Surrounding yourself with the joys of the natural world and observing wildlife at the Center is the perfect way to spend the summer months. Here at Schlitz Audubon, we have many programs to inspire excitement and being active. We also encourage you to take the secluded trails to discover plants and animals that you might not have noticed before. Summer is a great time to have a relaxing day where you can find one of our Aldo Leopold benches on the trails and wait for nature to come to you.
Depending on what part of the Center you are visiting, or time of day, you will witness various animal habits. You may want to observe animals in their natural surroundings; however, many will pause their routine if people are moving near them. The trick to getting them to continue their activity is to sit still and wait. After being still for a while and taking in the natural beauty, it’s amazing how much you will see.
Observing Wildlife in the Forest
If it’s hot outside, consider going into the forest for some shade where you may have a chance to see unique bird behaviors, like the adults feeding their young. If you find a bit of sunshine beaming through the canopy, eventually you may happen upon the common garter snake. Snakes can feel vibrations from our footsteps on the trails and will slither away to safety. If the snake lingers, that is a compliment to your stealth.
Watching at the Prairie
Maybe you prefer to enjoy a sunnier spot. If that’s the case, then the prairie is a habitat for you. Watch for the variety of insects, including our beloved monarch butterfly, flutter from flower to flower in a quest to drink as much nectar as possible. On top of the prairie soil, listen for scurrying feet of our resident small rodent the meadow vole. If you’re lucky, you can see their rotund brown body skillfully weaving in and out of the tall grasses, either searching for food or avoiding becoming food!
Wildlife at the Ponds
Another option for observation is near our ponds. On bright, sunny days you can find turtles basking on logs. Our most common turtle, the painted turtle, will stretch out their legs in what looks similar to a yoga pose. As relaxed as they may be, if you approach the turtles too fast, they will plop into the water. Once the ripples have settled, make sure to gaze into the water and look for the macro-invertebrates, like dragonfly nymphs and crawling water beetles, swimming below the surface.
No matter which habitat you prefer, there is something for everyone to enjoy. On the weekends, enhance your viewing experience by renting one of our family-friendly Nature Packs, which includes a Super Summer Scavenger Hunt, a Rocks and Minerals Quick Guide, a magnifying glass, and a Nature Notebook to write observations or draw what you experienced. They will make your visit a true naturalist’s adventure!