Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: It's perfect time to spot raptors

Some years ago — nevermind how long precisely — I took advantage of a break in the morning rain to bicycle from my home in Champaign to my office at the University of Illinois.

Letter from Birdland: It's a good time to build bonds

A chill has come over Birdland, and we've got a lot of work to do to prepare for the long, cold, lonely winter ahead, little darlings. The heart of the matter is the hearth. We need to carve hospitable spaces in our home and our lives. In Birdland, that means we need to put our own house in order, dusting, cleaning, getting rid of unnecessary distractions.

Forecasted cold spell has temps, leaves finally set to fall

Evidently, trees have also been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we've seen this fall — their slowness to shed has led to a sluggish start for local leaf pickup.

But falling temperatures this weekend — lows in the 20s and 30s are forecast 10 days out, starting Friday — will ensure the remaining leaves will take a tumble, too, area arborists say.

Letter from Birdland: Sharing a special film with friends

Birdland in November is ... warm? At least until the sun goes down. And the grass is green under the carpet of leaves.

We are tidying up after a gathering of friends, old and new, who came out for a very special launch party.

Petting Zoo, an independent film by writer/director Micah Magee, is "a story of love, sex and teen pregnancy in San Antonio, Texas."

Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: The bad news about bats

As a writer who loves wildlife, I find no story more difficult to tell than the story of how white-nose syndrome is affecting bats in North America.

Sidney farmer has 'em gobbling up his free-range livestock

SIDNEY — David Bane grew up with six brothers adn two sisters, so Thanksgiving rotates each year among him and his brothers.

This year he and his wife, Susan, will visit brother Ted in Lexington, Ky. If it were David's turn, he would be grilling a turkey at the Homer Lake Forest Preserve for his side of the Bane family Thanksgiving.

Ameren to finish cleanup at gas plant site by December

Ameren Illinois plans to finish removing toxins from the site of its old manufactured gas plant in Champaign by next month.

Project manager Brian Martin said crews in November and December will be removing coal tar from a 200 feet by 25 feet strip of land at the gas plant site at Fifth and Hill streets.

Letter from Birdland: Devil's Lake: A hiker's paradise

In Birdland, we're on the cusp of fall, and the west wind blows hot and cold. Today was hot, while yesterday's wind had a pleasant chill.

I'm still thinking about the hiking we did last weekend, and I promised to tell you about the trails we took.

Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: Bats before White-Nose Syndrome

Sometimes human behavior degrades the natural world over longish spans of time, as in the case of climate change. Other times, things we do wreak ecological havoc much more rapidly, as when we transport plants, animals and pathogens from one continent to another. Case in point: White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), a fungal infection that has killed bats in the U.S.

Tom's #Mailbag, Oct. 21, 2016

Questions for Tom? ASK THEM HERE and he'll chase down your answer.