Welcome back readers! Last week we packed up our lab and headed back to U of I to start lab work this week (which you’ll hear more about in next week’s blog). Don’t fret though, as we will return to the field in August for one more week to recapture and resample all the headstarts. We had an amazing last week filled with lots of turtles in our traps and fun times with the team and now we find ourselves reminiscing about the great outdoors we grew so used to.

While adorable turtles are the obvious highlight of fieldwork, the sites we visit have many more treasures to offer. We’ve discovered tiny bird nests tucked in the grass, snacked on berries from the underbrush, and watched fledglings take their first attempts at flight. One of the most common adversaries we often face are the protective red-winged blackbird parents. They swarm us and often dive bomb at our hats, shrieking loudly that we do not belong there. The beeping of our telemetry equipment often attracts them and we’re pretty sure the telemetry beeps translate to bird curse words. We’ve done birding outside of getting attacked and have seen majestic sandhill crane families stride across the marshes. We even spent one night after an egg-check shift hiking through the dark forest to hear the unique sound of whip-poor-wills.


We often joke that if we were trying to study frogs we would be very successful due to the high amount we catch in our traps. We have seen and heard more frogs than Michelle knew existed. Alexis now responds, “frog”, reflexively to Michelle every time she asks “what bird call was that?”. We’ve seen tadpoles the size of a fist and fully metamorphosed frogs that would fit on a fingernail. There are many other creatures we catch in our traps like the brave crayfish that cling to the netting of the traps waiting for the right moment to try and snap at a finger. We have even reduced a few adventurous fish that had swam into our nets.


The prairie is a truly beautiful place to be. It is open and expansive with lush marshes tucked away in the sedges. There are wildflowers that we could not just walk by, and have 100% stopped for impromptu photoshoots. We feast on the many berries found along forests edges. There are fragrant plants that we forget the name of but are pretty sure are in the mint family. (We don’t really know plants.) We’ve snacked on black raspberries, wild blackberries, elderberry blossoms, mulberries, and even cattails. The cattails need to be stripped down to their root and they taste faintly of cucumber.

One of the great lessons we’ve learned this summer is that the swamp always provides; whether you are looking for animal entertainment, bird-watching, or free snacks.`