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Take Time to Celebrate the Wildlife All Around Us

World Wildlife Day is celebrated every year on March 3. This day is meant to celebrate the beauty of wild animals and plants on Earth.


A mink in the grass.
A mink. (Photo via Shutterstock)

It’s also about raising awareness of their benefits and encouraging us to preserve them on a global scale. At home, you can celebrate World Wildlife Day throughout the entire month of March — or even all year!


Where can I find wildlife to celebrate?


Get a notebook and pencil, and, if you have them, binoculars and a camera, and get outside! Take a walk around your house, your neighborhood, a park or a forest preserve.

See how many animals, birds or plants you can find. Don’t forget about the tiny insects!


If you don’t see any animals, how about some animal signs? This can be tracks, scat, signs of digging or different types of animal homes or nests. Some animals make their homes in natural things like trees or hollow logs. Some in your neighborhood may make their home under decks or sheds or in other human-made structures.  


Record your findings


A child drawing with a pencil on a journal in the grass.
(Photo via Shuttertock)

Make a drawing, take a photo or journal about the wildlife you are seeing. Jot down its activities. Drawing and journaling will help you remember the details of your discovery. Some of those details can be very beautiful, especially in plants. 


Things to include with your notes:

  • Where did you find it? 

  • Is it a mammal, an insect, a bird or a plant?

  • Is it big or small? You don’t have to measure your discovery. You can guesstimate. Is it as big as a cat? As small as a paperclip?

  • Does it have bright colors? Is it patterned or plain? 

  • Does it fly or walk?

  • Does it have fur or feathers? Is it scaly or fuzzy? 


After you’ve documented your discoveries, go home to read up on them. Did you see something you’ve never seen before? Use a field guide or a trusted website to figure out what it is. What connections does your nature discovery make to humans? To other wildlife? Maybe they are pollinators or an important food source for predators.


Share 


Next, in the spirit of World Wildlife Day, share your drawings and photos with your friends and family. Share the observations, facts and connections related to your wild discoveries to bring awareness of the wildlife around you!  


Celebrate wildlife all year


A red-winged blackbird chasing an egret over grasses and cattails.
A red-winged blackbird chasing a great egret. (Photo courtesy of Chad Morsch)

You can continue to celebrate and raise awareness of the wildlife around you by keeping up with your observations, notes and photos. Go out once a month, once a week or even a few minutes every day to look for wildlife.


Pick different times of day to make your observations. Some animals are active in the evening, while others are active by day. Continuing to share your observations with your friends and family helps them see the beauty and importance of your wild neighbors.


Visit new territory


To mix things up a little, plan a family trip to explore a forest preserve or park that is farther from your home. The Forest Preserve District of Will County website has information about many preserves and trails you can explore.


If you aren’t able to make it out to the preserves to see wildlife, the Forest Preserve’s YouTube channel has many great videos on wildlife we can find in our area.


Visit a nature center or zoo


Nature centers usually feature native wildlife and provide information about how you can help the flora (plants) and fauna (animals) nearest you. Often, they will have programs for you to learn more about the nature around you, and they may even have volunteer opportunities. Three Forest Preserve visitor centers have animals that you can see up close: Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon, Plum Creek Nature Center near Beecher and Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville. And, of course, who knows what wildlife you will see on the trails outside those visitor centers.


The main purpose of zoos and aquariums is to conserve wildlife from all around the world. They’re a great place to celebrate World Wildlife Day! During your visit, you’ll see animals from all the continents and learn about conservation efforts to help them. You’ll also discover their importance in nature, including their connections to humans and benefits they make in their home environments.


Keep celebrating


However you decide to celebrate World Wildlife Day, continue to explore the outdoors! From tiny insects to 2-ton bison, keep raising awareness of the diversity of life and the ways wildlife makes our planet beautiful. 

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Follow Willy's Wilderness on Facebook for more kid-friendly nature stories and activities.

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