Nature Bulletin No. 151 April 17, 1948
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation
When the sun goes down and dusk steals over the land, the animals of
the day grow drowsy and seek some sheltered spot to await another
dawn. Birds slip quietly to their nests or favorite roosts. The chattering
squirrel curls up in his hollow tree or a summer nest of leaves.
Butterflies fold their wings and bees creep into their quiet hives. Bats
and whip-poor-wills and nighthawks zigzag expertly through the air to
feast on flying insects. Then darkness comes.
Then the land becomes alive again as the animals of the night take
over -- the hunted and the hunters. The cottontail rabbits come out to
play and gorge themselves on fresh young clover and tender grass --
welcome food after nibbling all winter on the bark of hawthorn,
willow, sumac and wild rose. Millions of mice scurry about. Muskrats
emerge from the underwater entrances to their lodges and bank
tunnels to swim and splash as they feed on tender shoots of cattails
and sedges. Wild ducks and some of the shore birds feed regularly at
Around every pond and marsh, in spring, there is a symphonic chorus
of croaks, grunts, chirps and trills as the frogs and toads sing their
mating songs, accompanied by the high-pitched whines of the
mosquitoes and midges. There, and in the fields and woodlands, the
air is full of flying insects: soft-winged moths, beetles that whir and
bump. May flies, caddis flies and katydids. The ground is alive with
crawling earthworms and insects. You hear the monotonous rasping
chirp of the cricket.
All night long, the raccoon prowls the shores of streams and ponds,
dabbling for crayfish, snails, mussels, frogs and night-feeding fish. So
does the mink, who also preys on mice and muskrats. Owls wing
silently through the woods, hunting mice.
Skunks nose around, searching for insects, grubs, small snakes and
meadow mice. Foxes trot through the timber and across the field to
pounce on mice, rabbits, insects and occasionally a sleeping bird. The
possum waddles along, eating anything and everything. The
bloodthirsty shrews and weasels kill and kill and kill.
Hunger and fear rule the nightlife of the wildlife.
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Update: June 2012