Severson Dells Notes: Winter Bird Hike, Sweetheart of Chili Feast among February events

From Severson Dells Nature Center

Severson Dells Nature Center, 8786 Montague Road, Rockford, presents the following slate of events in February.

υ Winter Bird Hike—Saturday, Feb. 6, 8-10:30 a.m., at Severson Dells Nature Center: Join volunteer naturalist Phil Schwab at Severson Dells Forest Preserve and begin the walk by identifying birds at the feeders. Then, walk outside with the hopes of seeing winter wrens, brown creepers, tree sparrows, purple finches, or something completely unexpected. Meet at the Nature Center. Bring binoculars and dress for the weather. No fee. Call (815) 335-2915 to confirm.

υ Barren Wasteland or American Serengeti—Tuesday, Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m., at Severson Dells Nature Center: Join Ann Whitney on her trip to the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge has been called a “Barren Wasteland” by some, and the “American Serengeti” by others. It is the wildest place left in America. Three airplane rides and 85 miles of river rafting later, she can definitely tell you it is not a barren wasteland. It is teeming with life: birds, butterflies, bugs, flowers and mammals. The presentation will include many of the more than 350 photos of this unique wildlife refuge taken along the way, and will show the dynamic spectacle that takes place during the 24-hour daylight of the short arctic spring and summer. Call (815) 335-2915 to confirm.

υ Sweetheart of a Chili Feast—Saturday, Feb. 13, 12:30-2:30 p.m., at Sugar River Forest Preserve: Join in with the Coyote Clan families at Sugar River Forest Preserve with your favorite chili concoction and enjoy the day. An escape like no other! Meet at the Sugar River Forest Preserve front gate, and be prepared to walk down to the beautiful Riverview stone shelterhouse. Eat, talk and decide upon the course of action for a short river bluff hike. What a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Call (815) 335-2915 to confirm.

υ The Rise, Fall, and Comeback of the Great Plains Bison—Sunday, Feb. 14, 2-4 p.m., at Severson Dells Nature Center: The bison’s story will be told through examining artifacts and firsthand accounts that reveal this animal’s majesty. The bison population at its peak was estimated to be as high as 60 million animals. Then, human predators began to kill the bison in numbers that gradually decimated their population. Before the bison became extinct in the United States, a few people came to their senses and saved the species. This presentation is conducted by Cliff Knapp, professor emeritus in the Teaching and Learning Department of Northern Illinois University. Call (815) 335-2915 to confirm.

υ Following Fall Along the Rockies Through the National Parks—Tuesday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m., at Severson Dells Nature Center: Journey from Minnesota to the Badlands as fall approaches, up to both parts of the Teddy Roosevelt National Park, by Pompey’s Pillar, across the Bitterroot Pass to Yellowstone. Continue southward to the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, and through the Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area to Vernal, Utah. Onward from Vernal to Arches National Park and on to Mesa Verde National Park to check the ancient cliff dwellings. Traveling the mountain roads past Silverton and Cimarron, we journey to Gunnison, Colo.

Along the way, you will encounter black bear, coyote, prairie dogs, mountain sheep, moose, elk and mule deer. Golden eagle, black rosy finch, raven, mountain chickadee, red crossbill, Cassin’s finch, scrub jay, magpie, Steller’s jay, and other birds are seen. Beautiful mountains, lakes and streams are curtained by blazing yellow aspens that light up the scenes.

Jack and Joyce Armstrong will present the journey. Jack is a member of the Severson Dells Nature Center Board of Directors and a commissioner for the Rockford Park District. He enjoys capturing beautiful parts of nature with his camera. Joyce is president of the North Central Illinois Ornithological Society. Both have traveled extensively through the West many times in their Eurovan camper. Call (815) 335-2915 to confirm.

For more about Severson Dells, visit

From the Feb. 3-9, 2010 issue.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!