Nature Center

The Kildeer Nature Center is located on the east side of Quentin Road, just south of West Cuba Road.
The following is a guide to this natural habitat and the beauty it offers.

Flora & Vegetation


Flora and vegetation abound on the site. A total of 70 vascular plant species can be found, of which 73% are indigenous to Illinois.

The upland portions of the site, occurring on the well-drained Morley silt loam soil, are vegetated by a successional mix of young trees and shrubs. Thickets of Dogwoods, Smooth Sumac and Cherry Trees grow among grassy patches of predominately non-native cool season grasses such as Kentucky Blue Grass and Red Fescue. Native and non-native forbs such as numerous species of Goldenrod, Queen Annes Lace and Ox-Eye Daisy are the typical forb vegetation.

In addition to these regionally common species, rarer native species can be found in the uplands. One of the rarest for the region is New Jersey Tea, a beautiful low-growing prairie shrub occurring on well-drained slopes. Also, Blue-Eyed Grass, Stiff Goldenrod and Poverty Oats Grass represent vestige of the pre-settlement vegetation of this site.

Lower elevations of the site contain the hydric soil Houghton Muck and is characterized by a near-monotypic stands of Reed Canary Grass. This wetland is identified on the National Wetland Inventory as seasonally flooded forest wetland. The stand of grass borders the small narrow drainage swales of Buffalo Creek.

Scattered throughout the partial shade of Box Elder, Cottonwood, and Black Willow, is Orange Jewelweed, Cattail and Blue Flag Iris. A fen-like community or a wetland of low, flat, marshy land borders the Reed Canary zone. Several rare and conservative plant species exist here, including: several Sedges, Mountain Mint, and Prairie Cord Grass. This fen-like community occurs at the base of a slope and is kept moist by alkaline groundwater seepage. This plant community is highly restorable through the use of prescription burns, especially as a control of the spread of Reed Canary Grass.

History


With surrounding Lake County in a state of vast development, it was Kildeer’s intent to provide its residents with a refuge where people could join together with nature’s tranquility.

The Nature Center land has evolved naturally over the centuries. The upland portions of the wetlands on the site were historically used as pastureland. In pre-settlement times (prior to 1830), this site was an oak savanna bordered by wet prairies. Thus, the land has provided a sanctuary for a variety of natural flora and fauna for many years.

The land was acquired by the village in 1996, through a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Land Space Acquisition Grant. It expands over an area of 5 acres. Adjacent to the center, land has been designated for the future development of a Village Facility.

The center is in its natural state. There are currently no paths, no benches, and no gathering areas. It is Kildeer’s wish to keep this area in its natural state to preserve the uniqueness of what nature has bestowed, and allow for little disruption of its beauty. This habitat is a parcel dominated by stream beds, adjacent wetlands and a sloping terrain of forested meadows.

To enhance your journey, this booklet will attempt to provide you with information on the plant and animal inhabitants, while defining their characteristics. If you wish further information, please contact the Village Office and we will be happy to direct you to additional sources of information.

Birds


There are many non-game species known to feed (however not nest) on the site. During your visit several species of non-game birds can be observed. Numerous other wetland species are resident on the parcel including but not limited to: Horned Owls, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Sparrow Hawks, Bluejays, Scarlet Tanger, Cardinals, Red-Throated Gross Beak, Flickers, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Purple Finches, Swallows, Purple Martins, Nuthatches, and Red-Tailed Hawks.

Prominent among the many birds you will find living amongst the trees and prairie, is the Killdeer, the bird for which the village is named. The Killdeer is a self-appointed sentinel for other forms of birds and animals. Its strident cry is heard from early morning to late evening hours, and ringing down from the high heavens, has a quality all its own. On the ground, the ten inch bird runs and races around with abandon, all the while emitting its repetitive call.

This small bird has a coat of olive-brown with a white breast slashed by two black bands. Two black bands also cross the Killdeer’s head with a brown colored spot that is conspicuous at the base of the tail when the bird is in flight.

The Killdeer‘s nests in a depression in the ground. After the usual four eggs are laid, the adult bird becomes very upset when the nest is approached. The young are mobile very soon after hatching and dart around like little puffs of feathers. The female puts on a heart-breaking act of pretending injury when the young are approached, in an effort to draw away enemies.

The Killdeer is a valuable bird to our nature center and surrounding homes because of its help in controlling weevils, grasshoppers, beetles, ticks, mosquitoes, flies, army worms and other noxious insects.

Endangered species are few on this site. The only threatened and/or endangered specie is the Egret. This bird is a large heron that is white in color with black legs and a yellow bill. It can be found in shallow water, where it stalks its prey slowly and deliberately. It feeds on a variety of aquatic and marsh-dwelling creatures, including fish, crayfish, frogs, and even snakes. It can be heard by its low, guttural growl or croak. This species is now protected by law.

Animal Life


The natural habitat is home to many critters. During any given season on any given day, there are numbers of deer, rabbit, squirrels and other game species. This parcel is dominated by the stream beds, adjacent wetlands and a sloping terrain of forested meadows–a habitat which provides animals the ability to feed off of the fertile grasses and plants along with various insects and other prey. With natural habitat areas diminishing, this site offers these animals a refuge; a place to call home.

Additionally, a trip to this site will bring about visions of scampering black squirrels, spotted salamanders, moles, chipmunks and woodchucks. Raccoons, Fox and an occasion coyote have also been spotted. These animals are all herbivores (animals that eat mainly plants to survive) or carnivores (animals that eat mainly other animals to survive), and seem to find all they need to survive on the site.

Kildeer does not allow hunting within the Village limits. This restriction includes both firearms and/or bow and arrow. Fishing is also restricted to only those lakes or ponds located on private property. Fishing is prohibited on the Nature Center Property.

Suggestions For Further Reading


A Little Bit of History, Clayton W. Brown, Kildeer, Illinois, 1996. Available through the Village Office. (847) 438-6000. A Little Bit of History, Clayton W. Brown, Kildeer, Illinois, 1996. Available through the Village Office. (847) 438-6000.

The Birds of Illinois, David H. Bohlen, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1989. The Birds of Illinois, David H. Bohlen, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1989.

A field Guide to the Wetlands of Illinois, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 1988. A field Guide to the Wetlands of Illinois, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, 1988.

Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers, Doug Ladd, photos by Frank Oberle, Falcon Press Publishing Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers, Doug Ladd, photos by Frank Oberle, Falcon Press Publishing

Chicago Area Birds, Chicago Review Press, Chicago, 1984. Copies available from the Chicago Audubon society. Chicago Area Birds, Chicago Review Press, Chicago, 1984. Copies available from the Chicago Audubon society.

Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed., Floyd Swink and Gerould Wilhelm, Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolic, IN, 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed., Floyd Swink and Gerould Wilhelm, Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolic, IN, 1994.