Spring has Sprung in O’Fallon! 

As of March 20th, the Northern Hemisphere has had its vernal equinox, and we are officially in spring. Of course, the weather doesn’t always seem to recognize that fact (ten years ago we got a foot of snow on my mother’s birthday…. which is March 24). But when you get a good day where the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you can see the trees and flowers in bloom all around you, it’s a great reminder of what makes Southern Illinois such a lovely place to be.  

It makes sense, then, that I’ve seen several copies of Slow Birding coming through on the hold shelf. As the weather warms, it’s the perfect time to take a moment and recognize the beauty all around us. Fortunately, the library offers plenty of ways to appreciate nature, from the mundane to the majestic.  

In addition to Slow Birding, you can also find a pocket guide to Illinois Birds in our catalog, as well as a gardening guide that will help you choose the right landscaping, plants, and birdfeeders to attract a backyard full of feathered friends.  

For our younger audience, we have a birding guide written by an expert from National Geographic, as well as Citizen Scientist, a nature discovery book that empowers kids to observe the natural world from butterflies to bees to birds (and more!) Most importantly, when it comes to effectively observing creatures that can fly away at a moment’s notice, the library offers several sets of binoculars available for checkout.  

Of course, birds can be gorgeous – but often little kids prefer their nature in the form of creepy, crawly, many-legged wonders. Have no fear; you’ll find hundreds of books on different kinds of insects throughout the children’s area, including the Audubon Society’s First Field Guide to Insects and The Amazing Book of Insect Records. And when you’re ready to get up close and personal with some bugs and other bits of nature, don’t forget to grab a copy of Born to be Wild: Nature Activities for Families and one of our kids’ nature kits (complete with scissor scoops, magnifying insect viewers, binoculars, and several nature guides).  

Finally, if you prefer to be out in nature but perhaps not quite so up close and personal, you can go take a hike. And with a copy of Hiking Illinois or 20 Day Trips In and Around Shawnee National Forest, you’re sure to find just the right path to help you appreciate everything the natural world offers.  

P.S. Books and binoculars are excellent tools for discovering nature, but technology has its place, too. If you’re happy taking your phone along on your next nature walk, why not check out one of these free apps? 

  • Merlin Bird ID – This app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology lets you browse facts and photos of birds in your area, but its most exciting feature lets you record birdsong to figure out just which local creature is calling out to you.  
  • Shroomify – This app features thousands of pictures of mushrooms common to your area, as well as foraging tips, monthly lists of the most common mushrooms you’ll find, and an identifier that lets you choose characteristics of the mushroom you’re looking at to determine the most likely species.  
  • Seek by iNaturalist – This family-focused app lets you use your phone’s camera to identify the plants and animals all around you, and rewards you with badges for completing challenges and spending more time in nature.  

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