow geese.

How rare of a scene was it?

I turned to our resident birder — the UI's ROB KANTER — who tapped UI avian ecologist MIKE WARD for answers.