Terri Treacy is fortunate to live at War Bluff Valley Sanctuary as its resident caretaker. In the biannual newsletter, Friends of War Bluff Val-ley Sanctuary, she informs newsletter members about events happening in their backyard with a column called “War Bluff Nature Calendar.” Here are biological highlights from 2007.

January—January had a few snow flurries and more rain, over 6 inches. Woodcock, turkey, and robins were routinely heard or seen throughout the month. On the 25th, a yellow-rumped warbler discovered the suet feeder.

February—On the 14th, my Valentine treat was seeing a bobcat trot through the yard, not 30 feet from the kitchen window. A few days later, the barred owls, with temperatures in the teens and twenties, began their active, mid- winter vocalizing. Daytime temperatures soon rose to the mid-60s—wood ducks and woodcocks were seen and heard daily, and the chorus frogs and spring peepers sang day and night. On the 26th, a male pine warbler and a yellow-rumped warbler visited the suet feeder.

March—March came in with a light rain and the first phoebe. A full-moon hike out to North Pond revealed an entire beaver family swimming laps and slapping tails. On the 9th, wood frogs joined the peepers and chorus frogs, with the crayfish frogs, American toads, and a few bullfrogs chiming in 4 days later. Red-winged blackbirds began singing on the first day of spring, and by the 25th, the towhee and field sparrow singing was nonstop. That same day also brought a new migrant, the Louisiana waterthrush, and the first tiger swallowtail butterfly. By the end of the month, spring was in full swing with several new arrivals—northern parula warbler, Kentucky warbler, white-eyed vireo, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. Virginia bluebells, toothwort, Dutchman’s breeches, and phlox were blooming in the woods.

April—Dogwoods, redbuds, and native red honeysuckle are in full bloom, and the forest is a color wheel of shades of green. It is this time of year when the beauty of it all takes your breath away. And then overnight, and the next night, and the next night…it all changed. “The Big Spring Freeze” of ’07 had left its mark. The forest turned brown, the birds and frogs quit singing, and the butterflies stopped flying. Each day, though, things seem to be returning to normal. On the 16th, I spotted the red-shouldered hawk nest and heard some of the early migrants singing again, and on the 17th, the first hummer arrived. By the end of the month, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, common yellowthroats, ovenbirds, and kingbirds had arrived.

May—By the first week in May, the migration action had really picked up. The juncos and white-throated sparrows departed, making way for all the spring arrivals, which included lots of warblers—Nashville, Tennessee, cerulean, palm, magnolia, bay-breasted, chestnut-sided, black and white, and blackpoll. Also appearing were wood thrush, catbird, chipping sparrow, blue grosbeak, house wren, and solitary sandpiper. The grosbeak population continued to increase—at the peak, there were easily 15 pairs enjoying the sunflower-seed buffet. By the 5th, there were at least eight Baltimore orioles sharing the nectar feeder with the orchard orioles. There was great excitement at the discovery of tree swallows nesting in a bluebird box by Cedar Pond. Shortly thereafter, a pair of barn swallows began nesting in the barn. The woods were filled with the sound of turkeys gobbling, and the ponds were filled with the sound of frogs—bullfrogs, cricket frogs, gray treefrogs, and leopard frogs. It was a thrill to see a male Blackburnian warbler on the 27th. The next day, I spotted two timber rattlers by the barn—my early warning sign that it was time to really watch where I was stepping.

June and July—Mama deer brought their wobbly-legged babies around; bird youngsters followed their folks around begging for food; butterflies nectared on wildflowers and garden flowers; chanterelle mushrooms grew abundantly; screech owls trilled at night; and timber rattlers, or their skins, were encountered on several occasions.

August—Towards the end of the month, wood ducks arrived and roosted at night on Dragonfly Pond. Hummingbirds were swarming the feeders; at the peak, I was filling the feeders twice a day—almost 2 gallons! On the 29th, among a pack of gemmed satyr butterflies, I spotted a Carolina satyr. I had to get the field guide out to identify it. I discovered that only one sighting had ever been made in the past in Pope County and that was here at the sanctuary! (In 1994, the first Illinois sighting of the 20th century was made at War Bluff Valley Sanctuary.—Ed.)

September—During the first half of the month, the hummers and butterflies were absolutely magnificent to watch. The prevalent butterflies on the list included hackberry, tawny emperor, red-spotted purple, painted lady, cloudless sulfur, and silver spotted skipper. Peewee flycatchers were fattening up on insects at the sanctuary as they headed south. One even attempted to take a hummingbird, but he quickly decided it wasn’t going to work out very well! On the 20th, a baby bobcat—no bigger than a large house cat—shot out from the fencerow into the middle of the road. It stared at my truck before deciding it was best to jump back into the weeds to hide.

October—I didn’t spot any more hummers after the 6th, although the phoebe was still around on the 8th. White-throated sparrows arrived on the 10th, and juncos arrived a few days later. On the 17th, a bald eagle soared back and forth over Barn Pond. A lone, male rusty blackbird was hunting bugs and other treats along a log in Cedar Pond on the 28th.

November and December—Various members of the woodchuck family were still making appearances on and off into November. It appeared they had taken up residence in burrows under the barn. We are enjoying a late (by about a month), but truly gorgeous fall. The red-shouldered hawks are already staking out their territory, the deer are finding mates, and the woodpeckers are really pleased that I finally started serving up suet cakes again.