burning river

It’s Your River – Vote to Protect It!

By Gary Swick, President While in Waubonsee Creek in Oswego, with 7th graders from the Aurora University STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) school, I got a surprise. We were doing a physical-feature analysis to make a map of the creek segment that we were monitoring. Students focused upon two concrete pipes which were discharging a … Read more

Ruby throated hummingbird

Meet Your Neighbors: Ruby Throats and Their Poo

By Jack MacRae I think my hummingbirds have left for the year. I hope they made themselves comfortable before they left. Hummingbirds probably rate high on any animal likeability index. People always enjoy tiny, cute animals with remarkable behavior. And their feces can teach us much about their lives. Avian Excrement Is always an interesting … 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

Photograph taken by Patrick Coin

Meet Your Water Snake Neighbors

By Slithering Jack MacRae Queen snakes are gentle but squirmy water snakes with unique colors. They are not female king snakes, but belong to an entirely different taxonomic genus and family. Their very cool name in Latin “Regina septemvitatta” means Queen Seven Stripe. Queen snakes are about 2 feet long (big ones might reach 3) … Read more


Plastics are Breaking the Laws

By Gary Swick, President At our Yorkville river cleanup, I realized that my very full bag of trash was exceptionally light. It lacked the usual heavy glass bottles and pieces of metal. The contents were primarily cigarette butts, plastic bottles, food wrappers, and miscellaneous other plastic products like polystyrene (Styrofoam). These items end up as … 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

Elgin Love Our River Day volunteers

It Takes A Community

By Gary Swick, President Remember Hilary Clinton’s 1996 book, “It Takes a Village,” and her 2016 Democratic National Convention speech reminding us that alone we can neither rear a healthy family, build a business, heal a community, or lift a country by ourselves? Collaboratively, we do better when we pool our skills, talents, perspectives, and … Read more

Meet Your Neighbors: Cartoon Teachers

By Jack MacRae Today’s “Meet Your Neighbors” will look at 2 obscure and uncommon plant species and how their ancient names have been memorialized in popular culture, namely Calvin and Hobbs and The Simpsons. A Bitter Teacher Calvin (no last name was ever given)’s educator adversary was Miss Wormwood.  In botanical circles, wormwood refers to a … Read more

northern flicker

My Friend Flicker

By Jack MacRae Flicker meat tastes like ants.  I doubt I will get the opportunity to verify this (I would do it in a heartbeat) but times, tastes, and sensibilities have changed. The topic of tasting flicker meat was first raised by universally famous naturalist and artist John James Audubon, who would routinely taste his subjects, … Read more