Early blooming flowers such as bird's foot violets and sand phlox show their colors of pink, purple and white in early spring. Spring peepers and other amphibians can be heard sounding their mating calls. Persius Duskywing, and Frosted Elfin butterflies can be found feeding on wild lupine in May.
By June, sand coreopsis is waving its bright yellow blossoms, attracting bees, regal fritillary butterflies, and other pollinators.
Yellow rails are seen or heard annually at this site during spring months, as are American and least bitterns.
Making it rain . . . seeds!
This year we are going to make it rain on the prairie! Each year in natural prairies, seeds “rain” down to the ground from the prairie plants above. This “seed rain” provides a constant supply of seed which germinate, grow and make the prairies more robust year after year. Young prairies, such as restorations at Kankakee Sands, do not always have a seed rain because not all plants set seed their first few years. Many prairie plants spend their first year or even two growing roots down deep into the soil, rather than producing flowers and setting seed.
This growing season we will be harvesting 500 pounds of native plant seed so that this winter we can spread it over 250 acres of young restoration prairie plantings at Kankakee Sands. The acres being rained upon are new restoration plantings that have few mature plants setting seed or are in areas where we have removed non-native species and wish to cover the area with native plants. If we only had the power to make it rain water on the prairie, now that would be something!