Things to do / Travel Guide
Big cities generally do not convey the best vision of the area's original wilderness. Chicago and southern Wisconsin, nevertheless, have gone out of their way to ensure the survival, and flourishing, of their flora and fauna. Chicago boasts conservation societies that reserve specific sites for bird watching and the restoration of wetlands. Southern Wisconsin boasts thousands of acres of land near the larger cities, specifically placed to facilitate the return of wildlife.
Around July and August lightning bugs start to come out through the city, with their phosphorescent abdomen putting on a show in the various parks around the city. Occasionally, there are sightings of deer and the newly-flourishing coyotes that wandered into the city, and of the peregrine falcon - the official bird of Chicago.
While tall prairie grass once covered most of Chicago, today one one-hundreth of one percent of the original prairie still exists today within Chicago's city limits. Nevertheless, even today, in a few acres of land scattered throughout the city you'll find hundreds of plants growing, like violets, aster, and hyacinths, white trilliums blooming near oaks, and bitternut hickory trees. Birds like meadow links, sandpipers, and bobolinks, are mostly seen in the prairie, whereas northern orioles and red-tailed hawks are seen in the woodlands. Bobolink Meadow in Jackson Park is a prairie habitat that features various butterflies, dragon flies, and birds. The wild onion, aster, and plant cap grow there. Grompers Park Wetland, in Jefferson Park, in the city's north, is a restored wetland with blue herons, warblers, turtles, and noisy bullfrogs.
Wisconsin has over 2,100 species of plant, and approximately one-tenth are classified as rare species. Pine trees are the most common tree found, but hemlock, elm, ash, hickory beech, and cottonwood are also popular throughout forests, as well as in suburbs. The white-tailed deer have grown to unprecedented numbers in the last decade. Even black bears have been known to roam through the woods of Wisconsin.
The Havenwoods State Forest in Milwaukee contains 237 acres of different habitats that feature the great blue heron, sandhill cranes, and fly catchers. The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, 20 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee, is great for seeing owls, finches, and falcons. It features two ponds, woodlands, ravines, and prairies. Make a note, though, the center is closed on Mondays.
The Dunes area is home to an amazing amount of birdlife. Over 350 different kinds of birds have been sighted in the confines of the park. The fact that the Dunes' location is the southernmost point on Lake Michigan makes it especially well-placed for migrating birds.
Nature Spots in Chicago, Illinois, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells, Madison