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close up photo of insect hole on tree

Cantankerous cavities

Most cavities in a tree are caused by some type of living organism, either an animal or a pathogen of some sort. Some cavities will only be found in dead trees or a portion of a live tree with dead wood. Other cavities can be in otherwise completely healthy trees. Let’s take a look at some of the...
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Tornado touching down over green field and buildings

Tornado trends

In today’s world, it appears that everyone has seen or experienced a tornado up close and personal, at least from all the video that is available on social media.  The fact is many people have only seen pictures or video and have not experienced a real tornado. However, their chances may be getting...
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Red male cardinal on grey fence

A year of discovery: Daily observations in my backyard

Author’s Note:  In January of 2022, I embarked on a year of daily half-hour observations in my backyard. This essay is a partial accounting of what I discovered. There’s nothing special about my backyard.  It’s one of countless tracts surveyed and mapped into thousands of neat urban parcels in my...
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white flowers on a tree

Grassland teaches a lesson on Callery Pear

Spring has sprung! Birds are active, insects are emerging, and the early bloomers are starting to show their bright flowers indicating the cold days of winter are almost behind us. You may notice the brilliant displays of blooming trees, particularly a white one, that feels like it is THE tree for...
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Fire with orange, red, and yellow flames

The Changing Sentiment of Prescribed Fire

When I was a child, I remember fondly the US Forest Service (USFS) forest fire prevention commercials containing the slogan, “only you can prevent forest fires.” We were a camping family, so we were careful to follow safety rules when we cooked with fire at our campsites. As a student and a young...
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Trio of wild turkeys in a snow dusted field

Let's talk turkey: Fact or fiction

From turkey hands made by schoolchildren to presidential pardons at the White House, November is turkey time. And while we may think we know a lot about these birds, here are a few things that might be new to you. Fast Turkey Facts Wild turkeys, (Meleagris gallopavo) are one of...
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White man with dark beard in blue shirt and hat hiking with backpack

Tips for staying safe when hiking during hunting season

Illinois has some of the most beautiful areas to hike across the state. State parks alone have over 270 trails that total more than 700 miles. Each area of the state offers many different landscapes to enjoy. You may encounter rugged bluffs with waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park in northern...
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Blog Authors
Duane Friend

Duane Friend

State Master Naturalist and Climate Change Specialist
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