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President's Letter: Discover Different Plants, Animals this Month in the Forest Preserves

Now more than ever, we’ve seen just how important nature is in our lives. The outdoors quickly became a respite for many people throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While still practicing safe physical distancing and other public health guidelines, Forest Preserves visitors can enjoy sunshine, fresh air and opportunities for invigorating exercises.

For some of you, spending an afternoon in the Forest Preserves may be a new experience. And while you’re out exploring the trails, perhaps you’re noticing different habitats, interesting plants or our native wildlife. One of the best things about nature and the Forest Preserves is that they’re ever changing. As we continue the slow march through the year, the habitats, plants and wildlife you see will change, too. Forest Preserves naturalists have great ideas of what to keep an eye out for when you’re in the Forest Preserves this month.

  • You may spot ruby-throated hummingbirds—a quick and tiny jewel-toned bird—flittering among gardens or hanging out near bird feeders at the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers.
  • Birds—like bobolinks and dickcissels—with long migrations to South America are beginning to flock up in preparation for their reverse migration and may be spotted in large groups with their fledged young. Meanwhile, birds with shorter migrations are still raising their young and can be heard singing in the Forest Preserves.
  • Monarch butterflies and tiger swallowtails—beautiful orange or yellow butterflies respectively—are common in August. Monarchs can be found near milkweed, and swallowtails are often seen near wafer ash and cottonwood trees.
  • Summer’s “golden” month: In August, you may be treated to a stunning display of yellow flowers such as goldenrod, sunflowers or black-eyed Susans. 
  • After growing throughout summer, walking stick insects may finally be large enough to spot in the Forest Preserves. These careful camouflagers may require a discerning eye—although they’re large for being insects, walking sticks easily blend into woodland habitats.
  • At only a few months old, late summer is the time of year when young skunks start venturing out on their own away from mother skunks. Coyotes, minks and other young mammals may begin to venture out on their own this time of year, too.

With nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful to explore, we hope you spot something exciting and inspiring during your visits to the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Stay healthy and safe,

Toni Preckwinkle, President