Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Little Red Schoolhouse

A recent visit back home brought to me to one of my fondest childhood places, The Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, this little nature center plopped in the middle of the southwest forest preserves was a favorite place of mine. Of course when I used to visit as a child, you could still feed the ducks breadcrumbs or corn from a gumball machine. But you had to be careful in the fall and winter because you might get accosted by hungry geese!

Well, a lot has changed since then, and now there is an entirely new nature center with bigger and better exhibits featuring wildlife native to the mid-west, numerous footpaths around the property, and the schoolhouse is, of course, still standing. You cannot feed the wildlife anymore, however, which is probably for the best!

Along one of these paths I happened upon a fairly calm goose (compared to the ones of my youth) and took this opportunity to work on my bird renderings. I feel like he knew he was being watched...!

All of the animals in the exhibits at the schoolhouse are generally rehabilitated wildlife that for one reason or another, cannot return back to the wild. In the back of the property are some rescued birds of prey. The two owls were hiding out, being nocturnal creatures. However, the beautiful red tailed hawk was bright eyed and on the lookout for a spare rodent/snack. Not sure if he ever got that snack, but I got a decent sketch of him.

It was great to return to my home in the plains, and experience the beauty of the mid-west. I hope to go back again soon!

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