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A Carolina wren is singing her heart out this afternoon outside my window. Such a powerful jubilant song from such a tiny bird!

She reminds me that nature is on the move ... springtime means fast growth, flowers emerging and migrating species such as birds, monarch butterflies and even some species of dragonflies. Take a walk outside, and you can observe the emergence of a beautiful new season, both below your feet and flying above.

Down on the forest floor, the woodlands are alive with the spring wildflowers living in natural Illinois habitats. These flowers blanket the ground for a few months in the spring, displaying acres of color and soaking up the sun before the trees above them leaf out and the forest floor is bathed in shade.

Plants form the basis of the food chain, and as the plants awake, so do many insects that have overwintered here. Above our heads, migrating birds such as brilliantly colored warblers feast on these as they pass through during migration. Their visit with us is brief but important, as they rest and stock up on fat reserves for another leg of their journeys, flying a thousand miles or more on tiny wings. As soon as the winds are in their favor, many continue on.

Some insects also return by migrating. Monarch butterflies usually start showing up in East Central Illinois in mid-May. These butterflies are the descendants of the ones we saw migrating south to Mexico last fall. Certain species of dragonflies have a similar migration pattern, though, currently much less is known about them than we know about monarch butterflies.

Nature reminds us that we are all interdependent, and that life

is restored even after the “winter” seasons of our lives.

Explore more resources from the Homer Lake Interpretive Center and the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. Check out these online resources to escape to nature throughout your day.

Homer Lake Interpretive Center Facebook page:

Champaign County Forest Preserve:

— YouTube:

— Facebook:

— Twitter: @ChampCoForest

— Instagram: @champaignforests

For more info:, or 217-896-2455.

Pam Leiter is assistant director of the museum and education department at the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. She manages the Homer Lake Interpretive Center and oversees the environmental programming throughout the district. Email her at