witch hazel flowers

Meet Your Witchy Neighbor

By Jack MacRae Witch Hazel might sound like a cousin of Samantha Stevens.  But botanically, it is really an attractive understory shrub found in naturally wooded areas.  Their attractive, rounded-oval form makes them popular around the globe. Illinois is home to the Virginia variety, Hamamelis virginiana.  It can grow to 10-15 feet in our area and has roundish, toothed … Read more

by Scott Martin

Meet Your Returning Neighbors

By Jack MacRae Ornithologists have learned a great deal about dark-eyed juncos, those cute, gray and white snowbirds that visit us from the north.  We know their size, color, diet, and – most interesting – we know what they do.  Their migration patterns, flocking activity, and feeding habits make them neighbors you should meet! It’s Warmer Here … Read more

walnut tree

Meet your Tall Neighbor

By Black Jack MacRae When I think of black walnuts, I think of their abscission layer.  Abscission is a botanical term used to describe the highly complex separation of leaves, flowers, and fruits from their respective plants at the end of the growing season. In a nutshell, our deciduous trees produce hormones to inhibit growth and … Read more


Meet your New Neighbor

By Jack MacRae The western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) is the smallest (weighing an average 1/4 oz – 1/2 oz) of our long-tailed (almost 100 mm long!) neighborhood mice.  They are mousy brown with grayish white on their bellies and a nearly hairless tail.  They live where the grass and weeds are plentiful. Go East Young Mouse … Read more

Euonymus atropurpureus

Meet Your Neighbors: Meet Your Wahoo Neighbor

By Jack MacRae I think everyone should have at least one wahoo (Euonymus atropupureus) in their backyard.  They’re small, shrubby native trees that prefer average to moist conditions and do well in today’s crazy world.  They thrive in the filtered shade of wide-open woods and forest edges, creating a picturesque colony over the years. Shrubs such as … Read more


Meet Your Neighbors: Meet Mr. & Ms. Finch

By Jack MacRae House finches are common birds with a common name.  They are moderate sized birds with a conical, sparrow-like bill.  Male house finches are red/pink on their forehead, face, throat, and breast.  They have a pink rump.  Their wings, backs, and bellies are streaked with shades of brown.  Female house finches are streaky, blurry gray and brown all … Read more

Big Smallmouth Bass

Meet Your Neighbors: A Year in the Life of a Smallmouth Bass

By Pat Kirmse Spring A warm March rain raised the temperature of the Fox River to 47 degrees and a 15″ smallmouth bass starts to stir. She is five years old and has survived another Illinois winter, the coldest and snowiest in her life. Fortunately there were no heavy midwinter rains that would have blown … Read more

snapping turtle

Meet Your Neighbors: Turtle Power!

By Jack MacRae The eggs have all been laid.   Many thousands of the white spheres are now buried in our parks and gardens.  They look like ping pong balls.  The eggs were deposited in subterranean nests by our largest local reptile, the common snapping turtle. Common snapping turtles are truly common.  They live in all permanent bodies of water … Read more

Dams, Clams, and the Fox River

Please register at programs@kaneforest.com or call 630-444-3190 $20 per person Does our society have a moral obligation to return the Fox River to the health the first European settlers found when they arrived in the Fox River Valley? Professional Engineer and Friends of the Fox River Director, Art Malm provides a brief history of the Fox … Read more